Isolation diary day 13

Well, we have passed the half way point in the four weeks. (It is only day 13 because we weren’t really isolated on Day 1; consequently I started the count on the second day.) It has been quite a busy day. As usual, we went for a walk after breakfast. Our route, however, was a new development. We walked up our street to Wattle Park, then headed first east, then traced a big arc back the other way almost up to Riversdale Road. Continuing south, we came out at the golf course club house, where we used to go for coffee before the current unpleasantness. I found the hilliness of this new route tiring; possibly I was still feeling the effect of having done a walk and a workout yesterday. It was a good time to be about, though. It was cool, only about 16 degrees, and pretty quiet. We saw a neighbour on our way home, who waved theatrically at us from the far side of the road.

When we got home, my beloved went back to work, preparing for a virtual staff meeting at 11.00. I had a bit more breakfast, then, as silently as possible, mixed up a batch of bread dough, and put on a load of washing. The bread was necessary because Woolies hadn’t been able to supply the loaf I requested in our last online shop. This is a minor drawback with the process. If the store that fulfils your order doesn’t have a particular line in stock, they just don’t supply it, and give you a refund. But it isn’t possible to nominate a second option in case your first choice is unavailable. You never know what they’ll have, however,  so if you order two types of bread you might get both. Why not just freeze one? I do this quite a lot, but at present the freezer is pretty chockers, already containing a gluten-free loaf for my beloved, batches of rice, chickpeas, pasta, meat, and so on. 

Anyway, I was well placed to knock up a loaf at home, having flour (both wheat and spelt) from a previous shop, and yeast, salt, and sugar in the cupboard. The recipe I have taken to using is for an oatmeal no-knead variety, which is easy and reliable. You can find it here; do give it a go! The recipe as it stands makes two loaves. If you don’t want to make this much, just adjust the quantities. But I reckon if you’re going to go to the trouble, you might as well get two loaves out of it. (Ease back on the salt, though. The recipe calls for a tablespoon, which is far too much. Just use 1 or 1.5 teaspoons, for one or two loaves respectively. And I put the yeast up to 2.5 teaspoons for two loaves.)

Apart from these tweaks, I make the recipe as it stands, but I use a roughly 20 cm square tin with a removable base. After the loaf cools down, I just cut it in half to make two rectangular loaves, slice both, and freeze one. This time I used a mixture of wholemeal wheat flour and white and wholemeal spelt, mostly because I had bits of the last two hanging around. I have also used chia seeds instead of half a cup of the oats; sunflower seeds would probably work well too. As you can see, this recipe is very forgiving. 

(Speaking of baking, I was puzzled to read about a lady complaining that she had plain flour, but wanted self-raising. She wanted someone to swap the latter for the former. Had she not heard of baking powder? You don’t even really need a sifter; just stir the baking powder into the plain flour with a fork.)

I had a minor contretemps yesterday when I thought of the poem, and was looking for my notebook in which to jot it down. It was nowhere to be seen — the notebook, that is — although some might think I was referring to the poem. My beloved sensibly observed that the notebook must be in our place somewhere. Am I the only person I know who can lose something after a fortnight in isolation?

I found another notebook, of course, but the experience was quite irritating. At various times I need to make notes for poems, bits of the memoir, things that I am told by various medicos, and general stuff. I have tried splitting a big notebook up into sections with sticky tabs, but it is hard to predict how many pages to set aside for each section. Using several notebooks is just a nuisance. Different stuff ends up all over the place, and is impossible to keep track of. And, particularly for poetry,  I need to capture what thoughts come my way before they evaporate!

What works best for me in these literary endeavours is a Japanese system called a Traveler’s Passport Notebook. (That’s how they spell it). This is basically a leather binder with an elastic strap that goes around it. This binder is about passport size, as the name suggests, so it readily fits in a jacket pocket, or the outside pocket in a backpack. The binder can hold five or six bound A6 size blank books, each on its special rubber band-type thing. Consequently the books sit nicely next to each other. (If you prefer, they can go one inside another, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do this.) There is also a piece of heavy thread sewn into the binder that you can use as a bookmark. The Traveler’s people also make a pen holder which clips onto the binder, which I have — no more hunting for a pen. With my trusty vintage Dymo labeller, which I found in the local op shop, I have made labels for each of the books. Genius! Now I can readily make notes, keep them all in the one place, but separate all the different materials. (This of course assumes I can find the thing.)

When I got my hands on it — it was in a jacket pocket — I wanted to be able to find it the next time I lost it. So I ordered a few more bits and pieces for it, including a transparent zipped pocket. Thank goodness for the internet! I plan to put a Tile device inside this pocket. This is a little bit of electronics that works via Bluetooth, and is intended to help you locate your keys, phone, and so on. (I don’t tend to lose those things, but I have misplaced this notebook before.) This may sound a tad both OCD and OTT. However, I find losing things monstrously irritating. My memory is so bad, I almost never remember where I left something. Anyway, all these schemes keep me off the streets, so to speak, and I’m doing my bit for the economy! A win-win! 


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