Monday Miscellanea

Sadly, I already broke my goal of posting once a day in November by not posting anything yesterday. I just didn’t feel like it because I was totally busy, as I always am on the days we travel from Bavaria to Baden-Württemberg or the other way round. I should have written a post in advance… I guess.

Anyway, yesterday I got up quite late and took Curious Dog on a slightly shorter walk than usual on Sunday mornings. I’d packed my office stuff and clothes the night before, but still needed to pack my books, all the left-over food, Curious Dog’s things (he’s got his own bag of toys, leashes, and towels). Then we had to check that everything was properly locked up and ship-shape and load all our bags into the car, so by the time we got started, it was almost noon.

The trip was fine. Almost no traffic, no traffic jam at the construction site on the Autobahn junction so that I didn’t need to take the alternate route I’d looked up on Google maps. There was a lot of rain on the way, but luckily it didn’t rain when we arrived, so that I could unload all our bags without getting wet. But it must have rained recently, because when Partner and I took Curious Dog on his afternoon walk, CD got totally muddy because all the paths through the fields were in a terribly muddy state (and still are – it was another mud-fest this morning). Fortunately, we have a lot of old towels which we use to clean and dry CD after our walks.

After the afternoon walks, I cooked a creamy soup made of potato and leek. It turned out very nice. Just some potatoes cooked with two stalks of leek in vegetable broth, some ginger, a small onion, and a few chili flakes, a bit of sweet paprika and curry powder, some fresh garlic. After the vegetables were done, I pureed the soup with an immersion blender, added some soy milk for creaminess and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for taste. It turned out very nice. I love soup anytime, but most of all on rainy autumn or winter nights.

IslandMad

By then it was quite late and although I set up my home office again, in preparation for work today, I really wasn’t inclined to post anything.

Today has been the usual Monday mess. The usual lot of Monday meetings and in addition post-deadline quality stuff to deal with. People who should know better doing stupid stuff and mailing me about their problems. Their mails showed them to be super clueless – I like helping new hires, but if I have to explain elementary stuff to colleagues that have been working with our tools for years and still don’t know what they are doing… And it’s always the same colleagues. They always seem to think that the software is out to get them (it probably is, by now). When I see their particular names on e-mails in my inbox, it’s time to roll my eyes. Sometimes it’s quite funny.

There was no time for anything except meetings before lunch and after lunch I had to do some obligatory trainings. They were easy and only took about half an hour, about stuff which isn’t anything I need to deal with in my daily work (thankfully). Then another couple of meetings, a short coffee-break and the afternoon walk with Curious Dog. Nothing very exciting.

I finished reading Laurie R. King, Island of the Mad, the 15th novel in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes yesterday. That’s why I got up late on Sunday, I was reading in bed when I should have been packing. That hunch I had about why the missing person had gone missing (I talked about that in my last post) was correct and Mary Russell had apparently kind of known the reason all along but “had managed to squirm out from the unpleasant hypothesis” (p. 318 of my edition, a Bantam paperback from 2019). That was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever read in the series. Even if Russell had managed to ignore this hypothesis, what about Holmes? He should have caught it. That’s the problem with characters that are established to be a great deal more intelligent than normal people. It’s just not believable when they make normal-people mistakes. This novel is definitively not my favourite in the series, but I found other things in it to enjoy that made up for this silly plot device. These novels usually have interesting settings and in this case it’s 1925 asylums for the insane in London and Venice as well as life for rich expats in Venice. And the rise of fascism in Italy and, to a lesser degree, in Britain. That did make for interesting reading.

Keep safe, world.

Monday Miscellanea

Nothing much has been happening. It’s still lockdown, with no end in sight because of the danger of the new mutated virus strains. The numbers are falling, but there’s the concern that they will rise again quickly if the lockdown is opened too soon.

Work has been going on as usual so far, but the near future will see a sharp uptick in the frequency we have to publish updates to our document. We will be having a team workshop (online, of course) this week to consider all the projects and tasks we need to cover. It seems rather clear to me that we have too many projects and not enough people on my team for all the work. I’m afraid I’ll be saddled with something that I haven’t got much interest in and I also think that I have enough to do anyway, especially with the upcoming frequency increase. Maybe I should volunteer for something ahead of time so that at least it’ll be something I would like to work on, but I do think that I have enough on my plate without asking for more. Perhaps I should just sit tight and wait and see.

