Daily Prompt: Picky Tongues – My taste buds strike

You have to choose one flavour that your sense of taste will no longer be able to distinguish. Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, spicy (not a taste per se, but we’re generous): which one do you choose to lose?

Herb mixture

Here we have a choice of fresh herbs from my garden: see how many you can identify. None, or all – it does not matter, but throw them in the food and you discover a world of flavours. Now I am asked which flavour would I like to lose and the answer is none. This is easy to explain. I am now 67 years old and the body does not improve with age. It is not like a bottle of good wine that develops, mellows and is more valuable. It resembles a piece of fruit or cheese that you leave untouched out of the fridge for a few days/weeks. We do not actually grow green at the edges or start showing signs of decay, but changes happen in the exterior appearance. Your hair might develop another colour. I call it salt and pepper, although gradually the salt is taking over.

Hairs begin to grow all over the place, places you never thought it would possible for a hair to grow. Your smooth immaculate skin might be marked by a blemish or a spot. In your younger days you might have used make-up to enhance the good looks, now nature does its best to destroy them.

One of the problems is the sense of taste, my sense of taste. The buds that detect the saltiness, sweetness, and the spice of food slowly give up. They have been there and done it all and decide if it does not taste as it used to, then add some more. Mr. Swiss often accuses me of cooking hospital food. The meat and vegetable are fine, but no taste. I have to add more salt to convince him that we are not living in a hospital ward. For my still functioning taste buds, I now present him a dish which resembles something cooked in sea water. One day I will not notice this because I would have caught up with Mr. Swiss in years, although he will still be ahead. I will probably then cook everything twice, one for him and one for me.

Why lose a sense of taste when it disappears on its own eventually. Some years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes. No big deal, one of the punishments we pay for our sweet and sticky life, not to mention the nice white bread and pastry dreams. The doc said cut down on the sugar and carbohydrate. As I wanted to avoid being on the needle I did what he said. I began to drink diet Coke, avoided the sweet things in life being an obedient diabetic. I soon had my levels under control and it was a different way of life. I have noticed that over the years I am now very sensitive to sugar. I bake a fruit flan and Mr. Swiss sprinkles more sugar over his portion. If I prepare berries, I put them in a bowl, sprinkle them with sugar and leave them for an hour or so to develop their own syrup. Served with cream they are a very good desert. What does Mr. Swiss do? Yes, he sprinkles more sugar on them, as they are not sweet enough. This proves to me that I have lost my taste for sweet and sugary, it is sweet enough for me. I no longer need so much as I have been reducing it for many years.

On the other hand, I love spicy food and there Mr. Swiss finds I overdo it sometimes with the chilli: not exactly standing under the tap for water to heal the burns in the mouth, but it is probably his Swiss genes that are a problem. Switzerland is a milk, cheese and cream producing country and the spice of life is a cheese fondue.

So I do not have to choose a flavour to lose, they choose themselves. Another reason why I probably will not receive my so longed for WordPress t-shirt this week.

Further in the story of my lumbago: interesting development. Yesterday I was walking around like a hunchback of Notre Dame Lookalike and Mr. Swiss found it was time for me to go to the doc. It was Sunday, no doc, but this morning I phoned and explained my symptoms. She was of the same opinion as me, lumbago. She found either send Mr. Swiss to pick up the tablets or come along for an injection. This morning I was not even able to go along for my computer so I decided an excursion to the doc would not be advisable. Sitting and standing had become something impossible. I crawled to the kitchen, let out a small scream as I sat at the table for my breakfast, and spent five minutes working out how to stand again after breakfast was finished. I retired to my bed and remained more or less all morning.

