It's a gorgeous day here. Bright sunshine, blue sky with no clouds in sight, and dare I say it, almost warm.
Of course, I can't get outside to enjoy it - I'm sitting at the desk, looking out, my plaster casted leg propped up on a bag stuffed full of clothes due to go to Oxfam, the next time I'm fit enough to pass by.
Howard is out in the garden, hanging out the laundry, tending to the hens, and planting my Spring bulbs. As I usually do all the planting and sowing, I wrote him out step by step instructions for flower bulbs, alliums and overwintering broad beans and peas. This included information on the potting compost mixes for each. Now, I'm not one for precision, but Howard, being a graphic designer, is used to working in millimetres. So three parts compost to one part grit or Perlite to me means for every three scoops of compost, add some grit. If it doesn't feel right, add a bit more of what's lacking. Howard measures things EXACTLY. Mind you, I should have known. When we started at the first allotment, ten years back, he used a ruler to space the seed potatoes. And the completion of the pruning of the Southernwood along the front path will wait until I am fit to do it myself - without a ruler.
I can't complain really. He's had to everything around the house since I've been laid up, rather than just his usual tasks. Every morning before leaving for work, he's made me a packed lunch plus healthy snacks to keep me going through the day. Until buying a spare electric kettle late last week, he was also making a couple of flasks of just boiled water so I could have tea throughout the day.
As I'm relatively immobile, I'm not expending the usual amount of energy. Therefore, I don't need the usual ration of carbs. But if you're bored, frustrated and being punished with daytime TV, what lifts your spirit? Cake. Or biscuits. It's a struggle to get downstairs to the larder, and I need both arms to brace myself when I drag myself back up the stairs, so I have to make sure my ration for the day is eked out.
This has meant a re-think of my diet, concentrating on lean protein, vitamin rich fruit & veg, plus good sources of calcium. So lots of fish, chicken, vegetables (especially brassicas) and good quality cheese. Any bread we eat is the best quality - sourdough, rye or sodabread.
It has been enjoyable sitting down together and planning what we both will eat. We try to put thought into what we eat anyway, but having to adapt meals for someone who needs to build up strength without adding extra calories has meant we cannot fall back on traditional simple comfort foods. That said, as a reward for so much hard work, I ordered a pizza on Friday so Howard didn't need to cook. I ravenously knocked back my share and had heartburn till the morning. Lesson learned.
Howard is a good cook, though he does prefer the reassurance of instructions. I have no complaints about the catering. Last Sunday he made a Spanish style casserole of chicken, tomatoes and butterbeans. He managed to stretch it to make two lunches by setting aside the chicken thighs and pureeing the rest of the dish to make a soup and a salad. Last night we had a panfried fillet of Mackerel, with a warm salad of bacon, fennel & carrot. The rest of the carrots and fennel, along with some onions, leeks and celery, will be finely chopped and turned into a soup to last us for a couple of lunches. The first day it will be finely chopped veg in a broth with pearl barley, the second day it will go through the blender to make a thick soup.
Once we've had a successful new meal, I'm trying to write down the details and keep it on file, along with the written instructions for garden tasks. Howard is going to do the same for the various tasks I delegate to him, plus emergency info, such as the location of stopcocks in the house. So if both of us are indisposed, the poor creature who has to look after us will know what to do to keep the house ticking over.