Friday, September 30, 2011

all day with Mary B...

I'm still working on the right mix of chores and dissipations for the days I have committed to spend with Mary Brown -- I did a lot of unappealing paper work last night, with the benefit of cleared flat surfaces to contemplate today... I have a mess of cookery to attend to -- a batch of yogurt, some fridge-cleaning-out, defrosting my freezer while stocks are low, IRONING.

And then perhaps I can spend some time sorting out my pantry shelves... and gathering up all the fountain and/or cartridge pens in the place and reaming them out and getting them running again... and writing a very tall stack of notes and letters to folks.

Somewhere in here there needs to be a sermon also! I am guest-preaching away from St. Curious on Sunday morning, among people I don't know at all -- so the approach to the text will take some pondering.

It is a busy and "fraught" time in Ramblerland...some of it unbloggable, and some of it not-bloggable-before-a-given-date. That date is now past, and so "now it can be told" that along about Easter, all being well in the meantime, the Rambler is going to enter into grandmotherhood..."with all that that entails." Marvelous birthday-present news that took me completely, but COMPLETELY, by surprise.

And in the meantime, the Rambler is now the sole occupant of Tether's End (barring Nefertiti the Wonder Cat). And THAT is all unimaginably new: from here on, NOTHING goes into that fridge that isn't in the Personal Meal Plan. It's a little hard to grasp that I probably won't ever have to buy twenty pounds of ANYTHING, ever again -- no matter how alluring the price! Also new: the sense that nothing, NOTHING in this abode has to be where it is, if I don't want it there. Startling, it is.

I'll come back later to do the Friday Five. But on the schedule now is some personal clenn-up (and "spackling"), some shopping, some bureaucracy, in the meantime contemplating a recipe for non-alcoholic-punch-for-250. My HOS, Fabrector, is getting married a week tomorrow. And I am in charge of PUNCH...this is an area of cookery where neither Julia Child nor Emma Rombauer has been any help at all, but I think I have found a recipe, and now I just have to think about container-for-transport: jam kettle, perhaps.

I also have to give some thought to roasting a turkey, preparing a Giant Pan (or two) of Delectable Stuffing, concocting a Hugeous Leafy Salad...and confecting an 8-cup Tomato Aspic (with shrimp). Others are providing the Brussels sprouts, the sweet potatoes, the pies (and more turkeys and stuffing and mashed spuds etc). Because next weekend is not only WEDDING, but Canadian THANKSGIVING (we like to get these things tidied away early, you see).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meet Mary Brown...

Marking, perhaps, I hope, I hope, a new stage in the ongoing battle with TIME.
Way way back, oh, ten years, maybe, a very savvy senior laywoman (with whom I served on a volunteer board) gave me advice about the creative and caring use of the daytimer, daily planner, write-on calendar, whatever YOU use to keep track of appointments and so forth.
I knew all about the 2/3 rule: “Don’t fill your schedule more than 2/3 full, you have to allow for the unforeseen that will come plucking at the hem of your garments while you are on your way to do something else.”
But my friend Phyllis taught me something else. “You take that daytimer,” she said, “and you look ahead a week or so to the first day when nothing is scheduled, and you draw diagonal pencil strokes all across it. Then at the top you write ‘Mary Brown.’ And Mary Brown is YOU. That is YOUR day. And don’t you dare encroach upon it when you’re getting calls and requests and invitations and so forth. And if anybody looks over your shoulder, and says ‘But what about Thursday?’ you can just say, ‘Oh no, that day is completely booked for Mary Brown, see?’”
Well, the Rambler knows good advice when she hears it, but she usually has to ADMIRE it for a while before putting it into effect. So yesterday was the first of what I hope will be a long happy series of Mary Brown Days.
The weekend was a full one. Exhilarating, and happy, and gratifying. But FULL. So it was good to take Monday as a day to follow my own behests, at my own pace.
What did I do? Well. I did everything in twenty-minute bursts, carrying my little twist-timer around with me. Everything, that is, INCLUDING looking at the computer (that’s part of the secret).
After her morning prayers, Mary Brown likes a high-protein breakfast – bacon’n’eggs, yup. Contemplated the ‘heel’ of my last pound of bacon and decided the two thin slices would be breakfast, the thick off-kilter last piece would go into spaghetti carbonara one night this week. So THAT is all accounted for, no waste.
Then Mary got all the laundry done, all but a set of sheets and pillow-cases that will need some extended soaking. Mary fetched indoors the super-giant empty vinyl paint-bucket (from last summer’s house-painting job) and has commenced scouring it clean for service as a washtub/soaking tub. Laundry all finished, another twenty minutes accounted for all the ironing.
Mary likes a nice tidy restful looking bedroom too, with no books and/or magazines among the sheets; that took another couple of twenty-minute blitzes.
We answered the e-mails that had been hanging out there. We responded to our phone messages. We went to the bank. We went to the dry cleaner. We went to the bakery outlet and bought ten loaves assorted, and scored on our frequent-buyer card.
Then we got all tidy and decently dressed and went to the university women’s club first dinner meeting of the season, and caught up with old friends and met some nice new ones. Watched a fascinating presentation on late 19th century, early 20th century, Tea Gowns from the University Collection. Worth and Poiret, oh my, oh my.
We came home at half-time; Mary doesn’t do late nights. So we wrapped up the day with a mug of tea and a little reading: the first lecture in Jaroslav Pelikan’s The Vindication of Tradition.
Mary is dropping by again on Friday. Stay tuned.