Effort: noun. Strenuous exertion: display of power: something accomplished involving concentration or special activity.
Frequently on rainy, frosty mornings snuggled warmly in bed under my feather doona I forestall rising. I have to exert an excessive effort to extract myself from its warm embrace. There are times this weakness of mine – this affliction – has been known to linger through the months of spring, autumn, and even, sometimes, in summer, depending just how comfortable I am on any given morning. (I don't mean I remain in bed through spring, summer and autumn)!
However, on most mornings I’m an early riser, or at least an early waker-upperer.
However, on most mornings I’m an early riser, or at least an early waker-upperer.
Sometimes I leap out of bed (not literally) giving the birds a run or flight for their feathers. Other times I forestall my act of the “leaping”. If I’m feeling particularly snug and comfortable - as was the case this morning - I purposely will drag my leap of faith out a little longer. This morning I woke shortly after 5, but I was feeling far too cosy to disturb myself, or Remy, my male cat who was snuggled up close to me. Remy was in no hurry to greet the day, either; neither was Shama.
Rarely am I still in bed after 7 am. However, whatever time I do rise is up to me. I am the boss of my morning rituals. I have no one to answer to other than me, and, of course, my two furry rascals, Remy and Shama.
In my opinion, upon rising in the morning, and for a period thereafter, is a time for quietness; a time to ready one’s self, mind and body for the day ahead…peacefully, without hectic goings on, fuss, bother, ado and conversation… or it should be.
One of the joys of living alone, unnecessary conversation does not have to be made; unless, of course, I’m talking to myself – which I admit I often do. Naturally, because it comes naturally, I’m always talking to Remy and Shama and vice versa! They are very chatty catties.
“F” is also for “Fun”…and I’ve been having a lot of fun over the past few weeks. I always do have fun in November…kicking off with the Melbourne Cup Carnival….and then, being a Scorpio, I’m a November-born Scorpio, I have fun, fun, fun on my birthday...fun enjoyed my way...stealing the words from Ole' Blue Eyes himself and the man who wrote them, Paul Anka.
My birthday was last Friday, 11th November; Remy and Shama’s birthday was on 4th November; and today, 18th November is a friend of mine’s birthday.
She’s my best friend up here on the hill. We spent three or so hours together at her home yesterday morning in celebration. I’d made a date, banana, cranberry, ginger and walnut loaf for us to enjoy with our coffees, conversation and laughter. I gave her some dark chocolate-coated ginger…and she gave me some dark chocolate-coated ginger. We laughed over our similar gifts.
She also gave me a bar of locally-made coconut-vanilla soap. I emailed her this morning to let her know I was munching on the delicious coconut-vanilla bar she'd given me!
The strangest gift she’s ever received, I think, are the two salmon fillets I also gave her yesterday.
For months I’ve been suggesting my friend should pay a visit to our local “Fisho” when he sets up his van at the local “servo” each Wednesday and Thursday. He sells salmon that comes from Marlborough Sounds which is situated at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. It is the best salmon I’ve ever tasted.
On my way to my friend’s home yesterday I stopped off to buy some salmon fillets for myself, and while there figured she probably had never heeded my sage advice, so I bought two extra fillets for her to share with her husband over dinner last night.
Being my friend and understanding my foolish frivolity, she enjoyed her gift of fillets (it was the first time anyone had ever given her salmon fillets as a birthday gift) – and she even enjoyed them more last night when she cooked them for dinner. I received a phone call around 8 pm last night to inform me I had been right all along about said fillets!
As suspected, she’d not followed my sage advice…but I’m sure she will now, and she, too, will become a customer of Jonathan, our “Local Fisho”.
Last night’s dinner will not be the last time she and her husband have Marlborough Sound’s delicious salmon fillets!
“F” is for “Effort” - I sometimes find it to be an effort to hold my tongue. I flounder, but the majority of times I manage to succeed in grasping it tightly, forcing the words to remain unsaid.
There have been times I’ve failed to bite my tongue (the discomfort became excruciating; I just had to give up), and have failed to foreclose its flourish of phrases when in the presence of some folk. There are some people who make it very difficult for one to bite one’s own tongue.
In my favour, most times I force myself to grin and bear it – waiting to explode in private! It is at such times when once more I’m alone I cease all efforts of restraint. Within my own four walls and within my own company I have been known to verbalise what I had wanted to say when in the company of someone who has given me good reason to forcefully hold my tongue…if you know what I mean!
Often I do experience moments when it’s an effort to keep a straight face!
