Monday, December 01, 2014

The best-made plans.... can sometimes be improved upon!

During November I took part in NaNoWriMo. Along with one of my sons and the daughter of a local friend, I succeeded in writing 50,000 words as the first draft of a novel. I did it a couple of years ago too and nothing ever came of it, but it was an interesting exercise - and quite time-consuming towards the end, when, inevitably, I fell behind on word count for a while.

November 30th was Advent Sunday, so I thought I might do as I did last year and allocate one 'task' per day in Christmas preparation. Possibly even two per day for the first two weeks of the month, since the rest of the family will be arriving on December 16th. I jotted down a list this morning: order presents, make mincemeat, write newsletter, post cards, decorate the tree, buy a poinsettia... that kind of thing. Perfectly manageable if I just plan to do one per day, starting now. The only thing I've done so far is to make our Christmas cake: I'm not one of those people who has Christmas sorted by the end of October.

Looking at the list, I thought that making mincemeat would be a simple, relaxing (and quick) job for today. I mentally checked the ingredients off in my mind.. then I realised I had no suet. Oh well, I thought, I'll pop around the corner later this morning and buy some at the local supermarket.

I was about to get out the feather duster and vacuum cleaner to start my usual Monday-morning blitz of the main floor of the house when I remembered... tomorrow morning, a workman is coming to repair some bubbled plaster in the ceiling and also by the stairs, where it got damp (about four years ago, if I recall correctly. We're really not very good at getting things done quickly). Any kind of cleaning right before plaster is being removed seemed like a pointless exercise.

So, the planned cleaning was abandoned, or at least postponed.

Then Richard said that perhaps we should start moving furniture out of the living room. That triggered some decisions we had been pondering for a while. We had talked about buying a futon or similar to go in what was Tim's bedroom. But we couldn't find anything appropriate. I pointed out that we had a perfectly good sofa bed in my study (I think it's only been used on three occasions since we moved here, as we have a separate guest flat downstairs, but it's good to have it just in case). I proposed moving it upstairs and putting one of our two-seat sofas in its place. Richard has been wanting a three-seat sofa and the only way we could fit one in our living room is to get rid of - or move - one of the two-seat sofas.

So we started to move the sofa bed. We got as far as the living room, but it's pretty heavy. No way could I move it up the stairs.

However, moving one of the two-seat sofas into my study was easy enough, and looked much better than the sofa-bed ever did. Joan of Arc approved: 

The problem was that now I had nowhere for the boxes of Lego that were tidily housed underneath the sofa bed. So we moved some other boxes in a study closet to Tim's old room, and the Lego then fit in the closet in the study. 

We moved the other sofa into our dining room, then started moving the (digital) piano. But that was really too heavy for me, too: 

So then Richard moved the television into the dining room, and I took a photo showing the sofa at the far end, the piano half-way, and the TV unit denuded of the TV: 

We did all this gradually, in between other things, and a friend came soon afterwards to help move the piano and the sofa-bed.  

When we were eating lunch, it felt as if we were in a second-hand furniture store that wasn't very well-organised...

After lunch we went into town to the furniture shop where we bought the two-seat sofas, nearly ten years ago. None of the furniture on display looked like the kind we wanted, but when we explained to a helpful assistant what we were looking for, he knew at once what we were describing, and found 'our' style of sofa in an ancient catalogue. They are made locally, he said, and we could certainly have a three-seater, in a covering of our choice. The price was even better than we had expected. 

We couldn't find the same material - since I had taken a photo earlier I could even show him what our sofas look like and he said he remembered the material, but it was no longer available. However, there was another one which was similar, which we liked, and when Richard asked about having one of the sofas re-covered (the cats pretty much destroyed the back of one of them) he gave us a good quote.

So we should have a three-seater sofa delivered in about a week. 

Just as I was thinking that the Christmas day-by-day tasks weren't even going to get started, we walked past a shop with some healthy looking poinsettias outside, at about half the price we would expect to pay elsewhere. 

So we bought one. 

I then remembered that they are supposed to be toxic to cats, and Alex is into everything.. but, happily, Snopes confirmed that poinsettias are fine. Just as well since Alex was indeed very interested: 

Next I decided to go to our local Micro supermarket to buy some veggie suet, and perhaps make mincemeat tomorrow.

There was no suet in the shop. 

Then I received a text from Tim, saying that as we had both completed NaNoWriMo, he would like to treat me - and perhaps Richard too - for ice cream. And when he heard that I was hunting, in vain, for suet, he said he was about to go to Metro supermarket and would get me some there. 

Half an hour later, Tim arrived with some suet.. and we went out, not just for ordinary ice cream, but for Haagen Dazs. Tim and Richard are dairy-free and Tim's extensive research into alternatives has led him to conclude that this company makes the best raspberry sorbet he has ever tried.  

I opted for the wonderful strawberry cheesecake... although I had a couple of tastes of the raspberry sorbet, too, and it was very good indeed. 

To sum up the day: 
  • Plans:  cleaning, making mincemeat
  • Actuality: moving furniture, ordering a new sofa, buying a poinsettia, eating Haagen Dazs ice cream
I'm not really into spontaneity, but it seems to me that the actuality was a vast improvement on the former...and since we now have a poinsettia, I've even done my first step towards Christmas. 

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