The weekend was pleasant with warm and mostly wet weather. All the walks and all the fields around here are soaked and muddy. The other day, while taking Curious Dog for his afternoon walk, we came up to a pedestrian underpass to the railway and found it flooded. Because I didn’t want to return the way we had come, I opted to go through a path in the fields. It was soggy and muddy and at one point, not sure if it was because CD was pulling on the leash as usual, I slipped and landed on my hands and knees. I didn’t hurt myself; it was a soft landing in the mud. But oh, the mess!

Today it is snowing and temperatures for the next ten days or so are to drop to 5-10°C (or lower, although I don’t believe that will happen here). The northern part of Germany is already covered in heaps of snow. There’s been an influx of freezing arctic air and conditions are chaotic. It’s snowing here too (we’re in southern Germany, nearer the middle than to the far south). Usually we don’t get much snow at all. If we are lucky, we’ll get 10 cm this time. It doesn’t seem to have snowed much at our place in Bavaria, which is lucky, because otherwise I’d have been worried. It did snow a lot at Partner’s place, but not as much as he feared. It’s very odd that after two years of hardly any Winter temperatures at all, suddenly, on top of Corona, we also get a colder Winter. I read an article today that explained that this weather was due to climate change in the arctic. Some airstream that keeps the cold artic air up North has weakened and allowed it to stream South, to us. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops in the next few days.

On Saturday, while it was still warm, with wind from the Mediterranean, we had lots of clouds and a weird, slightly yellowish light outside. It was a bit as though it was going to start snowing, except that it was too warm. During the night it rained, and the next morning everything outside was covered in a thin layer of yellow dust. My skylight is quite dirty with it, but it’s too cold to clean. The yellow dirt is dust from the Sahara. We do occasionally get dusty air from Africa, but this weekend it was quite noticeable. So, first a blast from the desert, and now a blast from the arctic.

Other than watching and pondering the weather escapades, I did a bit of reading and a bit of watching TV. Partner and I watched the last episode of The Expanse, which ended on a cliff-hanger. Looking forward to the next season. We also watched the Amazon production Bliss, with Selma Hayek. A waste of time. A very odd Matrix-like sci-fi film, not particularly diverting and not very logical.

Partner tried out a couple of new recipes which were a great success. A red cabbage dish where the chopped cabbage was cooked with red lentils and flavoured with a bit of vinegar and soy sauce (also salt, pepper, some sugar). The lentils seemed to disappear but gave a lovely silken texture to the cabbage dish. And a new type of tomato sauce with crumbled smoked tofu with rice, also very nice. On Sunday, I made my mushroom, carrot, and kidney bean stew in dark beer sauce, of which enough was left for today, which is always great. I also baked some oak cookies, but they turned out rather chewy.

Partner and I also played our Settlers of Catan card game again, which Partner won. That makes it twice in a row. But it doesn’t matter who wins, it’s a fun game. Anyway, that was our weekend. A lot of preoccupation with the weather and otherwise quite restful. I even managed to get some housekeeping done, without overdoing it.

Keep safe, world.

Frosty Fields

It was -2°C this morning at 8:00 when we went for a long walk with Curious Dog. Sunny, but cold. All the fields rimed with frost and there was a thin sheet of ice on the puddles. Hardly anybody was around. It was quiet and restful and lovely. The first subzero temperatures this autumn, here, I think (unless it was this cold when we were away). We took the normal way up our hill but went back down the long way. By the time we got back home, after about 1.5 hours, I was quite cold. But I like the cold, it’s the time for it. And it’s nice and cozy back in the warm house, with a warm cup of Caro Kaffee (a fake coffee made of roasted barley, as I only occasionally like to drink real coffee).

