After hours

1735/25th February 2021

Something strange happened to me last night. Or to be precise, I did something strange. After 4pm.

4pm is my cut-off time. After that I will not perform anything that I consider a “chore”. And anything I don’t like doing qualifies as a chore.

But at 1630, I was in the kitchen, “making a cake”.

What did it have to do with the moon? Probably nothing, but Grant is sensitive to the full moon and yesterday he declared himself “off”, so “poorly” that he could only face eating cake and custard.

He’s always asking about the cake and custard so I decided, “right, you’re going to get it!”

Never mind that it was past the witching hour and cake-making is most definitely a chore. So I sped through it as fast as I could.

Which no doubt did not improve the outcome. But I had a couple of challenges. The first being how to operate the oven. I had shown Grant how to do it, so how come suddenly I couldn’t cope? There were a lot of beeps as I pressed different buttons and finally I found the right combination.

Ingredients? Eggs, butter, flour. Sugar…not so much, but I scrounged around and found some brown sugar. Now what were the amounts?

See, my mother never measured anything. She would say “a handful of this, a pinch of that, a few of those…” that kind of thing.

What I don’t have is an electric mixer of any kind. Just a whisk.

So I bashed the eggs around and for some reason decided the sugar went next. Mum, I know you’re rolling your eyes. Then I remembered the stick of butter, cold and solid. I was supposed to soften it up and fold the sugar into it and then add the eggs.

Well I didn’t, so I cut the butter into thin slices and bashed them around in the sugar-egg mix, using the whisk. When my shoulder and wrist protested, I continued for a short while and declared it would have to do and folded in the flour. Folded! I stirred it all up trying to get the lumps of butter blended.

“Oh well, it’ll be a Carolyn cake”, no one expects much.

Cake in the oven…how long for…no idea. When a knife comes out clean, it’ll be done.

We have Bird’s custard powder. I grew up with the stuff and I know how you’re supposed to do it. Mix the powder and sugar in a bowl with a little milk. Boil the rest of the milk, tip some into the mix, transfer back to the saucepan, stir till cooked. Way too much trouble.

Micros were made for this. Except. Milk boils over. I got the blasted bowl out at 3 minutes, stirred it up and shoved it back in. I’d thought of using a huge bowl but decided I’d just keep an eye on it.

Something I’m not capable of. So, the custard erupted like a volcano, flowing over the edges where it sticks like glue all around the outside of the bowl and everything else.

At which point I was reminded by my feline friends that their supper-time had passed, by all of five minutes. Then they got discombobulated because Grant usually does the “dishing up” and I do the distribution.

They were sure I’d messed up their orders, trading bowls, etc etc.

Just as I got the cats fed, the custard sorted out and the “cake” out of the oven, the patient struggled up his stairs, clutched the custard, dropping a lump of “cake” into it and scoffed the lot. Then returned to bed.

He loved the custard. Even if it boils over, what’s left is good. At least in the micro it can’t burn, which is nasty.

And swamped in custard, the cake wasn’t horrible, I guess. The piece that’s left looks more like shortbread. I daresay it will get eaten, though not by me.

Grant returned to bed leaving me to enjoy my gourmet meal (don’t ask), after which it was time for Willow’s med. The routine has become that I wave the syringe at her and she trots into the spare room and onto the table where she accepts medicine and a treat.

But I had to go looking for her and she was obsessing by the electrical cupboard by the front door. I get a bit anxious when she gets obsessive because of her neurological issue. But she came to take her med and I continued my pre-bedtime routine.

When I decided to retire with my book Willow was back at the cupboard, but she seemed fine, so I left her to it. Cats do what they do. Several of ours talk to a ghost in the “engine room”.

Last night was one of tossing and turning, finding no comfortable position and finally falling asleep as dawn breaks which is when the cats get stroppy with one another, chasing and screaming, followed by the daily hairball regurgitation.

After hours in bed, Grant was up early, fortunately, as his phone began to ring, one of those really annoying loud, rowdy tunes.

So I abandoned the thought of snoozing and we launched into morning mode. “By the way”, I said “Willow was obsessing by the electrical cupboard last night.”

But this morning her obsession had moved to behind one of the boxes. Grant got on the floor and announced that it was a mouse.

There was a time when I would not have been comfortable having a mouse under my feet, but the only discomfort I felt was that one of the cats was almost bound to catch the poor thing and dispatch it.

Which Lily did, five minutes later. Gentle, sweet Lily is the best mouser. I don’t really want mice in the house but I feel bad for them.

Why do they come into houses full of cats? In Auburn I had even more cats and there were lots of mice there. I had one die inside my car engine once. It was seriously nasty!

Our white landscape persists, but patches of green begin to show.

It’s a glorious day!

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