Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Arthur Dent

I don't understand...
Where's the tea?

It's been a very uneven few months and culminated in having to take a week off work and just rest.  Seriously doing nothing except wash up, feed the animals, watch a DVD and sleep.  And I feel so much better for it.  Well, I feel vaguely functional again and no longer a danger at work because my brain is once again back on board (hence the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference).

Which possibly means I'm learning - if the psoriasis on my hand flares up, I'm stressed and need to slow down/take time out.  Brain fog - I'm too tired and need to slow down/take time out.  Large gatherings - (more than six people for a few hours) are no longer viable.  Small gatherings - can do, but need to plan for that weekend to be devoted to rest, no chores at all, so I can recover.

The impact of CFS on my life and on Best Beloved's life is much wider and more long term than I was prepared for. There is continual adjustment and explanation, because the physical side is easier to see than the mental/emotional fatigue.  Learning to pace myself is probably the hardest aspect, because even confirmed introverts want to socialise occasionally, want to be able to do what used to be commonplace.


I started this a couple of months ago, got too tired to continue and it's languished.  Wotthehell, as Mehitabel said.  Press Publish.

Coty's Chypre

It may seem paradoxical, but as someone who loves the smell of dogs (including damp dogs - or in the case of Winston, sodden-because-he's-been-"helping"-with-the-watering), I also adore fragrance.   Scented candles, oil burners, incense, body lotion, hand cream, perfume, dusting powder, sachets or scented paper for drawers of clothing, bunches of lavender in the linen cupboard, fragrant plants, food, furniture wax, books....

I am by no means a Nose.  I don't have the ability to fine tune what I can smell.  But I am sensitive to smells and rather averse to the toxic aisle in the supermarket (AKA cleaning products).  And smell is important.  It is most of what we taste and is one of the best triggers of memory.

But perfume.  For me, it's an affordable luxury and something I rarely go without.  Guerlain remains my preference if I had to pick just one fragrance house, but I tend to prefer the older perfumes - Mitsuoko, Parure, Chamade, Vol de Nuit .... also some of the leathery colognes - Antaeus, Pour Monsieur. I like a bit of richness, but subtly, maybe a hint of sillage.  I wear it for myself, Best Beloved gets to enjoy it.

I buy fragrance oils from the health food shop, I buy current (plaguing friends who do go overseas to France, to buy me more Guerlain!), I buy vintage, looking through eBay for ones that have been discontinued, prepared to gamble on it being in reasonable condition.  Which is how I come to have Coty's Chypre - a small jar of pomade and a small bottle of eau de toilette.  And oh, how I love it!  There is a frisson of delight in smelling my wrists, in the softness that lingers all day and into evening.  I will be sad when the supply ends, but how I will have enjoyed the association.

Coty is interesting.  The company been around since 1904, it has some very high end labels (Balenciaga anyone?), but in Australia, certainly, it is mostly known for perfumes that you buy at the chemist, generally in gift packs for your nanna.  Which is rather sad, because they are consistent and reasonably priced, unlike so many of the celebrity perfumes which flood the shops.

There is a certain amount of snobbery in perfumes, vintage or otherwise, and far too many people try to save it for best, or as an investment.  Absolutely daft in my opinion.  Perfume is made to be worn, that is it's whole raison d'etre.  Once opened, it will age and change, regardless of how well you store it (cool and dark, if you don't already know, and tightly stoppered).  Your tastes change over time, your nose's acuity will change over time.  Wear it and enjoy it.  And plunge your nose into your dog's fur (or a cat's sun heated tummy), into the leather jacket, the pages of an old book, a handful of crushed mint or curry leaves.  Breathe deeply with your eyes closed, and enjoy.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


CFS throws interesting things into your life. Apart from really poor sleep patterns the last few months, another symptom that's popped up has been the moveable arthritis. That is, arthritic pain that comes and goes, whilst also moving from one part of the body to another.  It's been mild, but there were a couple of weeks I couldn't get my wedding rings on. And, oh woe, I could no longer whack the portafilter into position on Miss Silvia.

Now, for a serious coffee-head, who has had to reduce herself to one cup a day (and apparently I shouldn't be having that, but heck, life's too short and I don't have many vices), this amounts to a tragedy of epic proportions.  Silvia and Rocky, the grinders, both Rancilio machines, were my indulgences in our mortgage. Best Beloved got surround sound for the television.  A bit of play and a couple of ordinary cups, then fairly consistently good coffees. The hardest thing was getting the milk steamed correctly so that it was slightly sweetened and had a dense micro-foam. That was always a bit hit or miss, mostly if I got distracted.

I love making coffee with a fully manual machine. I love the whole routine, the almost ceremony, and it is an opportunity to reflect on luck. That we have coffee, the tools, the opportunities. To be grateful for the gift of coffee, for all the hard work and long planning that goes into producing the beans, and the process that takes them from the growers, through the roasters, and into my greedy little mitts.  Because it takes several years for the coffee tree (or shrub, depending on locale and variety) to grow, to be able to produce a harvestable crop. This on top of all the usual variables a farmer has to deal with - weather, sale prices, labour costs, ongoing maintenance, political unrest in some areas, and debts.

But dodgy, unpredictable wrists have put a stop to that.  Miss Silvia is now living with a friend in Victoria, who is over the moon, because she's just started a week of night shifts.  And I'm stalking possible replacements on eBay. They'll have to be a super-automatic.  I can make an okay cup just using a jug and fine tea strainer, but I miss my crema!