Afterwards I continued reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. I’m now well past the half-way mark. But I didn’t read for very long, as I then decided to prepare a hot lunch in the clay oven (usually we cook at dinner, but on Sundays we sometimes do it at lunch, so that we can relax at night without having to spend time in the kitchen). I peeled and cubed some carrots and potatoes, added some cubed onions, and diced dried dates, and mixed the lot in a bowl with curry and paprika spices. I also cut a head of cauliflower apart and added the same spices. Then I took a tin of coconut milk and some vegetable stock, boiled it and added some more curry and chili. I soaked my clay oven pot (Römertopf in German) for ten minutes and put some shredded Savoy cabbage that I had in the freezer into the bottom of the pot as the first layer of vegetables. I put the potato-carrot mix on top and the cauliflower florets on top of that. Then I poured the coconut milk mix over all the vegetables, closed the pot and put it into the oven at 200°C for slightly longer than 1.5 hours. That’s the great thing about cooking with the clay oven. You do all the work up-front and then you just wait until it is done. The drawback is that you can’t just open it to check how it’s doing (all the heat would escape), and you can’t add any more spices before it’s done. It turned out delicious, though, if a bit too soupy. I should have used less stock, but I’m used to making the recipe with rice instead of potatoes. The rice always soaks up all the liquid. Best of all, there’s some left for tomorrow, although I will need to add something to the curry as it won’t be enough. Still, that won’t be much bother.

While we were waiting for the food to cook, we watched a documentary about the history of writing which was fascinating. It’s a three-part series, we’ve got up to the invention of the printing press. There’s one more part to go, I guess we’ll watch it sometime next week in the media library of the TV channel Arte. Arte is a French-German public TV co-production that has lots of good documentaries and also shows news from all around the world, which other channels often don’t do. They also show interesting films. I like Arte, but I also like blockbusters. The best thing about Arte is that like the other public TV channels (in contrast to the private ones) it doesn’t interrupt films with adverts. I really can’t stand all those ad-breaks on the private channels and almost never watch them. It’s public TV or DVDs/blue rays/streaming all the way.

I spent the early afternoon reading, then we watched the second of the three episodes about the history of writing, and then Partner made a berry mousse (with aqua faber, that is, the liquid from a tin of chickpeas and berries and sugar). Sounds weird but is very nice. Aqua faber is a vegan alternative to egg white. We had the mousse on top of vanilla pudding, instead of baked goods for coffee.

Then it was time for CD’s afternoon walk, again. Sometimes all that walking it does get a bit tiring, but when I see how much CD loves it, I can’t not go. And anyway, he get super restless if he doesn’t get enough exercise.

On our return, I bit the bullet and did a bit of housework. Cleaned the bathroom. It didn’t take very long. These things would go better if I didn’t keep procrastinating, I should have done it yesterday or on Friday. The psychological hurdle is bigger than the job itself. I should know that by now.

In half an hour we’ll be watching the Tatort again. It’s supposed to be good; we’ll see.

And then to bed and tomorrow another day, another work week.

Keep safe, world.

Pick of the Week

Thursday is the pick of the week for me, because it is the last day of my working week, since I don’t work on Fridays. It’s better than the weekend itself, because of the anticipation. One has a view of the weekend to come, full of potential. The weekend itself sometimes doesn’t live up to it’s potential. I usually have lots of plans and only manage to actually do some (or most) of them, mostly because I’m often too lazy to do some of the more elaborate plans. But then, there’s always the next weekend and sometimes it is nice to just let one’s soul dangle. Die Seele baumeln lassen – “letting one’s soul dangle” is a German expression for spending a leisurely time doing nothing. I’m a bit of an expert at it with the caveat that I sometimes get a guilty feeling, which kind of wrecks the experience. Usually I manage to keep my conscience quiet or I postpone my bad conscience until it is too late to do anything about it. It’s best, of course, to find a congenial balance between doing things and lazing around. As always, I will strive again to find this balance this weekend.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and found some cherries at the supermarket on sale. Hoping that they would be delicious, I bought two lots. A very good buy. We’ve already eaten the first lot and are on the second. I’m contemplating another trip to the supermarket to pick up some more. I absolutely adore cherries and these ones are very good.

Otherwise yesterday was an uneventful day, except that we tried a new dish at night. Well, Partner tried it and when he ran into problems, he enlisted my aid. Together, we managed it. It was grated zucchini and carrot patties fried in a non-stick pan. The first lot stayed limp and floppy and kept falling apart. The recipe wasn’t very detailed and through trial and error we found out that the patties needed more flour than Partner had initially added. Once we added more flour, the patties turned out very nicely. We had them with a cucumber-yoghurt dip and some sambal made with coconut flakes, tomato, and spring onions. I do believe, though, that the fried patties were a bit rich for dinner. They would have been easier on the digestion at lunch. I think they disrupted my sleep. I’m not really that fond of fried food, even when it is delicious, because I feel that fried stuff is unhealthy. The patties were a lot of work and took ages to fry, so I don’t think we’ll be having them often.

