Island Blog – Woman

I’m thinking about her today. I am one, after all. A woman I mean. As Dennis rages like a husband outside my door, threatening to uplift the new conservatory, I turn in to my thoughts. After a Dennis sort of morning I put on music – my sanity these days. Have you heard Disturbed sing The Sound of Silence, or Elbow’s Fickle Flame or Lily Allen sing Somewhere Only We Know by Keane? I research music a lot and am helped considerably by my youngest, equally in love with music. Lyrics, musicality and beat can lift any soul from a dark place. I recommend it if the dark surrounds you this day, or any other day.

I add something super dull to the shopping list, holding said list in place with a heart shaped stone as if Dennis might get in somehow and snatch it. Actually, he is welcome to it. I get dead bored of shopping lists, of washing clothes on the right setting, of wiping down tables, of mopping spills I never spilled. It seems to me that women are always on the move and it is just as well or most of the world would just sit down and wait for a sandwich. Not only do we end up on the sandwich rota but we are required to pop here and collect that on a regular basis. Then there are screaming children to squeeze into clothes they don’t want to wear ending in a fraught drive to school. There’s a flaming mother-in-law to appease and toilets to clean; there are beds to make, rooms to tidy, gardens to tease back into life; phone calls to answer, batteries to replace, dogs to feed and supper to be planned, bought and prepared. I am sure there are modern women who fold their arms, say something colourful and then go out for Prosecco with the girls but I don’t meet too many of those. From girlhood we are conditioned. I see it with my own little grand-girls, the unconscious teaching by their mums, the learning they absorb through example. I want to throw fireworks at it all, but (and there’s always one of those) I cannot see how the family would survive if women stopped being IT. That indomitable spirit is in each one of us. How else would we survive? Although life does dump on us, despite the fairytale wedding and all those impossible promises, we find an inner strength we never knew we had. It seems we can take pretty much everything on the chin and still keep our sense of fun and fight.

A man once said, a man I admire to the skies, that he had no idea how we women kept so full of life. Observing the very obvious attitude of the world, that of demoting women at every opportunity, plus the lie that they believe in equality, this man made his own mind up. God bless him. We need more of him. He can see our spirit and he loves it. Loves it! it doesn’t frighten him at all, which is, of course, what it does to men in general. Strong women remind them of their mothers and they really don’t want that image in their minds.

This fighting spirit is powerful and dangerous. Powerful when guided right and dangerous when left to turn into low-boil anger. I have learned the difference between the two, often. I know when my angry puts down roots and applies itself to the whole garden, and it needs uprooting. Power is quite different, something precious to be nurtured and loved and admired. It is a part of every woman. Although young girls learn submission and polite behaviour in order to survive the early years, that spirit is still alive inside them and it will out, trust me. And it scares even them, the first time; the time they see injustice, feel it, are hurt or attacked. It will rise like a hot dragon breathing fire, one who needs teaching. Not now Dragon. Yes, now Dragon. That sort of teaching. We learn this as we form into the women we will become and it is a good thing. I have met women whose dragon controlled them and their life was not a happy one.

However it is good to just know the dragon is there, to feel her power and strength and to know she will always be there for you, and for me.

Island Blog 144 Cake Wrecks

 

cake-disasters (20)_thumb

 

Okay so I fell out with my almost new mixer.  To be completely honest, it was mutual dislike at first sight.  You see, before this alien arrived in the tanned arms of Dennis the Delivery Boy, who left boyhood a wee whiley back, only nobody wanted to upset him by saying so, I had an old Magimix.  It had worked for the dangerous granny for years, even had a customised red gingham skirty drape made to pretty it up on the kitchen counter, and, for the life of me, I cannot think why I moved it on at all.  It was still working fine when I did, which makes it even more dreadful.  I generally never move things on at all.  They fall apart right here on my patch and are flung in the bucket, unless there are some attractive parts that might serve as bird scarers or dingle dangles for my mobile collection. On the rare occasions I have moved something on, it would have been something I no longer, nor ever would again, need – such as 8 inch platform PVC boots or tooth whitener (way too late), or perhaps a box for buttons marked Buttons which I never unwrapped, being an olympian button owner and requiring a school trunk at the very least for my supply.

