Mr. SaclĂ , watch your back

I have one olive tree in my garden, planted near to the rose pergola. It has been pruned by me on advice and multiple photos to a friend in Sardinia, into an open vase shape. So I was extremely proud of it when in its first year it bore a couple of olives, yes two, a few more the next but this year quite a lot. I enjoyed harvesting them and got several, enough to fill 8/9 jars. I found some information on the net and religiously changed the water I had soaked them in for twentyone days. After that journeys up and down to my cellar to bring them into the light and prepare a solution of brine. In the meantime they afforded a hugely enjoyable lesson when my students joked that they would help me; one fed up with her job, would like to help harvest, another said she’d like to do the marketing, still another thought she could design the label. Wow, all for one little tree! Then of, course I forgot about them. I left the olives in the cellar for too long in the first strong brine solution. When I tasted them, they were awful. But wait, maybe it’s just me, I had to stay in the pronto soccorso for 24 hours once owing to lack of salt because I don’t like it and rarely eat it, so maybe it’s just my natural aversion to salt. I waited for my kids to come and they said it wasn’t dramatic but yes, maybe it’d be better to wash them.

So mad searches on internet, frantic phone calls to anyone who knew anything about olives. By now it’s high drama. Then I remembered a dear friend, ex-student and chemist in the food industry. Several telephone calls and text messages later, the olives have been washed and soaked in oligomineral water with a slice of lemon for a couple of days (The lemon to protect from mould), tasted, and when found edible (not just edible actually, but pretty good) they have been put back in their jars in a new less salty brine solution, and will remain in it for the next 20 days when they will be tasted again. Fingers crossed. So now it’s very likely that there will be a new brand of lovingly hand-picked Lesmo olives which will cost the earth. That’s why I think Mr. SaclĂ  needs to look out!


Wicca’s Diary 3

My human is a bit slow. It has taken me nearly 2 whole months to teach her that I would like her to come when I call. In the morning I’d quite like to share her cereal but she only leaves me the tiniest portion in her bowl. Never mind. She understands about feeding me in general, but we’ve had a long tug o’ war about meal times and I have had to let her win. So now we stick to something she calls breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. I have mananaged ,at last, to get her to come and stroke me while I eat, I thought she’d never learn. She also seems to like to play so I humour her. She’s made a big red ball out of string and tissue paper which she throws at me.(Actually it’s quite a good game but I try not to be too enthusiastic because as you know we cats have a reputattion for standoffishness and dignified disdain.)

However even I can’t manage dignified disdain all the time. I like to sit on her window sill and look at the birds. Damned birds: SHE GIVES THEM FOOD! Just let them wait til I get out there. We’ve had blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows, a robin (too cheeky by far) and lately some capuccino-coloured doves. She was pleased, said they “bode good luck and inner peace.” I’ve told you this before, humans can’t ever just enjoy their moments! Always searching for “meaning.”

However let’s get back to talking about play. The red tissue paper which she made the ball from was previously wrapped round her flower pot. Clare, the lady who came to fetch me from the hell of the animal refuge place, came and wrapped the pot in red paper saying it was more Christmassy. But I managed little by little to tear it off and we had tiny bits of red tissue paper all over the house. I think that’s where she got the idea from so I’m thinking up some more games for her. I do feel sorry for her because she sits in front of her machine (computer?) a lot and plays with the keys, so do I at times but it’s honestly not much fun. So now I’m on the look out to try and keep her busy. Last night I broke the water fountain thingie and she seemed to think that was both naughty and clever! Who can understand these humans! But I know she tries hard.


Alphabetization is not my thing, Marie Kondo!

I’ m fed up with being told how untidy I am. But really I’m not untidy where it matters! Anybody can be tidy in their house, easy-peasy, but I’m tidy in my drawers, bookshelves, cellar! Howzatt! But wanting to show you all and the two tidy-police who are my kids, I decided to do something useful during lockdown, catalogue my dvds. I bought beautiful trendy shelves which hold 50- ish, seemingly invisibly attached to my wall. They could hold more if 1) I were taller 2) I had a taller stepladder! Anyway off I go full of enthusiasm. First the listing, then putting them into boxes using my own alphabet order as well as that of a new app which I actually paid for, I’m not a cheapskate! (Concerning the app it’s in Italian and the list of film genres is not as large as I hoped, as usual we have very precise categories in English including the marvellous”mockumentary)

Let’s put them in the boxes, great, shuffle, rearrange, leave a little space for growth, great. DAMMIT!