2020_07_09

Today Partner has left for his place for the weekend which sometimes makes me feel a bit sad. I do like being by myself, but I have enough time by myself when I’m in Bavaria with Mum and Curious Dog. Although I’m never actually by myself since Mum is always with me. I kind of miss being completely alone, because I like being alone. Not that is it a hardship being with Mum. It’s just different and took some getting used to. I’m glad we have a good relationship. Partner, I strongly suspect, also likes being on his own. We are both very affectionate when we are reunited after an absence and I think, on the whole, it does our relationship good. We don’t get fed up with each other.

Yesterday, after all the tribulations I described in some of my last post, my new router arrived. It looks very sleek and modern compared to my old one. The technician is coming tomorrow afternoon to enable the higher speed internet. I have to clean my little entry hall where my router is located and also the stairs and stairwell in the cellar in the morning, so as not to be embarrassed by all the dog hair and other dirt that has accumulated during the week in the hall and for more than one week in the cellar. I don’t clean the cellar very often. I hope the activation of the new internet access will go without a hitch.

As Partner is away, I’m cooking tonight. I’m making pak choi with mushrooms and pasta. Haven’t made pak choi before, so I hope it turns out well. It looks quite similar to some sorts of Swiss chard. It’s not often available in my supermarket so when I saw it yesterday, I decided to try it out.

Work today was not very eventful. No meetings and nothing out of the ordinary. I did some work on my documents, but not as much as I had planned. Still, it’s a start and there’s still enough time left until the next deadline. I’ll continue next week with renewed enthusiasm, I guess. The support colleague will be back in the office next week and I hope we’ll manage to fix my notebook. It’s a pain that it keeps trying to install the missing update without success.

It was very loud in my home office today before lunch. Two houses down my street someone was demolishing a brick garage with a power shovel. I initially thought it was the road construction already advanced to our turn-off. It wasn’t too bad with the windows shut, but I like having my windows open in summer. If the coming roadworks will cause this amount of noise, it will be horrid, especially since they won’t be finished in one morning. But we had roadworks when we moved here and I don’t remember them being so bad, so maybe we’ll be spared.

Keep safe, world.

Long Weekend

It was the last long weekend of the year (at least, one due to a public holiday, I guess I can still take a day off for a personal long weekend). Corpus Christi last Thursday. The weather wasn’t very good throughout. Very overcast, occasional rain, cool temperatures, humid. But good for going for long walks with Curious Dog and I definitively prefer cool wet weather to hot baking weather.

Apart from going on walks with Curious Dog I used the weekend to do some:

  • Cooking and baking
  • Reading
  • Watching movies with Partner
  • Cleaning
  • Meditating – although not as much as I had meant to.

The usual stuff, but more relaxed as there was more time for everything.

Regarding cooking and baking, I did the cooking and Partner did the baking. We had a mushroom stew with carrots and kidney beans in a beer sauce with dumplings on Thursday and the leftovers on Friday. Saturday we didn’t cook and had Singhalese take-away instead: carrot fritters with a yoghurt dip. On Sunday I made a huge pasta salad with peas, capers and fried smoked tofu which we had for both lunch and dinner.

Partner baked a vegan cheesecake for Thursday and Friday and a fantastic vegan tiramisu with strawberries that we had on Saturday and Sunday. Today, we had a simple but nice nut cake for our afternoon coffee break, to sweeten our workday.

I caught up on my reading goals by finishing up Little Dorrit, which I really enjoyed. I also continued with poems from the New Oxford Book of English Verse and read a few of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories (which I still find quite weird and depressing). According to Wikipedia, it’s supposed to be (American) Southern Gothic with grotesque characters – I can sure confirm the grotesque part of the description. Guess that’s not going to be my favourite genre. Still, they are kind of fascinating and I will finish the collection, but I’m probably not going to choose to read a novel by O’Connor anytime soon.

We watched some films and documentaries of TV. What stuck in my mind was “Der Tag wird kommen” (“The Day Will Come”) the latest episode of the Polizeiruf 110 series, which is a police detective series that was the East German counterpart of the West German Tatort series (also a police detective show). The series were continued after the German reunification. Sunday’s episode was about a suicide disguised as a murder in order to cash in on life insurance and also about the manipulation of the police detectives by a criminal they’d put into prison in previous parts of the series. Not bad. We also watched Knives Out with Daniel Craig and loved it. Very nice homage to Agatha Christie and quite funny, too. Additionally, we watched the three-part episodes Stories vs. Reality on the youtube channel Like Stories of Old. This channel is great. It explains philosophical ideas behind movies and these three videos examined the role that hero tales play in our lives. Makes me want to read Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex and Joseph Campbell The Hero with a Thousand Faces, although I haven’t got time at the moment. They go on my to-read list (which, unfortunately, is always growing never shrinking).