This mixer and I growled at each other a lot.  I even resented the fat smug way it’s oversized bottom took up way more room than it needed forcing me to squash up my vitamin collection, spice and herb racks and the butter dish which now doesn’t stay in line at all, jutting out like a naughty dinghy in a race line up. Every time I walked past this disorder I felt cross.  I did try to make peace, at first, but the flaming bowl would never assemble without making a HUGE fuss and resisting any connecting with the launch pad.  ‘The motor will not work unless the bowl is fitted correctly.’  I know this.  I know this a LOT!  Finally we make some sense and the damn thing is correctly fitted and I am moderate to fair backing gale force 8 but, nonetheless, we are running and although very little is moving beyond the slicing blade, I am confident we will become friends one day, or, at the least, unhappy colleagues.

At least ten times, during what was a quick whizz in dangerous granny’s magimix, I must twist off the lid and free up the glued on cake mix from the sides.  Ten times I fit the bowl incorrectly, twist on the lid, turn the knob into a long silence (all the way up to 6), turn it back, twist off the lid and fit the bowl….well, let’s say eventually I get it right.  By the time I have added the eggs, and flour and gone through the whole gluey infuriating process again I have gone right off baking.  As the cake rises (probably in a temper) in the oven I wash up 37 pieces of a mixer I loathe with all my heart and re-connect it with its large bottom, cussing like an old fishwife.

After a reasonable cooling off period I try again.  Cake tins are empty throughout the land and folks are beginning to revolt.  Well, himself is, anyway.  I begin.  Nothing has changed.  This mixer has no shame.  Half way through the dreadful process the motor dies.  No correct fitting tactics work.  I am apre eggs and pre flour.  In other words, a sloppy curdled mess.  I make a decision.  Tipping and scraping out the yellow goo into a big bowl I march the offending mixer out to the wheelie bin and throw it in with all my strength.  I then march back to collect all the attachments, the dough hook, the meringue beater, the juice extractor, the julienne, if you don’t mind, plus all other disks and the instruction pamphlet in 17 languages, none of them English, and throw them in too.  Feels fantastic.

My next attempt at cake making, is ably assisted by my lovely neigbour who lends me his super duper Kenwood.  It purrs along, sounding quite in control and not minding much about being fitted incorrectly at all.  I turn the speed up just a tad, turn my back and turn it back again mighty quick at the flash, the crash and the smoke pouring from the motor casing.  Not only have I blown up my lovely neighbour’s super duper Kenwood, but I am, once again, half way through a cake.  I will have to make amends for this expensive disaster I know, at some point, but, for now, I must carry on regardless and not give up, however tempting that may sound.   I select a large glass bowl, pour in the mix,  grab my wooden spoon, flex my muscles (I kind of remember where they used to be) and begin to beat.  It’s flipping hard work, by the way and to think our grannies had no choice!  After one bout of fast battering, the bowl falls neatly in half, the falling half landing squarely on my bare toes and spewing floury contents all across the kitchen carpet. (Never go for kitchen carpet.  It’s got to be lino every time).

Now this is me – undaunted by such ghastlies.  I scoop the carpet-flavoured cake mix into a plastic bowl this time, adding the rest and beat on, quite admiring the red flecks of carpet and inspired to add cherries and almond essence for the hell of it.  It can hardly rise, this unfortunate.  It doesn’t, well, it does for a while, then sinks like it’s worn out putting on a face.  They said it tasted weird, but none was left over at the end.

My lovely neighbour was most understanding, albeit sad to think of a cake-less future.  I, for one am happy my cake-baking days are over, for I will not beat by hand again, and nor will I spend a fortune on a load of futuristic rubbish that makes a huge stooshie out of everything it does, or doesn’t do, and then dies when it feels like it which is just after you’ve thrown away the packaging and receipt.

Oh Granny (that’s my granny, not the dangerous one), how I wish I had never ‘moved on’ your lovely wedding gift of a Kenwood Chef with it’s clundering attachments, big sturdy bowl and great attitude!

Does anyone have it?