Usually having to effect such effort happens at the most inappropriate times and places – and that makes it more difficult not to break out in laughter. I’m glad I learned long ago how to keep myself, to a degree, under control! (A *cough* is allowed here)
What is a “straight face”?
Faces are made up of protuberances, curves and slopes!
By the time we “keep our tongue in our cheek”; “keep our chin (or chins) up”; try not to “lose face” or “keep a stiff upper lip”, one’s face would certainly be very animated and active!
A massive effort would be required to keep it “straight”!
Fostering and forging friendships should never be an effort, nor should it be an effort to be pleasant. However, as mentioned above there are some who make it hard for one to be forever felicitous!
We’ve all fidgeted and feigned attention as we’ve wrestled to listen to never-ending laborious speakers. Those times we’ve found ourselves furiously fighting our feral eyelids in faltering attempts to fend off falling asleep! Those efforts, fervently directed at keeping said eyelids open are usually fruitlessly feeble! The well-meaning/self-indulgent emissions of the orator are wasted upon our otherwise occupied feverish, fitful selves!
Christmas is fast approaching! A few amongst us shall be in a flap when confronted with those other “F-words”- “family” and “food”.
If forced to become a fellow- participant in such a frazzled family festivity/fiasco,(which, fortunately, I won’t be) - attempt to forage all efforts to keep a lid on festering feelings of angst created by past fracture-causing misconceptions or fetishes, whether they be one’s own fault or the fault of others (mostly it’s “the fault of others” - they’re the ones fraught with foibles who are failures at making an “effort”)!
Don’t fret! No need to fabricate - there’re many favourable “F-words” - like “fun” and “frolic”, for instance!
Have your fill of both! It’s neither folly nor fallacy!
Fennel Seed Dip: Beat 1/2tsp fennel seeds and 1c softened cream cheese together; add 1c sour cream; blend in 1/4c minced onion, salt, pepper and 1tsp paprika; cover; chill.
Feta-Avocado-Chickpea Salad: Dice 2 avocados; combine with 1 can rinsed, drained chickpeas, 1/3c chopped parsley, 1/3c diagonally-sliced shallots, 1 small red onion, sliced thinly or diced, 1/3c feta cheese, juice of 1 lime and walnuts/pecans. Season to taste.
Fresh Beetroot & Feta Salad: Cook 4 medium beetroot over med-heat until easily pierced through with skewer…around 45mins. (Add a dash of vinegar to the water). When cooked and cool enough to handle, remove the beetroot skin; chop beets into cubes. Chop 60-70g Feta into cubes; combine along with 2tbs roughly chopped parsley. Make lemon vinaigrette – whisk together 3tbs lemon juice, 3tbs x-olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Toss beets, feta, parsley, spinach leaves and walnuts with the dressing; serve.
Falafel Burgers: Put 1/4c fine dry breadcrumbs in dish; set aside. Process 450g can rinsed, drained chickpeas, 1/2c chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves and 1tsp cumin until coarsely ground; add 2tbls plain flour and 1/4c chopped parsley. Shape mixture into 4 patties: brush with milk; coat in breadcrumbs. In nonstick pan, cook patties in hot oil over med-heat, 8-10mins or until lightly browned. To serve; Cut pita breads in half horizontally; fill halves with patties, cucumber and tomato slices; drizzle with Ranch dressing.
Feta-Prawn Linguine: In pan, heat 2tbls olive oil over med-heat. Add 500g prawns, 5 minced garlic cloves, 2tbls chopped shallots, 1/2c red capsicum strips, cracked black pepper, pinch of dried chilli and 1tbl dry white wine; cook 5mins; remove prawns; set aside. Cook 2 chopped tomatoes with 1tsp oregano and 2tsp torn fresh basil in wine mixture for 10mins. Cook 450g linguine until al dente; drain; toss hot pasta with prawns and sauce; add 180g crumbled feta.
Farmhouse Honey Fruit Cake: Cream 175g butter, 175g honey and zest of 1 lemon until light and fluffy; gradually add 3 lightly-beaten eggs; fold in 2c wholemeal flour, 2tsp baking powder and 1tsp mixed spice. Stir in 300g mixed fruit, 50g chopped dried apricots and 25g ground almonds. Pour into greased, lined 20cm cake pan; make slight hollow in centre; arrange blanched almonds around edge; bake in preheated 160C oven 2-2.5hrs; cool in pan 10mins before turning out.
Fine & Dandy Cocktail: Over ice, shake 1 dash Bitters, ½ nip Triple Sec, juice of ¼ lemon and 1.5 nips gin or vodka; strain into cocktail glass; decor