Mr. Swiss visited the doc for me and arrived with a whole barrage of tablets. The first was to protect the stomach lining being dissolved from the other tablets: take one in the morning. The second tablet was a normal pain killer, coupled with codeine and the third was cocaine the real McCoy to stop the lumbago pain. I took one each, one after the other. In the meanwhile I dragged myself through the apartment with the vacuum cleaner and cooked lunch. Bear in mind I had not had a shower up to this point. I was still trying to work out how to climb in the shower and survive well enough to climb out again. After dinner I fell onto the bed (at the moment it is not otherwise possible to hit the sheets, I just let myself go) and slept for at least  ninety minutes. I made an attempt to rise and almost shed a few tears: there was no strong pain and I could stand up without resembling a bewildered beetle turned onto its back. I immediately visited the bathroom for a shower, while my joints were working.

Things can only get better. I am not yet 100% but on the way. Mr. Swiss emphasised that I should take it easy. He was especially annoyed that I planted a new garden bed on Saturday, but I just wanted to get the job done. I suppose sometimes he really has a point. Both of us are now arriving at the “Darby and Joan” age, where now and again we need the support of the other, but we are two independent golden oldies, and when he has back ache I am in charge and when I have back ache, he takes over. When we both have back ache, we leave it to chance, or the cats.

I am now looking forward to my desert of two tablets after tea. Just what the doctor ordered. See you on the flip side tomorrow, even if I have to crawl to the computer (now that’s worth a WordPress t-shirt – true devotion).

Daily Prompt: Picky Tongues – My Taste Buds Strike

The Sphynx

I was sitting in the garden, enjoying the nice weather, surrounding by two felines, one licking its fur and the other having a cat sleep, meaning really wide awake, but with eyes closed. Suddenly there was action. Both went to alert status, red alarm, and were sitting and staring. They were still both looking in the same direction, so I had a look as well. What did I see? That is a good question as I was not sure. I thought it was a statue, something like one of those Egyptian tomb ornaments. I had another look and it moved – a moving statue. My cats were still frozen, wondering what it was and then I realised what it was. One of our neighbours must have a new cat, but not just a cat, one of those big eared, dark eyed, furless cats, commonly known as Sphynx.

I was without my camera and knew that if I stood up the cat would be gone. The cat disappeared in any case, seeing two cats with fur was probably too much for it. I am still solving the problem what a hairless cat, belonging to a very expensive breed was doing roaming free in the area. It disappeared in the direction of another apartment block, so I came to the conclusion that it had a home somewhere. I was surprised that such a cat was taking a stroll, especially as it is not good for these cats to be exposed to the sun, they can get a serious sunburn, having no real fur, just fine hairs.

I called Mr. Swiss and he thought we were be attacked from some sort of extra terrestial monster, but I explain it was a Spynx cat. I added I always wanted one of them, but they are difficult to have, and you have to give them a bath at least once a week as they tend to smell after a while, not having enough fur to soak up the sweat, although they are covered by very fine hairs. Mr. Swiss found that would not come into the question. Having two “normal” cats is enough of a problem.

So now I have made you all curious to know what it was I saw, but you are lucky. The visitor appeared again a few days later and this time my camera was ready to shoot, although I had to use the close-up lens as I did not want to frighten it. Here it is, the best I could do as it disappeared afterwards.

Sphynx cat

If you saw something like this taking a walk in your garden, what would you think?

Daily Prompt: By the dots – what dots?

We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!

Birds on a line

The dots on the line are birds, not full stops or colons, birds do not even apply commas. They were perched on a wire and watched as I was working in the office. I do not have a relationship with punctuation; it chose to have a relationship with me.

It all began at school, when they told me what a full stop was. I thought it meant stop running or talking, but no, it meant do not write without making a pause. Even my full stops were not good enough; I do not talk with pauses, why should I write with a pause? The teacher said use a comma to be able to take a breath in between. It seems otherwise my sentences would be suffocating, so just to oblige and keep the teacher happy I threw a few commas in.

I was never a genius with punctuation at school, and so my essays and grammatical works were usually decorated with red signs, such as commas, capital letters and full stops, marked by the teacher. Now and again there would even be a broad red line striking a few many words and followed with a question mark. That was when I met the question mark. Teachers seemed to have a thing with a question mark. Did they not understand English, did they not grasp the genial hidden meanings behind my words? No wonder that my talents were not even recognised at school.