Housecleaning and washing clothes were also on the agenda. But I didn’t overdo it.

I even took a shopping trip to a dog food store a couple of towns over. Last time I went was at the beginning of the Corona lockdown. It was a nice drive – almost my usual commute that I’ve not been doing for month now and will not be doing probably until the end of the year. And I’m sure in future it will be easy to do home office.

Shockingly and sadly, the weekend was overshadowed by yet another murder of a black man by police. Rayshard Brooks, shot in the back! BLACK LIVES MATTER – we must overcome rascism and police brutality, in the US as in Europe, and the rest of the world.

Keep safe, world.

2020_06_15

Asparagus and Salsify

Last night, when I tried to read, I kept nodding off, so gave up and went to sleep. Maybe that was too early for me, because I woke up before 5 a.m. and couldn’t drop off again. After some tossing and turning, I gave up and started reading in the morning instead. The good thing about the Kindle app on my tablet is that it doesn’t require a bedside lamp which would disturb Partner. I’m now ahead on Dombey & Son and hope to finish it by end of Friday, so that I can devote Saturday and Sunday to Beloved. I can only read that one during the day, as it is a hardback. I love Beloved, so I treated myself to one and I’ve had it for years.

Work today was not very uplifting, just the usual drudge. I’m in a slump regarding work. Hopefully things will pick up after the coming long weekend. Only one more workday, tomorrow. Thursday’s a public holiday and Friday is my regular day off. I’ve got some stuff that I’ve got to get finished this week that’s coming along fine and then next week we have some minor deadlines. Then it’s time to get cracking on the deadlines for August and September which, the earlier one gets ahead with those the better. It’ll get too hot in July and August and people will be on vacation, and things will drag. But if all one’s projects are in a good shape by the end of June, it’s tolerable.

Since tomorrow is a day before a public holiday, which always creates a run on supermarkets (worst if the upcoming holiday is Easter or Christmas, but bad in any case), I did our weekly grocery shopping today. We’re having white asparagus with new potatoes and a spring onion soy yoghurt sauce. This is our vegan version of a typical German spring meal. The classic version is white asparagus with some slices of cooked ham, potatoes and Sauce Hollandaise. White asparagus season lasts from around mid-April until June 24. This year’s problematic, because there are not as many seasonal workers around to harvest the asparagus. The corona crisis is really highlighting the importance of seasonal workers and also showing up that they often have rough living conditions. Too crowded and not enough sanitary facilities. Also, long hours and back-breaking work – I wouldn’t want to do it, I don’t think. Although I wouldn’t mind trying it out, to see if I could do it. White asparagus is dug out of the ground. It grows in long rows in raised beds and you have to dig down next to the shoots and cut them off about 10 cm underground. If they grow much above ground, more than just the tips, they grow bitter.

We used to have black salsify in our garden when I was a child. In Germany it’s sometimes called the “poor person’s asparagus”. It’s very nice (I think) but it tastes nothing like white asparagus. And it’s a winter vegetable. It grows deep roots that are a lot of work to dig up. My dad used to be responsible for digging them up. It involved a lot of expletives. One has to wear gloves when peeling the roots, as they exude a perniciously sticky milky substance that leaves brown stains on one’s hands (and everywhere else). After peeling, the roots need to be immersed in lemon water to stop them turning brown. Usually I just get Schwarzwurzel (black salsify) frozen, it’s less hassle.

Where was I? Oh yes, asparagus, tonight for dinner – very yummy.

We also had a rhubarb cake for coffee, very nice. Partner made it, he’s the backer in the family. I bake too, but not nearly as much. I’m too lazy and tend to get impatient. He’s also traditionally cooks the asparagus, as he introduced it to me. I just mixed the yoghurt sauce, as that is my specialty. Also, Partner usually does the cooking during the week and we cook together on weekends. I do the meal planning (with his input) and the grocery shopping, which he hates. Sometimes Mum cooks as well and she always cooks when we’re in Bavaria. She also almost always does the dishes (unless it’s too much, then Partner and I do it them together. We don’t use a dishwasher). A good division of labour, that works well for us.

