Sunday, 27 October 2013

Getting Ready And Going Backwards

Here's another photo from my summer visit to Ohio. There's a picturesque little town near Cincinnati called Glendale. The first time I visited I took photos of the pub with the British name of Cock and Bull and lots of squirrel statues scattered around the town. I posted these on the innovative but sadly defunct social site Multiply, so some of you may have seen them. Now when I visit, we have dinner in the pub and watch trains. I don't usually take photos. However, I'd never seen a black squirrel before, and this little guy seemed to be digging for China. How many black squirrels have you seen? 

Before I leave this quiet little town, let me tell you a couple of interesting facts about Glendale, Ohio. It started out as a holiday resort for the rich of Cincinnati, especially in the summer. From a commemorative plaque I saw this summer, Glendale was also famous during the Civil War for the 'battle that never happened'. Morgan's troops, who had arrived in Glendale, had expected to run into Union troops because of the railroad. Well, a trainload of Union soldiers did pass through the town. Lastly, the only actress who successfully committed suicide by jumping off the sign when it was still Hollywoodland is buried in the cemetery here. Her father lived in Glendale.

This morning I was somewhat confused when I turned on the TV expecting to watch the 'Victims Of Terrorism' demonstration and speeches. The demonstration was in protest against the European Court's decision to overturn the 'Parot Law' in Spain which states that terrorists and other dangerous criminals, such as rapists and serial killers, are to be kept imprisoned the maximum number of years. In other words, the seriousness of the crime dictates the sentence. The European Court has ruled this is against 'human rights'. One such terrorist was set free just hours after the decision was made. She is responsible for over 20 deaths, one of them being an American businessman who was in the street when the bomb went off. There are over 100 terrorists who will be able to benefit from the Court's decision. The mother of Sandra Palo, a young girl who was raped, run over by a car and whose body was set on fire and burned, was also attending the demonstration, so now her daughter's murderers can be free too, thanks to the Court. What about the rights of the victims? As for my confusion, I'd forgotten the time change. Woe is me! Now I have to get used to another timetable change.

It's probably good that I get an extra hour this weekend, because I've been quite busy. I did some baking yesterday, so I'll have homemade bread for a few days. I'm a messy cook though and had to clean the kitchen floor 3 times! Then in the afternoon, I finished getting all my winter things ironed and into the wardrobe. I often envy people who have wardrobes for winter and summer clothes. I used to, but now things from the past season have to go into bags or suitcases. Touching wood, it's still not too chilly out and I haven't put on the heating yet.

Hope everyone has a good week. You can be envious of my extra hour this weekend and Friday off, and then I can be envious of you next weekend and your time off at Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Or in my case: perejil, salvia, romero y tomillo. This summer while we were looking for my Chinese spider, I saw a spice carousel and got it for my sister as her spices were on a shelf in a kitchen cupboard all piggly wiggly if you know what I mean. This is my spice carousel that I've had since the 80's. Although sometimes I have to search for a particular spice because it's not out front, they're all here. The easiest ones to find are the ones from the Simon and Garfunkel song. For some inexplicable reason, I have to arrange these specific spices in this way. At least I'm not like Anne Tyler's 'The Accidental Tourist' in which 'the accidental tourist's' sister had everything arranged in alphabetical order in her kitchen - the ant killer was next to the allspice. Hope I'm not so neurotic! How about you? Have you got any unusual quirks that you wouldn't mind sharing?

Being less selfish and taking responsibility are two things that many have yet learnt to share. One afternoon this past week, the neighbour across the hall warned me that there was oil on the floor and steps. Why the person who'd spilt the oil didn't clean it I can't say, or why this lady who told me about the oil didn't. Perhaps because she rents and doesn't own her flat, she thinks she doesn't have to. As I was going to class, I quickly wrote a warning about the oil and put it on the bulletin board. When I returned from classes, no one had bothered trying to clean, so I got out my bucket and mop and cleaned the steps and floor of the entrance. It's always a feat to clean without having someone walk through where you've just mopped. When I finally got the hall mopped and dry, I put up a different message on the board saying that I'd only cleaned that part and was unsure if there was oil on the stairs leading to the other flats. According to my frequently annoying neighbour, there was oil from the second floor, so I'm sure they also spilt some on the stairs. How dangerous is that dripping a slippery liquid like oil throughout a building and leaving it? Would the person who left the trail of oil feel guilty if someone had fallen and really hurt themselves? The least this person can do is apologize for being selfish and not taking the time to clean up the mess. We all have things to do and places to go.