Somewhere along the line I am sure I was explained the meaning of a semicolon and colon, although I do not remember. One day something entered my life that I will never forget: a praise to Bill Gates and his Windows programme. Each time I wrote a sentence there would be something underlined in red. I found this very polite, as if he was asking me if I mind. My teachers just crossed through with an angry thick red line, but Bill Gates was gently underlining in red, and not even making a thick red border line, no – the line was wiggly, as if to say “do you mind”. I even found blue lines now and again, was this a test? Just a double click on the word and if you are lucky, Word actually understands your line of reasoning, you find the corrected version in most cases. The cases where it is not supplied is “anyone can join in” meaning cross your fingers and hope that no-one who actually understands punctuation in the English language is reading this and decides to tell you how it should be done.

I do not have punctuation quirks, I could not care less: If I can read it and understand it, that is OK. Did you notice I used a colon in the last sentence? That was not my natural talent, my high level intelligence, that was Bill Gates in Word telling me to use one, otherwise there would have been a permanent green line under the last part of the sentence. I can live without colons and semi-colons, but Bill Gates and Word cannot, so anything to oblige.

Basically we all write English here, although there are few and far between blogs written in another language. Me, being bilingual, trilingual, quadrolingual and even speaking fluent cockney, this is no problem. Oh, he did it again quadrolingual underlined in red. No problem, a double click asks me if I want to ignore this word. Of course it will not be ignored, it is my word, I invented it and if Bill Gates and Word have not yet realised this is part of the English vocabulary, it is their problem.

Where was I? Ah yes, the Germans have a thing with punctuation. They not only decree that all nouns must be written with a capital letter, but they have rules telling you where to put commas. No, there is no free choice; you have to put the comma where the comma should be. There is a comma before beginning a clause in a sentence. You cannot just write, but there is a special sequence when asking and answering questions, and descriptions. I am not giving details, because even for me it is not easy, and I am not here to tell you “how to speak German in one easy Blog”. Germans are organised in their language and even little kids learn it. I have a Mr. Swiss if I have a problem. One of the advantages in speaking swiss German is that to my English ears, they tend to swallow the endings of the words, and endings are important in German, so I swallow them as well, and no-one notices that I am constantly making mistakes.

Another great advantage is that there is no actual official written Swiss German. Write what you hear (but with a German intonation). It has even developed into a sort of secret language in Facebook as the Swiss write in Swiss German which not even a fully-fledged German really understands.

To sum it all up, the Germans live by punctuation, the English also live by their punctuation, and Mrs. Angloswiss just hopes that everyone understands what she is talking about.

Daily Prompt: By the Dots – What Dots?

Writing 101, Day Twenty: the things we treasure

For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most-prized possession. If you’re up for a twist, go long — experiment with longform and push yourself to write more than usual.

I do not have a most-prized possession, and if I did I do not think I would blog about it. In my 67 years I have collected many prized possessions on the way, some inherited from the grandparents, perhaps something from the parents, and sometimes I have picked up something.

I will now take you back to the year 1964, the year I left school. It was also the year when I visited the USSR, not Russia, but the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The man in charge of the union was President Brezhnev who had followed Kruschev, but at the time I was 18 years old, so politics were not my thing. I was taking part on a Baltic Sea Cruise on a ship with various school classes as passengers, visiting Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Leningrad, USSR. Of course Leningrad was something completely different: a communist country in the real sense of the word, everyone equal, everyone doing what the state told you to do and our main enemy in the world. We were opening the iron curtain, just a little, to peak behind the scenes. You think that interested a bunch of teenagers? Not in the least. We were interested in seeing how the others live.

Before arriving in the country we had time to learn a few things on the ship. There were three Russian ladies on board and we could attend meetings now and again and ask questions. We were asking all sorts of things.

