I’ve got guests coming, persons unknown. What does one do? Make a cake. OK, corny but true. I start to get out pastry and cake making things. I’m SO glad that the extremely cold weather has ended as I was really anxious how I was going to keep them tolerably warm - especially as they are Americans - no, I shouldn’t think things like that - where was I? - oh, yes, but I’m dismayed that it has turned to rain as that means I shall not be able to show them round the grounds, which is half the point of their visit. We shall be a bit confined to the house - and the house is not much - rather primitive in fact - I glance upwards as these thoughts pass though my brain between recitations of nembutsu and espy cobwebs seemingly all over the ceiling. Oh dear me! Can’t have a kitchen full of cobwebs if we are going to be stuck in here much of the day. I get the “feather duster” - it is not really feather, more a sort of woolly synthetic stuff, but it works. I make a few passes along the overhead beams. Pretty effective, Good. And along the chimney breast. DISASTER! A fine hazy of lime dust descends.
In an instant everything in one half of the kitchen is coated with what looks like powered sugar. So much for cake making. Now I am thrown into a huge clean up job - cooker, pots of wooden spoons, ladles (each one separately decorated in white), bottles of cooking oil (!!) - I have to wash the lot and all the surfaces too. Fast work. Be systematic. Namo Amida Bu. As I kneel down to do the lowest area - OW!!! screaming objection from my gammy knee. Rest for a minute. Meanwhile the cat has got shut in the washroom and is mewing pitifully. Take it easy. Namo Amida Bu. An hour later the kitchen once again looks presentable - better than before, in fact. Now where was I with cake making?
For some insane reason known only to the gods, I've decided to make a bakewell tart. I have never made such a thing before and am not an experienced cakemaker, but so what? I start to assemble components. Actually I do not have exactly the right ingredients in any of the particulars. Oh well, never mind. In cooking it is surely more a matter of applying the right principles - isn’t it? Pastry - fortunately one can buy premade pastry in French supermarkets - a godsend! Unfortunately I only have puff pastry in the frig - I’ve never seen a bakewell tart made with puff pastry, but here goes. I do have jam - lots of it, thanks to a series of summer and autumn visitors who have been industrious in the kitchen processing the heaps of berries. I think kindly of Elja, Modgala, Adam, Jnanamti and others who have shared the kitchen at various times. Cake - again I do have some cake mix - a present from my daughter, bless her. It is madeira - can you make bakewell tart with madeira? Don’t know. Shall find out. Less than an hour later it is in the oven. Then I have the thought that they might be vegans and not eat it.
Another big kitchen tidy and wash up job follows. Now, I must prepare some beds for the guests. Two of them. Will they share a room? or not? I don’t know. Why didn’t I ask. Too late. Anyway, at the moment one cannot get to the guest room as there is a heap of stuff in the way as I am in the middle of relaying the flooring in the upstairs room, so better start with moving all that. Then I remember - perish the thought - the upstairs lighting is not working because… well, I haven’t a clue actually, why not, and my electrician friend - usually SUCH a help - is currently away on a romantic adventure, so there is not going to be much help from that quarter in the next hour or so. I’m calculating that since they have something like a three and a half hour drive they will not be here before noon. What time is it? 10.30 ! Better get the pie out of the oven - Mmm.. doesn't look that bad.
OK, upstairs again. Namo Amida Bu. Move a mattress of two and the odd armchair and put everything into moderately orderly heaps. Now bedding. So many people have had so many systems for storing bedding here that it is not a simply matter finding things that “go”. Well, I have found what I believe to be adequate, but it might need a bit of adjustment when they arrive. Along the way bits of cleaning get done, though with the cat in her “When I’m out I want to be in, and when I’m in I want to be out, routine,” while rain continues to fall, all horizontal surfaces are no sooner clean than once again sweetly decorated with little brown paw marks.
It’s eleven thirty - time for a coffee. I’m tempted to start on the tart, just to see if it is edible, of course. But I’ll be good. Tara comes in and wants to sit on my lap. She is not usually a lap cat, but suddenly, today, she is a little bundle of affection for a while, until she decides that fighting might be more fun.
Midday. It is starting to get cooler and the rain is heavier. I light fires in the kitchen and middle room. The middle room fire is a bit temperamental. I don’t light it very often, but from time to time it helps to keep the house aired and when guests are coming it seems like a good time.
Two o’clock. Three o’clock. Four o’clock. No visitors. Did they decide not to come? Are they lost? I check my e-mail. No message. I send a message. Maybe I got the wrong idea. Maybe they are coming tomorrow. You know how your mind works in this situation. Namo Amida Bu.
In the meantime I have got some more work done upstairs. Bit by bit the job is coming on. Tara has worn herself out chasing an artificial mouse that is one of her favourite toys and is now asleep on top of a heap of bedding in the guest room. I hope they are not allergic to cats.
Well, evening came and still no guests and no message. Never mind. Tomorrow is another day. It was probably all my fault. Mixed messages make a life. Namo Amida Bu.
Thank you for this Dharmavidya!!!...I feel so reflected...As you say "we are all in the same boat".
I hope you can have a rest today
Namo Amida Bu
Glad that you had a good time with Conrad and Sara. I hope they are well. There is a lot to be said for cooking and cleaning - "Such unpretentious work all foolish seems and dull, yet those who practise thus this law continually shall in all worlds be called Lord of Lords unto eternity" - Jewel Mirror Samadhi. Unpretentious work is good practice. If you go to Welland you will not be so far from Prajnatara in London, ON. Also, of course, you will be able to look after all the people that get turned back at the US border.
This evening I had a homemade soup with rather nice bread and bleu d'Auvergne cheese, plus sliced boiled egg, followed by a wonderfully tasty ripe French pear.