Sunday, January 25, 2009

25 January: Domestic goddess or what?

Today I have been mostly making marmalade.

I had this idea that home-made marmalade would be nicer than the shop stuff. And there's a preserving pan in the cupboard. We have assiduously recycled all our empty glass jars for months, but recently all jars have been carefully put aside; there were 6 by the time I spotted the marmalade oranges in the supermarket (just when I'd begun to think that Mr Tesco knew that nobody made their own any more, and didn't stock them). Luckily the cook shop in Durham sells jam jars.

Unsure how much would come from a bag of oranges, I bought 2 bags. By the time one bagful was chopped up this morning, it was perfectly clear that there were enough oranges for a couple of years' supply, at least.

So here is 1.5 kilos of oranges, one lemon, and 6 pints of water stewing away merrily -

Unfortunately, the instructions about the pips were a bit unclear, and when the fruit was cooked up, there were about a thousand pips still in it. So a merry hour or so was spent picking the pips out.

In went 3 kilos of sugar, and the whole lot boiled -

until it was done. Then came a rather sticky episode, pouring the (extremely hot) marmalade into a jug which poured it erratically into the assembled warm jars -

This photo is after wiping off the excess stickiness. The recipe booklet is one that my mother extravagantly paid sixpence for, but it's probably been worth it.

I was so pleased with my efforts that I made some labels on the computer; the jars may be an odd assortment, but the labels all match!

Now, what about that second bag of oranges.....

Monday, January 19, 2009

19 January: All change

It's no wonder my eczema's flared up.

DH's application for early retirement (only a few months early) has been approved, and he will retire at the end of this month. After 42 and a half years, man and boy, in the same job, he is finally leaving.

There will be all sorts of adjustments to make. We have considered down-sizing, but whenever we think carefully about that, it seems that what we really need is a bigger house. Anyway, moving anywhere might be rather tricky in the present economic climate.

How will we cope with having each other around all the time? We haven't even got a shed.

He has never been a great one for hobbies or joining clubs and things, and I can't see that changing. When people have been asking him what he plans to do with his retirement, he's been saying he wants to get out more. (His father's answer to the same question was "nothing", which he did very successfully for many years.)

All sorts of possibilities are open, but I certainly found that when I retired and had the time and freedom to do whatever I wanted, I didn't really want to do anything much. It might be different with the two of us - we shall see.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

17 January: Sunshine!

"Rain before 7, fine by 11" - held good today, so we decided to park in Hollingside Lane for our shopping trip into Durham.

The sun was shining as we walked through Great High Wood -

and there were signs of spring in the leaf litter -

Walking down from what used to be Mountjoy cottage gives a different view of the cathedral -

A different view across Kingsgate Bridge -

When we walked back along the river bank, there was much activity on the river - a game of kayak basketball under Baths Bridge, and lots of rowing all along the river (with the obligatory view of the cathedral in the background!).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

14 January: ABC Wednesday - Z

Zen Buddhism - as Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett said, a religion for adults. You take responsibility for your own training, though there are teachers to guide and help. You do it yourself, meditation and keeping the Precepts; and you get the karmic consequences of your actions. (The law of karma states that every action has a consequence, or an equal and opposite reaction - or was that something else?)

Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, Three Refuges, Ten Great Precepts - lots of numbers. Most of them are different aspects of the same thing. It's not easy, but you try to learn from mistakes, and do better.

As I understand it, and I could be wrong, Soto Zen differs from Rinzai Zen in that there is less emphasis on koans; as the Rules for Meditation tell us "the koan appears naturally in daily life". Zen Buddhism differs from other Buddhist paths in its emphasis on formal seated meditation.

There are probably more varieties of Buddhism than of Christianity. Google will help if you want to know more.

Zen and karma are words that have been taken from their original meanings and applied in a fuzzy way to all sorts of stuff, and Buddha figures have been used as household and garden ornaments - it amuses me to think of people using Jesus in the same way, but at least it gives Buddhists a chance to bow to Buddha more often.

"going, going, going on beyond, and always going on beyond - always becoming Buddha"

Homage to the Buddha,
Homage to the Dharma,
Homage to the Sangha.

Monday, January 12, 2009

12 January: Finished jersey

And here's the jersey mentioned in the previous post, now finished. The pink and turquoise (which were done with dyes named Plum and Sage) are a bit brighter than I expected, and the pattern that started off looking like waves has ended up looking more like circular saws.

But it's lovely and warm, and soft and comfortable.

It's hard to photograph a jersey you're wearing, but here's an attempt.

If that doesn't make the weather warm up a bit, I don't know what will.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

7 January: ABC Wednesday - Y

Yarn, of course! My passion is spinning and dyeing my own yarn, so that I have lots to choose from when I knit. Not only wool, sometimes silk, soy, Tencel, even recycled plastic bottle fibre; but mostly wool.

Some of this recently dyed Shetland is my current jersey-in-progress -

This dyed BFL fibre (that's fleece from the Blue Faced Leicester breed of sheep) was spun and knitted up into a big warm shawl -

Most of this yarn, the purple merino and silk, and the tweedy grey mixed wool and silk, are destined for a jacket which is in the planning stage, and may be the next project on the needles -

And this is my current yarn and fibre storage system, 5 folding crates, with associated bags -

And, as the fibre supply is a bit low, an order for more has just been posted - I may need another crate!