“Do you have capital punishment?” was one question I remember and the lady answered truthfully and said “Yes”.  Who were we to judge, Great Britain still had it, being abolished a year later I believe. We asked further “do you hang them” thinking that the british way of life was the best. “No, we shoot them”. At the time I was perhaps thinking typical Russia, but these were the thoughts of a simple teenager shocked by the newspaper reports of things going on behind the iron curtain. Stalin was not so far away, I remember him.

Next question “what can we buy in Russia?” We all had our currency allowance of roubles in our purses and could not wait to bring a few souvenirs home. During the conversation it seemed that music instruments were only a few roubles and the balalaika was high on the list.

The day arrived and we disembarked for our visit to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). We even travelled by normal public bus to bring us to the large shops. Imagine, about twenty shool girls, all in uniform of course, heading for the music instrument department of the big store. There was only one store, everything being controlled by father state, so there was no big choice. We were 20 in our school group, but the ship was full of school groups and they were all headed for the same place. When we arrived chaos was supreme. The girls and boys grabbed every balalaika they could put their hands on. We were at the back of the bunch (queue was not a word applicable) and the more expensive insturments were left. My eyes set on a mandoline. It was really a cut above the rest. Nicely worked in wood, really impressive but it was eight roubles instead of the average 3-4 for a balaika. I made my decision and grabbed it, asked the price, paid and it was mine.

I would add at this point that the sales ladies were completely swamped with the attack from the European scholars. We had emptied the shop, there was absolutely no music instrument left. They were looking in astonishment and some were speechless. I would have been speechless as well if my stock of music instruments had been sold within a few minutes.

We left the shop, each of us a balalaika or mandonline under the arm and made our way to the bus stop. Russian busses always seemed to be crowded, but a passenger plus a balaika meant there was even less room. Having valuable goods in our dormatory on the ship was a little risky and we were told to give all such items to the purser’s office. When I arrived at the office with my mandoline, I was told “Sorry, we cannot accept any more instruments look”. I looked and saw that from the floor to the ceiling there was no more space. There was a mountain of music instruments where there used to be an office.

Eventually we arrived home in England after our holiday and I showed my mandoline to mum and dad. Mum and dad not being very musical found that it was a nice instrument and “look, there is even a label inside in that funny Russian writing”.

My mandoline had arrived on its journey from St. Petersburg to London and was more or less forgotten. Many years later I arrived in Switzerland, married and brought my mandoline from London. Mr. Swiss was fascinated by this mandoline. He played drums, but played in a jazz group and knew his way with instruments, having contact with other musicians. He also could not play the mandoline. They have double strings, and over the years of course they deteriorated. Through a colleague he bought a new set of steel strings and restrung it. My mandoline was now worthy to be played.

I still have it, it holds a proud position in our living room waiting for a Russian maestro to take it in his hands and with tears in his eyes, play one of the old Russian songs.

P1070727

Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things we treasure – The Mandoline

Daily Prompt: Writing Space – no problem

Where do you produce your best writing — at your desk, on your phone, at a noisy café? Tell us how the environment affects your creativity.

Welschenrohr

A genius does not need inspiration from a place. The creativity is there, it exists, places are secondary. Of course I am relating to my own talents. It is a fact that Nobel and Pulitzer have not yet recognised this quality, but all the more to look forward to.

My best writing, and only writing, is on the keyboard of the computer. In summer I favour the great outdoors, hearing the birds singing, the faint noise of the traffic on the neighbouring country road, and the neighbours talking on their balconies. At the moment there is a meeting of young men discussing the prospects of the evening World Cup match on the top balcony. There might be the faint sound of a jazz quartet originating in the apartment, although Mr. Swiss tends to wear his iPhone ear thingies to avoid disturbance when I am writing a masterpiece.

I have a feline nearby that now and again meows telling me he wants something. This can be a disturbance, as I have to leave my writing centre and attend to his needs. Of course, I am surrounded by the wonderful Swiss mountain scenery which sets the mood for a daily prompt.

