Friday, 31 August 2012

Life's Little Pleasures (2)

This is my second post on LLPs (Life’s Little Pleasures) – the first one can be seen by clicking here.

“All you need is love.
But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
~ Charles M Schulz

To take the bull by the horns, this blog started off as group therapy after my gastric band operation in December 2008.  It was invaluable to me at the beginning, for there is a magnificent sorority in cyberspace whatever your problem is - all going through the same thing and willing to help others.  I was truly grateful and did my best to offer help too.

I did very well in the first 18 months, but less so after that because of the conflict between my pathetic willpower, my type 2 diabetes and the restriction of the band.   One day I’ll feel again that moment of pure joy when some kilos have come off and I can get back into clothes I used to adore wearing.

So referring to foods as being little pleasures is over-indulgent, and yet leaving them off this list is just fooling myself, because (alas) certain foods provide a myriad of little pleasures.  Let me say therefore that 90% of the disproportionate pleasure I get from food is listed in this post (click here) and is food from Argentina which comes with pictures ... (sorry, can’t look!), and to which I would add milk chocolate in any form, sponge cake with copious quantities of butter icing made by yours truly, marble cake and seven-minute icing made by my sister, milky drinks hot and ice-cold, and freezing cold water which hurts as you swallow it.  And if drunk from a mountain stream on a hot day through cupped hands, even better.

Cooking gives me pleasure in a way that is unconnected with eating.  As a skill it can be very rewarding when you are complimented on your preparation of food.  I’m reasonably competent at roasts, paellas and casseroles, enjoying trying out a new ingredient which gives it a twist.  I found it very satisfying when I created a starter combining ingredients I liked and my guests enjoyed it (a salad using traditional elements plus several others, dressed with olive oil, lemon, soy sauce, chopped mint and garlic, topped with strips of parma ham and drizzled with sweet chilli sauce, served with crusty bread).
Living within my Head

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
~ Maya Angelou

Writing - I’m never bored there, in my head.  Leave me alone and I’ll read if I can, write, or think, or as a mental exercise try to remember things I’ve virtually forgotten (such as poetry, or songs).  The LLP's come from a story I’ve written which I’m pleased with; the germ of a story when I remember something; blogging - when I think of myself ten years ago before I knew about it, and what a difference it’s made to my life.  The little pleasure that turns to exhilaration is when I’m enjoying the story I’m telling; my mind has soared up into the air and it’s just my disembodied fingers flying over the keys.  I know it because if the phone rings or someone comes into the room to speak to me it’s as if they’ve crashed through an invisible door.  I don’t know if what I write is any more than average, but the pleasure is the same as I’m sure it must be for any writer, aspiring or otherwise.

Loving I mean this in the broadest sense.  I refer to the little pleasures of loving or being extremely fond of someone (of any age) and being inspired to do something for them when they’re not aware of it.  Perhaps bringing them into a conversation so that they become the centre of attention, choosing just the right thing for a present or planning ahead so that an outing or event involving them goes smoothly.  Noticing when it has been done for me is definitely an LLP.

Beholding beautiful objects

Pliny, about the opal:
“There is in them a softer fire than the ruby,
there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst
and the sea green of the emerald –
all shining together in incredible union. 
Some by their splendour rival the colours of the painters,
others the flame of burning sulphur
or of fire quickened by oil.”

The inherent beauty of jewellery used to give me enormous pleasure, whether my own or in a shop window, particularly the colour and inner glow of precious stones.  I inherited a few and at one time bought myself some little pieces on eBay.  I loved them dearly, particularly the heirlooms, and felt strongly that I was merely their custodian – one day they would be passed down to my descendants. 

When planning to go out, having my hair and nails done was part of the ritual preliminary to choosing which little pieces would match my clothes – earrings, pendant, rings.  Definitely one of life’s pleasures.  But then came the fall after the pride. 

I returned home one evening three years ago to find that we had had burglars while John was in the house or the garden, and they had taken all my jewellery, except that in their haste they had left several single earrings behind.  I grieve for the individual pieces still as though they were lost friends,

Aquamarine heart, given to my mother
by her godmother when she was a little girl

...and cannot bear to even think about wearing any jewellery at all, never mind talking about the subject generally.  All I’ve got left are the three things I was wearing on the day of the burglary, (a tiny garnet cross round my neck, my gold hoop earrings and a gold ring for my little finger with the face of a cat on it) which I’ve never removed.  Unfortunately there are still times where I’ll suddenly remember one, forgotten up to that moment, and it hurts all over again.

Some pieces from youth which I had had photographed
 in the 80s for insurance purposes.

“They’re just things” says John.  Not to me they weren’t.  I think this is a gender divide, and women tend to feel more emotional about such objects.


Photo Finish
from Lonicera's non-digital archive

More pictures of Bowood,
country mansion in Wiltshire,
which is open to the public

A Photoshop experiment -
choosing a section of a picture and allowing the grain to show,
and exaggerating the colours slightly
to make it look as if it has been painted. 
(No filters used)
I quite like the result.



OneStonedCrow said...

Well, not being able to cook (I do enjoy good food prepared by someone else, especially a well-done steak) I can't say much about food being one of life's little pleasures ...

... I totally agree with you on Loving - thanks for reminding me about it ...

Reddirt Woman said...

Almost 25 years ago our home was broken into while I was in college and Carol was teaching. Lots of Jeff's games and gaming console were taken along with the contents of my jewelry box. In that box was the thing I valued most, a ring that my big brother had brought back to me from a trip to Africa. It was all hand wrought and he told me how it was fabricated, the wires being stretched by hand by artisans in a grass hut by natural light... It wasn't expensive by most standards but was priceless to me because of the story and that my big brother had thought of me. It was one of the few things that was never recovered and I miss it to this day.

John (like most men) just doesn't understand about our "friends".

Have a good weekend.

Lonicera said...

Graham - I must admit steak is way up there, though I prefer it medium myself...
Thanks Helen - I remember how devoted you are to your younger brother, and can only imagine how this must have hurt.

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Sandy said...

I feel your pain about the theft of jewellery. I took a small heart shaped pendant to the jeweller to have the chain fixed and they had a theft, including my little locket. I was given it at 4 years old as a flower girl at my cousins wedding and even though they replaced it, the new one held no meaning or memories. Yes it is just a thing but it hold memories. By writing about it you are cementing that memory into your heart as much as if it was still here. Wear the few pieces you still have proudly.

Lonicera said...

You made me well up Sandy, thank you for saying that.

Joyful said...

I can wholeheartedly agree to all these LLPs, except for cooking which I do love but is not at the top of my list. I like eating more than cooking, lol, but I do take pleasure in the odd occasion where I invite someone to eat and they enjoy it. I just find the whole process leading up to it to be rather stressful though if they have enjoyed it, it gives me pleasure to know that.

I'm so sorry about the theft of your jewellery. It looks like you had some beautiful and sentimental pieces and it is so hard to lose things of sentimental value.

Lonicera said...

Comment much appreciated Penny. MY stress is having to clean and tidy the house beforehand, with John saying "I don't understand why you get stressed out about it, it doesn't show, just leave it." He offers to do the vaccuming, but leaves it to 10 minutes before the guests arrive. So when guests roll up I'm all flushed and cross with John!!

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