Keep safe, world.

2020_05_19

Aubergine Experiment

End of my work week today, phew! It was a boring week workwise. No looming deadlines, just a lot of tedious stuff and unreliable software tool that exacerbates the boring tasks.

Yesterday was my weekly shopping trip, so I’m all done with that as well, except that I went shopping in my lunch break and one of the shops I frequent (the organic produce and specialty shop) is never open during lunch (small town syndrome). I’ll probably pop over tomorrow just before lunch, when hopefully there won’t be any queues. They do have some stuff that I really need, like soy yoghurt and tempeh. And their produce is very good, though pretty expensive (I just buy produce there that I don’t get in the other grocery stores I frequent).

It’s been pretty cold at night (the ice saints, as I explained in Monday’s post), so I’ve temporarily stashed my few outside pot plants in the guest loo. Guess I’ll be taking them out again on Saturday. Next week looks like it will be a pleasant 20°C during the day and no more night frost until autumn, I should hope. Also, next Thursday is a public holiday, so that’s something to look forward to. Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day). Only three days of work!

2020_05_14

This week Partner tried a recipe for a new vegan cheesecake. It turned out fabulous and was super easy to make. There are some great vegan cheesecake recipes on the Internet and in baking books, but often they require a lot of ingredients and are complicated and longwinded to put together. In this case, the “cheese” topping was easy. Just some cashews soaked and then pureed with some added maple syrup, lemon juice and grated lemon zest plus the same amount of cooked and pureed millet (same amount as the cashews). This was mixed and put on top of the cake bottom and just refrigerated for a few hours. Sounds strange (we had doubts), but it was great on the first day and even better the second. It didn’t last longer than two days! Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo. But we’ll be making this cake again. The recipe is for keeps. And I’m sure it will be possible to combine the mixture with some other fruits to get some variety. It tasted better than the non-vegan cheesecake we bought at the local bakery a couple of weeks ago.

Last weekend we also had a rhubarb cake which was very nice. I bought some more rhubarb this week and will be making a compote with it, to go with some simple sweet yeasty buns that I’m planning to make tomorrow. Partner’s gone to his place in North Rhine-Westphalia this weekend and so I have to do my own baking, if I want any home baked goods on the weekend. Not too fond of baking, so not going to make anything that’s complicated.

Today I cooked an aubergine curry. A bit of an experiment, but it turned out quite nice: one smallish aubergine (eggplant), cubed, and one small bell pepper, cut into thin strips, an onion, cubed, two medium cloves of garlic and a piece of fresh ginger all cut into tiny little cubes. Then all steamed in a bit of water, seasoned with curry, paprika, turmeric, and some ground coriander, with about a tablespoon of peanut butter added to make the sauce creamy. At the end, I added some chopped leftover chicory and some dried thyme and rosemary. Also, some soymilk and salt and pepper. Served over whole basmati rice. Turned out very nice and didn’t take terribly long.

I’m going to end the day with some meditation and some reading. Some TV and some petting of Curious Dog.

Keep safe, world!

Work Measures

Corona virus measures at my company will be extended for an indefinite time as communicated by the upper echelons this week. They are working on plans how to allow a return to working at the office, but they told us that for the foreseeable future, things won’t be as they were before the start of the crisis. Those of us who have no problems with working from home, will continue for quite some time, apparently. This sounds vague, because it is vague. Plans haven’t yet been finalized, nor have they been communicated (naturally) except in vague term. I hope that we use the crisis to come to an improved way of working that is better for us and the planet (more flexibility for us, less travel to hurt the planet, for instance – sorry Lufthansa). Isn’t it ironic that our economic shutdown should be good for the climate? I fear, though, that we will shortsightedly focus on getting the economy up and running again, without much regard for the climate or the environment. Business as usual. Hope I will be proved wrong.

I don’t mind working from home as I’m used to it. Colleagues with kids are probably keener to return to the office, as are some of my single colleagues, who miss socializing with people in person. If there’s a call for it, I shall certainly volunteer to remain at home. Not only do I enjoy it, but I’ve got my mother to think about. I don’t want to expose her to the virus. This is the hour of the introvert. I’m quite happy with my family, Curious Dog, and occasional social calls via Skype or Teams (haven’t used Zoom yet, it’s not supported by my company. I think it raises a lot of security concerns). I’m just sad that this home office situation which suits me is caused by such an awful crisis. Perhaps, if I were stuck at home without my family, I might not be so sanguine but then I always liked living alone when I was in college and I don’t mind the distance relationship Partner and I have had for years. I’m used to solitude and like it. The fact that nowadays my Mum is always around even when Partner isn’t took some getting used to.