In Winter I am confined to the apartment and I seek a quiet place to register my thoughts on the blog. Where I am depends on what is happening around me. It might be that there is a disturbance caused by a vacuum cleaner, radio, television or general household background music. Luckily I have a portable working station and electricity in every room, so I am a movable blogger, occupying a suitable place to register my thoughts.

I have more problems with sorting the routine. I do not have time for blogging in the morning. There are other jobs to be done. During breakfast, when I tend to cover my keyboard with milk stains from the cereal, I check what happened through the night. Whilst I am sleeping my blogging colleagues in other time zones are putting their thoughts to the computer and writing their contributions. I also receive e-mails. Yes, there are people that communicate with me, mostly Facebook notifications and WordPress messages to tell me someone has written on your wall. After cleaning the apartment, removing the traces of the evening before, I enter the bathroom, to remove the remains of breakfast from my teeth and other such routine jobs.

I am now ready to go and I go shopping. There has been no time for blogging and when I return from the hunt in the supermarket it is time to cook. I am now exhausted and after a cup of tea and some chocolate I retire for a golden oldie midday sleep.

Now the creative work begins, but today with a difference. My garden needed some attention. Despite my painful back this week, I was stupid enough to clear a bed of lilly of the valley. It begun with two or three plants, they began growing with no warning. I found them very pretty and after a year they had doubled in number. This was some years ago, and I realised they were slowly but surely taking over, doubling annually. I am sure they were becoming competition for a Triffid (book: Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, where they were rivalling the human species and wanted to take over the world). OK, I uprooted them and only a few stalks remained. I then realised that before planting something new, the hedge had to be trimmed. I did this in a few spare moments this morning, whilst Mr. Swiss was on a safari in the local shops. Now the scene was set, and before putting my prize suspicious blog into action I transplanted a sage plant which was overgrowing its allotted space, and two pots of Gallardia filling the now empty space.

To ensure success, I applied water from the hose. Unfortunately this slipped out of my hand and I had my second shower of the day. I also managed to drench one of the sun beds and it was then Mr. Swiss asked “What happened” as my exclamations of surprise were bordering on profanities. Now the job was done, I washed my hands, tidied the mess up (with the assistance from Mr. Swiss who found when I have backache I should not do this sort of work) and I am now sitting outside on the porch typing these words of wisdom.

Who needs a café, a phone or a desk? I am surrounded by nature and I have my iPhone nearby if there would be an emergency.

I will now read this super blog entry, for the rare case that I might make some typing errors, and upload it into the cyberworld of WordPress. Relax and take it easy on your week-end and if you are bored then join in with me wherever you are and blog.

Daily Prompt: Writing space – no problem

Daily Prompt: Flavour #32 – Eat it at your own risk

A local ice cream parlor invites you to create a new wacky flavor. It needs to channel the very essence of your personality. What’s in it?

Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant through train window

Yesterday I got a body part vending machine and today they are creating an ice cream flavour to suit my personality. Oh, the delights of a WordPress Daily Prompt. I am sure that when the end of the week-end arrives, I will be designing my own t-shirt, size XXL with the WordPress icon.

Now to the ice-cream flavour: this will be something new and explosive, I am sure. The photo is a photo-shopped version of our local nuclear power plant in Gösgen taking from the train window as I was passing by. This is an iconic monument, known to all in the area. If you are lucky enough to live in the village, there is a permanent cloud day and night and it might be that the sun is not visible now and again, but it is still there. The people living in the area look just like you and me. Up to now no two headed specimens have been found with twelve fingers on each hand and foot. It seems that radioactivity is not so bad, and the authorities assure us that it is not dangerous. It is only steam that you see escaping through the mega chimney. Oh, the pleasures of nuclear power.

The flavours surrounding my perfect personality vary, they are not predictable and are according to my mood.

My ice cream flavour could be dynamic, with a hint of something not definable, according to the time of day and mood. Sometimes it could be very sweet, dripping with syrupy flavours. That is when I am in a good mood and my Pulitzer prize and WordPress t-shirt are appearing on the horizon. Everything is fine, the Daily Prompt is to my taste, and so the flavour of the ice cream will respond accordingly.

