Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


When I brought Buckley back this afternoon, old Tom was sitting waiting for me.

"D'ye use limes?"

"Yes! D'you grow them?"

"Nope. The tree does."

So now I have a bucket of limes.

Pizza from Scratch

I made pizza dough in the breadmaker and the crust was wonderful, I'll do it again. The last time was in Park Village East!

1.5 cups very warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2.75 cups strong bread flour
.5 cup semolina flour

dump in together depending on your machine, set to 'dough' and 'pizza'

Roll out half on semolina flour, dress it, bake at high heat on a pizza stone. Keep the rest for later.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Spigot of Mental Health

Mutual deep musings with my sister on getting a handle on wholesome and satisfying mental landscapes. They are landscapes: if the mind has mountains it also has the upland valley so dear to me. And the seashore.

I had an epiphany when I woke this morning, late because I was immersed in Haute-Provence half the night. I looked out at the light on the water and surveyed the possibilities of the day, they seemed endless and I felt like a child, open to enticements of a world made to explore. That is the attitude! Now, how to cultivate it.

If I could bring myself to belief we are here to be loved, and to love, that would do it. I have to shake off a petty and vindictive God, and have faith.

Staying Up Late

Once again the blessing of a consummately occupied and happy weekend, ending just minutes ago with the final pages of Jean de Florette. I found Aubagne on the map in the kitchen, it is one big snarl of autoroutes now though I know how quickly one can get lost in the hills, even within earshot of the traffic.

I will try to find the original film with Jacqueline Pagnol as Manon, and tonight I will start on the second novel, maybe leaving the viewing of the second film for a few more days of being lost in the book.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh Dear Oh Dear

Garden watered, floors washed, litter tray cleaned, linens ironed, canopy up - what do I do next?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sea Level

Yesterday evening I sat out on the deck to watch the sunset, which it did very slowly. The sun itself is hidden by Mount Tam, so the fascinating thing is watching the changes of light on the water, which glows like a living thing against the reeds, and the breakwater, the islands and finally, the Richmond Bridge with Oakland beyond. The tide was just coming in, quite fast at first, and the ducks arrived home in a hurry, and I could see the egrets flocking to East Marin Island where they nest, very conspicuous against the darkness of the trees.

I sat watching the colours change in the sky, reversing from blue and yellow to pink and blue, Suscipe sitting peacefully on my chest, rather warm despite the deliciously smelly low-tide breeze and my chilled white wine.

By the time the transformation was complete the lights on the bridge and Oakland were brightest, and I could see the line of planes taking off from SFO like heavy metal stars, against the swallows and the odd late hurrying duck. If I squinted I could centre a star in the middle of my prized circular driftwood. How much wine did I have?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dyed Again this Morning

Two more swatches of linen, plus my right hand when I forgetfully removed the cloth with it instead of tongs while adding the soda ash.

It has been satisfying dyeing the cloth I already had. For one thing the linen is superior, and it is a simple economy. Also I wanted basic, utilitarian colours and these simple dyes are traditional, just like the undercoat colours I prefer. These cheap, well-worn pigments are what makes Farrow & Ball so authentic.

I even sort of hope the colours run a bit when I wash them.

As I crunch through the many tiny purple fruits of our towering privets I wonder again if I have the guts to take them out. Scabby, rangey, messy, ugly, they are still trees in a difficult spot. They get no sun till they clear the roof, it is windy, the soil is rocky and they are only a foot away from the foundations. I would be thoroughly grateful for them, maybe should be thoroughly grateful, except for the mess.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

True Mark of an Empty Nester

Maybe is is just piteous, but I have made cushion covers of the letters W, C and F in nautical flags, and I am very pleased with them. Couldn't handle primary red whaite and blue so went for rust, natural and indigo so at least hopeless maternal fondness is smart. Photos soon, have to dye a new batch of blue as not quite enough, since I did both sides - one side of a cushion pattern looks mean. After all, I was the one who embroidered extra motifs onto the back of a cardigan because having the pattern end at the side seam offended my sensibilities. Also giving the world something to focus on between the shoulder blades draws attention from the bum. I offer this as someone who takes her obligations to the next generation seriously.


Yesterday I went to the Bank of Marin and was bitten by a parrot.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Riding in Cars with Boys

Four days of whizzing around LA in a red Mustang convertible with the top down have left me all dizzy with pleasure and indulgence. The pools, the hot tubs, the amazing Korean spa - the pleasure of long afternoons chatting with the girls, scurrilous gossip and playing with the baby and the dogs: everything a break should be.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Off to LA

Chocolate mousse is really delicious on toast, like Nutella without the nuts.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Widow's Cruse

Mel and Judy are coming for dinner tonight so I planned the menu : Creme de Crecy, enormous garlic prawns in abundance with rice and salads, and chocolate mousse (was going to be petits pots but I had no cream).

I found recipes on the internet and went with Julia Childs even though it was fiddley - cooling things in ice-water baths, the sort of thing I usually skip but not today, oh no.

And then I started to fill my little pots. And more little pots. Small teacups. Votive glasses. Shot glasses. My doll's tea set. The recipe for four, using four eggs, filled twenty-two little vessels.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Many Small Things

Nailed the flapping eaves lining back into place

Moved hooks for canopy to accommodate the new lights

Sewed new cords on canopy

Cleaned my poor Dapple Grey of a Dyson - carpet layers vacuumed up CORDS, and all the filters needed washing

So I did the Stinger too

Sprayed all plants with fertiliser on the theory that after rain is a good time to do it

Polished the dishwasher (what?)

Mended the cafetiere cosy, whose insides were coming out

Lifted all the knots of my knot collection from the horrid varnished board and arranged them on a driftwood plank, hitches with hitches, bends with bends, all proper

Finished the third sofa cushion

Vacuumed, of course

Washed down the kitchen cabinets for painting

Planted out geranium and daisy cuttings

Packed a parcel, properly

Flea-ed the cat

Inadvertently flea-ed myself too

Looked up Ghazi's street in Paris - nice!

Assembled the materials to make signal cushions, except for blue dye from Dharma

Cleaned wood stove out for the summer

Threw out things I had tired of

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Examining my own unlovely motives re. Buckley I realise I have cast myself as Cruella de Vil, King David and Ugolin. I intend to behave well however, so offer to walk him only every few days, and never feed him. He greeted me enthusiastically yesterday, and greeted Tom the same way on our return.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Le Mistral

We are suffering here with incessant wind - pots blown over, crashes in the night, hair always in one's eyes, bright sun and cold. One is very irritated.