Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Do you have typical days, when the pattern of the previous day is repeated almost identically, like wallpaper ? Can you remember all details of the pattern? Here's one of mine.

Got up about 10 am when the phone rang. I usually set the alarm clock for an optimistic 7:30 but since I rarely get to bed before 3 or 4 am, when it rings I switch it off, reasoning that I deserve another couple of hours. Mornings are something I would like to be better acquainted with and enjoy the benefits of more often. My mornings are blurry, foggy, indecisive. Decisions like: should I turn on the computer or have breakfast loom unresolved. Breakfast won today so I shuffled to the kitchen wearing pyjamas and red bathrobe - this is a very old mumsy robe which I must get rid of. Something jazzier and more morning-friendly is required, as long as it doesn't have a belt. I hate belted robes so don't get me one if you're thinking of it. 

Breakfast is two wholewheat mini-pitta (from Marks & Spencer) toasted in the toaster then spread with unsalted butter and a couple of slices of Emmental. An apple, a clementine, a cup of maté, no sugar or honey. While consuming this petit déjeuner I read yesterday's newspaper, the Independent. Because my morning brain is foggy, I read everything, even if I'm not interested. I have been known to read the advertisements for cars, which I have no interest in whatsoever. Droning in my blurry consciousness is a robot voice which sounds, I'm afraid, like Stephen Hawking, insisting that I should stop this robotic behaviour and Get On With The Day. 

Eventually I obey and shuffle to the bathroom. No, first I turn on the computer to check email and to find out if there are any comments here on the blog. Well, overnight somebody in another time zone might have commented, innit? Bugger, no new comments. Quick peek at my stats: not much traffic there either. Shit. But wait: the stats say I've had 699 visitors so far this month - 699 and October has just begun! That's more people than I've met in my entire life, probably. Okay maybe it's not 699 visitors but 699 visits. Even if it's only 300 people that's still more real people than I actually know. So what if they don't comment? They have visited this space and I should be gleeful. I am gleeful. I make a couple of administrative phone calls.Then I put some laundry in the washing machine. Then I go in the bathroom. 

Bathroom business takes quite a while. I need to stand in the shower for at least ten minutes even though that's terribly wasteful, ecologically speaking, because only hot water running down the back of my neck dispels the brain fog. I dress in my painting clothes, old striped purple top and blue no-Yoga Yoga trousers and then it's face-the-face time: in magnifying mirror on bedroom window-sill I examine my morning mug and adjust whatever can be adjusted, which is not much. A bit of concealer under the eyes, some plucking of stray hairs, lipstick. Now I'm ready for the day. It's about 2 pm.

I go upstairs to my studio and confront The Painting (DNA/Prism/Frames of Reference). I stand back and examine what still needs to be done. While I'm working I notice how much painting ressembles carpentry or construction in general. All about fitting this into that, balancing, assessing, eliminating, concealing, revealing. It's not glamorous or inspirational, it's just work - if some mystery or chemistry subsequently occurs between viewer and finished canvas, that's a bonus. I work until about 5 pm then go downstairs and make coffee, eat a couple of biscuits and a clementine. Quick look at email then back upstairs. More work on the painting until daylight starts to fade. Very annoyed that the days are getting shorter. Have to stop, the colours are wrong under electric light. The painting still needs more work, I'll do it tomorrow. It's about 7 pm.

I start preparing dinner, my only real meal of the day. I've got some organic beef and a lot of vegetables. I rarely eat beef but when I do, I like to make a hearty dish and tonight a casserole suits the approach of winter. I'm a good cook, if I say so myself, unschooled but creative within a limited range. Occasionally I'll follow a recipe but mostly I improvise, throwing together flavours I like. Turn the oven on to 200C and while it heats up, sauté the beef chunks in a bit of olive oil with a chopped red onion, garlic, chopped ginger, a red pepper. Add spices: cumin, coriander, thyme, black pepper, salt. A dash of red wine and stir on high heat until the meat is well-browned. The oven is ready so transfer the contents of the pan into a deep earthenware pot, add more red wine then pile in the rest of the chopped vegetables: carrots, new potatoes, parsnips, courgette, baby corn. Put the lid on the pot and bung the thing in the oven. It will take an hour and a half/two hours. Meanwhile I nibble a few black olives and drink cold coffee in a tall glass with ice cubes and a dash of port, the real Portuguese Port from Porto, a recent gift. I don't know if my mixture is a proper drink but it tastes good. 

Back to the computer to look at email again, write a few replies, browse some blogs, then begin writing this blog post. Around 9:30 pm the delicious smell says my dinner is ready. I add some quickly boiled fresh peas to the mix and ladle out a very generous helping of my casserole. It is exquisite, of course. Half a glass of red wine remains in the bottle so I drink it. A clementine is my dessert. End of food for today. Washing up can wait until morning. 

I come back to the Mac and move the August and September blog posts to my archive. It is now five past 1 am on October 13 and I think I will go to bed unless I decide to add a picture to this post and then maybe browse some blogs. 

This was my typical day that was. How typical was yours? 



Dominic Rivron said...

I find cold showers better for dispelling brain fog - perhaps not 10 minute ones, though.

Often thought about writing "a day" myself. Might do it.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Cold shower? Aaaargh! That would send me straight back to bed. Hot is good, cold bad.

Writing this was a revealing exercise. Makes me anxious to change the pattern.

Am curious to read yours, Dominic.

Dominic Rivron said...

I'm always on the lookout for brainfog-cures myself. I realised soon after I commented before, I should have said "one can always head off to the Heath, to the lido". I've never been in, but it looks like a cure for brain fog if ever I saw one, especially this time of year :)

I'll have a think about writing about a day...

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

In brain-foggy mornings I wouldn't have the energy to walk up to the Heath nor to the lido and certainly no desire to plunge into icy water - I'd rather keep the brain fog! You take the Heath, Dominic, I'll take the hot shower.

Rain Trueax said...

I pretty much am awake by 6am or before depending on the day. I read news first thing, have breakfast which is usually eggs, thin toast and coffee and then writing which doesn't always go well but it's the morning. I do check the livestock somewhere in there, sometimes go outside for yard work which right now means blowing oak leaves off driveway and grass. I am kind of flat right now and so the afternoon is reading a book and thinking haphazardly about dinner which might be chicken thighs tonight, cumin, pepper, garlic, onion and tomatilla sauce then later, after the chicken is tender, tortillas, rice or pasta depending on the mood, usually sheep cheese and currently baby carrots to nibble on. In the evening we generally watch a movie, a new netflix if it happens to be in, then maybe a little chatting with a friend on messenger if she happens to come online, but pretty early to bed as in before 10. I am also feeling the need to shake this all up though.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Rain,thanks for the report. Your day sounds a lot healthier, more active and outdoorsy than mine. Haven't been to bed before 1 or 2 am in years but keep meaning to try being an early riser.It would change my life-pattern entirely.