On another note, while out grocery shopping this week, I noticed more people wearing masks. Not very many, but a few. No doubt in a few weeks everyone will be wearing them when out in public places or on public transport. Seems a good idea and easy to implement. Lots of instructions for sewing masks online. Mum, having been a tailor, is creating her own pattern that’s a bit more sophisticated than some of the online ones.

My supermarket of choice was well stocked this week, except for no toilet paper and no flour again (that was yesterday). Today I took an extra trip to a drugstore, where I did find toilet paper. On the way back I dropped in once more to the supermarket, where they did have flour again. Picked up a couple of packages so that we can do some baking on the weekend. I also picked up some Singhalese takeout from a small shop near the supermarket. The first time in years. We usually do all home cooking except when we are on vacation and even then, we mostly cook ourselves. Too expensive otherwise. But now we wanted to support this small local business. It was very spicy, very tasty. Mango and potato curry and a lentil vegetable curry. Maybe we’ll do this now and again in future. It wasn’t too expensive but still a lot more expensive than home cooking.

On Tuesday, I had my new washing machine delivered. It’s working well and the delivery guys also took away the old broken one. I gave them a tip for delivering in time of Corona. Although I would have given them a tip anyway. I’m sure one’s not paid very well for delivering heavy appliances and they did have to lug it down our steep cellar stairs (and the other one up). So now we’ve got a working washer again – very happy about that.

Keep safe, world.

2020_04_16

Peaceful Easter Weekend

My Easter weekend was relaxing and pleasant. The weather was nice, mostly, though Sunday and Monday were a bit cooler and a few (very few) drops of rain fell. That was good for walking with Curious Dog, because the hot weather of last week was already a bit too hot for longer walks in the full sunshine. People adhered to the social distancing rules and apart from a quick trip to the local backer’s on Saturday, I didn’t need to go shopping. It’s surreal how nice the weekend was for us, while in other places people are struggling so much. We are blessed.

Somebody wrote “Der Herr ist auferstanden” on the pavement in front of our driveway. “The Lord is risen” in English. A reminder of the reason for the lovely long weekend. I’m not particularly religious, but I didn’t mind the reminder. Wonder who it was, though. It was only in front of our driveway, nowhere else, so it must have been one of our neighbours. My guess is that it was the family with the two toddlers, as they have chalk (the kids did some other scribbles in our communal driveway). But it’s just a guess and anyway not important.

I meditated a lot. An hour in the mornings, at noon, and in the late afternoon on all four days of the long weekend. It made me mellow and good tempered and I even got a good deal of housework done without getting annoyed. I think this should be my new strategy. Meditation before housework. On Sunday morning I took about an hour to reorganize my spices. I had them in a cupboard above the cooker, but that was kind of awkward and it had got really messy. So now I’ve put some of the spices onto a little shelf in my kitchen and the rest into a different cupboard. Now it’s nice and tidy and I’ve got a good overview. For once I actually followed up on a plan.

I walked with Curious Dog each afternoon, while my partner did the morning walks. Currently Curious Dog is being weird about the noon walks. Half the time he doesn’t want to go, unless I take him, which I’m not doing. It’ll be enough for me when we are back in Bavaria. We hope to be able to go sometime end of April for a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks instead of just one week, as Mum wants to do some gardening. She really wanted to stay by herself for three weeks, but I’m not sure about it because of the Corona situation. There’s nobody to go shopping for her. I hope the small village shop hasn’t gone out of business. Although it shouldn’t have, since it’s a grocery.