Wow! This sort of turned into a rant post, but then that's something some of us need to do from time to time. I know I do. However, my favourite way to end such a post is wish everyone a good week. Have a good week all. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Another Summer Project

Homemade laundry detergent was another thing I'd placed on my summer projects list. This is a joint effort between my sister and me. It seemed to me that just about everybody was making their own, and I wanted to see if it was really that good before I committed myself to getting the ingredients to make it. The recipes call for washing soda and we only have baking soda, so I thought I'd have to buy that in the US. Since our venture, I've read that you can make washing soda by baking baking soda. Maybe a bit more complicated making it, but I'm used to finding substitutes. When I run out of what I brought back, I'm going to use Lagarto soap, which is a very mild soap with lots of uses. It's a soap I'll use for washing my face.

As you can see from my label, I've written two tablespoons per load. I've seen some recipes that suggest one tablespoon per load, so if you want to use only one, I imagine that's sufficient. The important thing is you're saving money and not harming the environment with harsh ingredients. You also feel good about having made something useful. One of my friends' birthday is at the end of this month and I'm going to give her a tub as part of the package I'm making up.

Having said I'll be making more when what I have is finished tells you I really like it. Do you make your own laundry detergent? You can find the ingredients in the detergent aisle of the supermarket. We used Fels Naptha soap, but I've seen other brands mentioned and even Ivory soap. We made a big batch and used 3 soaps. The recipe we used is as follows:

  • 1 cup finely grated Fels Naptha soap
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
 Next I'll be making dishwasher tablets.

Autumn is definitely here. I haven't put the heating on yet, but I'm thinking it's a wonderful afternoon to do some baking. I'll hold off on the washing soda until I need it though. Hope everybody has a good week.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Pickpockets and Spiders

Well, I can finally cross something off my 'gadgets' list on Pinterest as something that I've acquired and find super useful. It's popularly called a Chinese spider (because of the metal basket which looks like a spider web) and can be used for taking food out of hot oil, as it drains off the excess oil effortlessly, or for draining pasta. In case you don't know by now which gadget hanging up there is the Chinese spider, it's the one with the metal basket and the bamboo handle. I initially was going to order mine from Amazon, but I checked prices on the internet and saw that it was 2 dollars cheaper at Bed Bath & Beyond. It always pays to compare prices as we all know.

One day this past week I got a phone call from my neighbour (the one I'm always happy not to see) saying her handbag had been stolen from inside her flat and she had to go to the police station to report it. She owns two flats in the building - one on my floor and she lives in one on the first floor. At the moment the one on my floor is empty although she's just told me there's a possibility that she was going to rent it out soon. Anyway, she's always going up and down from one flat to the other and she leaves the doors open in both places. Although I think she left her bag downstairs with her bag of art supplies, she thinks she left it upstairs. I suppose it was someone from the building who took it, because later that same evening she told me she had found her bag minus her wallet hanging on the door downstairs.

Last week I posted on facebook a story about a wallet that was hindering a door of one of the trains from closing properly. Inside the wallet the mechanic, whose job it was to repair the door, found a check for $2 million written out to someone from California. So far they haven't been claimed, which makes me wonder. Yesterday morning, I was again helping my friends from the language institute, only this time it was to unpack the books we'd put into boxes in July. As soon as we got into the underground station afterwards, we were warned about pickpockets by a guard. That's life in a big city!

My first week back to work was hard. I'm adjusting to the time change and routine more or less and sleeping better. Hope everyone's week is a good one.