There are moments when the ice cream flavour could be called “explosive”. This is generally when I do not know what to write, inspiration fails me and my cooked 5-star menu at lunch time did not arrive on the table in its usual perfect quality. Perhaps the meat was burnt, too much salt in the vegetables and worst case scenery, the pasta was overcooked, each string of spaghetti sticking to its neighbour. I would not recommend to buy an ice cream from the local ice cream parlour with the flavour “Angloswiss cream dreams” on such a day.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention it, the patented name of this ice cream variety will, of course, be named after I, me and myself. On a day when I am busy hovering rooms, cleaning windows, and general stress, the flavour would perhaps have a hint, just a hint, of lemon juice, a sharp warning tang to only buy a mini version. The deluxe size could become a little overpowering and towards the end of the day, very bitter.

Today is a good day to select an ice cream. The flavour is quite balanced and you will survive. It is one of those relaxed summer days outside on the porch, although I can hear the famer with his tractor in the distance. Perhaps it would be better to avoid my flavour of the day, it might have a slight taste of gas when it slips down your throat.

It also arrives with various fruit flavours. Red is not always red and sometimes it might contain belladonna. They are my bad days, when I have not slept very well and have a yearn to kill someone or something. Perhaps one of my fantastic blogs has been turned down (again?) by the Nobel prize committee. There is no justice in this world. I would choose a vanilla day. It is my favourite flavour  and is calming to the taste buds, but beware if a slight spot of red is in the middle. It might be a bad day, and the red spot will expand and conquer the complete ice cream.

Oh, come one, just forget it. Buying an Anglo Swiss Cream Dream might not be such a good idea.  I have an unpredictable character and so is my ice cream flavour. See you at the mortuary on the flip side, and do not forget, tomorrow you can buy two for the price of one. We are having a garage sale of ice cream.

Daily Prompt: Flavour #32 – Eat it at your own risk

Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin – I am not rocking at the moment

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

Of course it is too silly to post about. Who is interested in the fact that I have been immovable for the past three days and now I am told not to stop rocking. I have not been able to rock this week, I was happy to have a painless night sleeping. It all begins in the morning when I leave my bed. I need five minutes to be able to put myself in a horizontal position.

Let us begin at the beginning. It was a normal Daily Prompt writing afternoon. I was sitting comfortably at my computer keyboard typing words of wisdom, Pulitzer Prize suspicious and decided to have a break and fetch a glass of something to drink. I arose from my chair and then I noticed I had a problem. I was stuck half way up and half way down. My back had decided to have an argument with itself. The top half said “rise” and the bottom half said “stay”, this all combined with a feeling that someone had passed an electric current between those small bones that form the back. I decided to breathe regularly – my lungs were not affected – and was gradually standing, not without difficulty. I took a step towards the kitchen, still needing a glass of water and realised that these steps were not exactly similar to that guy that said “take up thy bed and walk”. It all sounds so easy in a book.

Slowly but surely my brain clicked “you have lumbago”. OK, no problem, not the first time and probably not the last. I decided to keep it to myself, no point in alarming everyone. Everyone has lumbago now and again. It was when I dropped something on the floor and bent my troubled body to pick it up. My arms were hovering about 10 centimeters above the floor and my body said “no further”, so I obeyed my body and called Mr. Swiss for assistance.

“Something wrong?”

“Have a touch of lumbago.”

“Oh, I know how that is, although I have mostly sciatica”

So now you know why I wanted to keep this condition to myself. No matter what you have, you begin to feel sorry for the others that have more that you have. Even a little touch of lumbago is nothing compared to others.

Casting a look at my WordPress automatic new post space, I realise that my 400 words are exceeded. I could have written 800 words about my lumbago, but we do not want to overdo it. I am now on the third day of lumbago, according to statistics have a day to go. Oh the problems of a golden oldie.

Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin – I am not rocking at the moment