Friday, March 27, 2015

Bread Making update

We have been working on our bread making with the new, odd little bread baking thing.  This is our 4th loaf.  It's a lovely shape - the first time we've managed to get one that looks like a normal loaf.  The texture is even better than the three previous loaves, too.  

The difference was that I kneaded it a tiny bit - maybe 10 or 15 times- and shaped it.  Small difference, but results.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lewes Prison

We had lunch with a friend yesterday. She has just moved from Brighton to a rather idyllic little house in Lewes with views across the downs.  The bus stop is in front of Lewes Prison, which is this kind of castle-y fortress looking place.

It's mid-Victorian, of course.  The Victorians really the mastered Grim and Foreboding architectural school.  It famously housed prisoners of war from the Crimean War. It held Irish rebels after the Easter Uprising, including Éamon de Valera.  

Most famously of all (to my generation), Mick Jagger spent a night there in a drug bust.  After which the editor of the Times wrote an editorial with the wonderful title, 'Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel,' protesting the police decisions that had been made.  

In 2003 there were riots in the prison protesting the conditions. They sound appalling, not the lovely 'Period Details' one might hope for in a mid-Victorian property.

The picture is captured from the internet, which I feel a bit guilty about. it was credited to David Hill/Daily Mirror.

The reason I used it is because this is the picture I took. It's pretty hilariously terrible. 


I've been preoccupied with painting the kitchen cupboards. Last time I did the lower cupboards, so this time I'm completing the upper cupboards.  Everything is a mess at the moment.

Some of the cupboard sides and trim is also being painted in situ, so it's not in this picture. And there are cupboard doors you can't see in these pictures.  But you can begin to see what a mess we are in.

The slight disappointment we had is that the carpenter who is going to reinstall the soffit above the cupboards and put up the window blind and various other things is booked until May. So we will have to wait until June to finish the kitchen completely.  Well, for now.   But, if this is the worst disappointment this week, it will be a good week. 

All of the woodwork in the flat needs repainting. I'm thinking that I am going to start by doing the hall in sections.  I'll prep and tape and paint one length or one doorway at a time, so it's not such a mess and still leaves time to do other things.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The English Language Game

I love this - you couldn't do this with French, where words have a much more strict order that English.  I find it an elegant demonstration of the power of English.

The English Game:  Place the word 'only' anywhere in this sentence:

"She told him that she loved him."

Goldengrove, unleaving..

Last Wednesday I woke feeling a bit sad and with the first few lines of a poem rattling around in my brain - "Margaret are you grieving/ Over Goldengrove unleaving?/ Leaves like the things of man, you/with your fresh thoughts care for, can you?"

I remember discussing this in some class in High School and being told that it's about an adult talking to a small child who is weeping because the leaves are falling from the trees.  And, beyond that, Goldengrove is a kind of Eden, where death does not exist and the child's tears are about her discovery of mortality - the lot of all living things.

Not saying that's wrong.  But I've always loved this poem and it speaks to me personally of all change, not simply mortality and death. There's something about the use of the word 'unleaving' that to me has always been numinous with echos of 'leaving'.  Leaving is always sad for me.  I attach. That's at the core of who I am, so leaving is always a wrench.  Even when I leave a hotel room after one night, I turn and look at it on the way out and have a little Moment.

The reason I was feeling sad was that we were leaving for Brighton and it was sad to me to leave Ipswich.  I will feel the same way when we leave Brighton in the end of April.  I tell myself it's just part of the price I pay for  going places, for living two lives simultaneously.  It's a thing I don't talk about much. It is a lovely thing to be able to have these two homes, but it is not without its costs.

When we flew out of Boston it was after dark and the whole area was filled with lights - so beautiful.  I didn't think to take a picture at first, but here is one, which hardly does justice to the scene:

So, anyway, we left on a flight that was emptier than any I have seen in many years. I had a whole row of seats in the middle to stretch out it.  Though not as comfortable as it seemed it should be, at least I was horizontal for a few hours. As it grew light outside, I returned to sit by the COG and we were treated to the most amazing sunrise above a thick blanket of clouds:

Then, we were in London and quickly en route to Brighton.  Got to the flat, it was still there and unchanged.  And we napped. 

Here is the complete poem, so you don't have to  Google it:

Spring and Fall

to a young child
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Bread of Life

We've been here not quite a week. It has been a rather difficult reentry this time.  I don't know why some times its more difficult than others, but.... it is.

Anyway, we are now feeling pretty human again. I've started to paint the upper cupboards in the kitchen, Part II, after last time.  We have a carpenter coming to give us estimates on Saturday for some little odd jobs - the biggest one being putting the soffit back up in the kitchen.

And yesterday we made bread.  We have a weird new bread Thing called the Lékué bread maker.  It doesn't actually make bread - you make the bread in it. You weight, mix,  knead and shape and, finally, bake all in this one odd flexible silicone bowl/container, Thing.

Last night, the COG started our first loaf and baked it this morning. We used our standard No-Knead recipe, but the Lékué technique.  So it was mixed last night in the Apparatus and sat in it over night, then we just put it into the oven without even shaping it.  After 40 minutes, we took it out, turned it over and put it back for 10 minutes to dry the bottom.

It made a beautiful little bullet shaped loaf, which I am happy to report  was really really good - crusty and chewy and delicious.

The COG costed it out at about 50 or 60 cents (American) a loaf.  Not counting the £20 we spent on the Thing, of course.  He also figured out that we will have paid for the Thing after a mere 10 or so loaves (calculating using the most expensive bakery loaf we know).  All neatly rationalized.

It's a beautiful day here. The COG is going for a walk and I am staying home to sand cabinets.