Some more dvds hiding (I swear) behind some books. Move the dvds out of the box (by now they’re boxed ) to accomodate the newly-found ones. Good. Wait a moment what’s that on my bookshelf? Damn damn damn. Out they come again and are rearranged. If I find any more I’ll…….I find some more. I shall put them on the floor that’ll make any future rearrangements so much simpler… does. Now that they are on the floor ready to be boxed, quite casually (never send off a picture on Whatsapp CASUALLY) I send a photo to a friend who’s interested in films for the technicalities, the nitty-gritty. Not for the beauty or interest of the film. Are those dvds on your floor? YES. Haven’t you got underfloor heating?( You my readers already know where this is going don’t you?) But they’re not vinyl, they won’t bend …..will they? Put them on the table (table too untidy, anyway the cat would knock them off, though I don’t actually say this) .So I sign off the phone call and try to sleep. Still trying at 230, so I get up in the middle of the night and put them, not quite randomly in boxes, on chairs, on a blanket and go back to bed. Previously I had already sourced the perfect boxes at the local supermarket.The first time I went I had decided to pick them up at the end of my shopping and it was not until I was halfway home when I remembered I had forgotten. The next time I went, there was a huge display of boxes but none of the ones I wanted! Woe is me. I made a glum detour and found them, hidden away, by now in despair. All I have to do now is pack them into the boxes and find someone strong to take them down into my cellar! what price tidiness!


Wicca’s Diary 2

My Human has been changing things around in our house. She’s taken down an awful picture of a very depressed-looking woman that looks like a younger version of herself and put up a rather beautiful Buddha picture, he’s lying down in bliss . It’s bad for humans to be depressed; they have no real understanding of themselves because they have something they call “Past” and something they call “Future”. I hear her talking about it almost every day when she’s teaching her students. Now, if they would all just live in the “now”, the now in which they are smiling at each other , and laughing, surely that would be better? It is Anne’s fault too because she tells them ” Next week, we’ll do blah blah blah…”

I’ve done a little changing things myself! She has this poinsetta, a white one which she shouldn’t, they’re poisonous for us cats, so to prove my point and remind her of her duty towards me, I knocked it off the shelf. But then I felt sorry because she was so upset “Naughty Cat” she said, “my students sent it to me, it’s so beautiful” and she put it back again; I suppose she knows I’m not dopey enough to eat it; I’ve got street cred! I’ll probably let her keep it as she likes it so much, she’s even draped it in tiny Christmas lights and often admires it.

The latest absurdity of hers is a big notice she’s posted. She grins when she reads it thinking its funny. Ah, Anne’ s got a long way to go if she thinks she’ll train me with humour! Anyway, I’ve been exploring and have discovered where she keeps her saucepans, if you saw them you’d realise she’s obviously not a cook poor thing!


Dismantling Christmas


Well Dickens and the Victorians* invented it (as we know it) so I guess we can just as soon dismantle it. With a little help from our politicians who want to keep us in a small safety bubble. But I wasn’t actually talking about that. I took the decorations down yesterday, the 3 Wise men arrived bringing their gifts, although they always seem to leave me out .I’ve been waiting for wisdom for such a long time now! What I got in exchange though was an almost insatiable curiosity about the world around me which, from reaching afar has been made tiny in these covid times. But wait! In spite of the restrictions I still have all I need, and more . A lot of love without hugs yes, but that’s ok. A lot more travel-less time to do my job well and go down all the new avenues I now have the leisure to discover, some opening up into splendid future vistas, others leading to dead ends. I’m learning hope from my garden, as ever. Don’t need any Wise men to tell me that do I?

*Although they already had Christmas cards and Christmas trees it was only when Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” that Christmas went crazy! If you have Amazon Prime there’s a feel-good film about it. Christians had been celebrating Christ’s birth of course, and Germanic tribes had been using evergreen decorations to keep away witches, ghosts and evil spirits long before that. But it was with Ebeneezer Scrooge & co. that family gatherings and sentimental Christmasses really took off. With Dylan Thomas’s wonderful “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” a layer of bitter-sweet nostalgia was added. However much as we mock ourselves for getting into these consumeristic, spendthrift, overblown Christmasses, maybe we should think again. Through no fault of anyone’s I ate a pretty miserable Christmas dinner alone but then I had a wonderful heart-warming surprise when the whole masked family turned up for panettone and Italian spumante (or English tea) quaffed under the sun blind to shelter from the rain the outliers who couldn’t be socially distanced in the patio! It only lasted long enough enough to eat the last sultanas but Dickens was right, it is about family after all. So don’t be Christmas snobs, and join in the Merriment!