Anyway, to get back to the Easter weekend, we also did a lot of cooking:

  • Potatoes with a yogurt-herb dip
    It’s a German tradition to have something green on that day Maundy Thursday. Hence the herbs.
  • Mushroom risotto cooked with white wine (on Good Friday)
  • Home-made pizza (on Saturday)
  • Clauliflower in a tomato-caper sauce with celeriac polenta (on Easter Sunday)
    This one sounds strange, but it’s very nice. The celeriac polenta is polenta with a bit of grated celeriac in it. The celeriac makes it very flavourful and the capers spice up the tomato sauce. My partner found the recipe on the Internet.
  • Potato salad in a yogurt-mustard sauce, with fried tofu (on Easter Monday)

A lovely vegan meal plan. Tasty and not too much work. I like cooking, but not if it’s too complicated and takes too much time in the kitchen. Although I have to admit that my partner did most of the cooking. Mum made the pizza dough and I made the soy-yogurt herb dip and the potato salad. The list will come in useful as a reminder if next year we can’t think of anything to cook. Although these dishes are staples that we cook quite often.

My mum also backed a traditional yeast raisin loaf on Thursday. On Saturday, I bought some cake at the bakery and Partner backed a lovely apple cake for Sunday and Monday (my contribution was the cashew cream that went on top of it).

We watched some films and serials: a few episodes of The Mandalorian on Disney+, the first two episodes of Doc Martin season 9 on DVD, The Spy Who Loved Me (James Bond, Roger Moore), Contagion. I also did a lot of reading, but not as much as I had planned, mostly because the meditation took up a good chunk of time. Nevertheless, I’m all caught up with my short stories and poetry reading, as well as with David Copperfield. I also started a new nonfiction book, Erebus (it’s about the voyages of the HMS Erebus and I got for my birthday from my partner). On Friday I also wrote up my review of Song of Solomon, but the rest of the weekend I didn’t get around to writing anything, what with all the other things I was doing.

My colleagues at work also seem to have had a relaxed weekend. Nobody on my team is sick, thankfully.

Keep safe, world.

2020_04_14

Last Day of Easter

I stayed up late reading The Overstory. It’s about the huge biodiversity being wiped out by logging the forests of the world, focused on those in the US. It also shows the lives of a handful of people and their reaction to the ecological destruction. The lives of the characters form a kind of web, and the forest too, are enormous living webs that humans don’t understand but still destroy. It’s depressing. The world will revive, it has eons. But what will happen to humankind — nothing good in the short run and who knows what in the long. It’s amazing that humankind can be at once so creative and so destructive, blind and unfeeling toward nature and other beings.

Today we had home-made pizza for lunch, with salad. Easy and quick and always tasty. This Easter weekend has seen a lot of different, delicious meals, pumpkin soup, mushroom risotto, pizza, cake and desert. It’s amazing what three people can put away. No wonder I have to go grocery shopping every second day (not quite, but almost).

Well, back to work tomorrow. At least it’ll be two days of training, that’s bound to be more fun than normal office work. I’m looking forward to it. Also, a short week, only three days, instead of my usual four. And there’s another public holiday coming up next week, the first of May. Another short week! In Spring and early Summer there’s lots of public holidays in Germany and then there’s a long dry spell until the public holidays in Autumn. Summer is also really busy at the office, despite Summer vacation time.

I dug out some dandelions in my yard — I like the flowers, but I don’t want them to increase too much. It stops being funny when the entire lawn turns into a dandelion carpet. Also, I cut some of the longer grass bushels with a pair of scissors. I’ll have to think about getting a small pushmower soon. I want to plant some insect-friendly bushes and flowers. I wonder if there’s anything that grows in the shade next to or under the rhododendron hedge. I’ll have to look it up.

Curious Dog is getting curiouser and curiouser in a weird way. Sometimes he just refuses to go where we want to go. This afternoon he didn’t want to go along a field with me, for I don’t know what reason. I had to drag him and entice him with some treats. Last time we went walking there, we heard a few loud bangs, like toy guns or something. He doesn’t like bangs, and then pulled to go home, which we did. Maybe remembered that.

Anyway, when I overcome his reluctance with a bit of dragging (and treats, although treats don’t help that much), he perks up again afterwards and continues on like always. But it’s a pain. He also does it very often when we meet other dogs, even if they are far away. He wants to wait and play with them. But, of course, not all dogs want to play with him, and sometimes I don’t have time. He lies down, sticks his claws out and tries to grow roots. And then I almost end up pulling his harness over his head. And it’s not as though we don’t let him play with other dogs a lot, we do. He can be really stubborn.

I heard a cuckoo call three times as I was trying to drag Curious Dog along.

Meditation practice was again rather chaotic, with lots of wayward thoughts. Still, any sitting is better than no sitting and thoughts are what the mind does.