Thursday, 7 April 2011

Musing; and, canisters; and, the small things.

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Generally, I do not think of this as a personal blog. It's not supposed to be my daily diary. You know that I love to get my teeth into the ishoos, as Mr Anthony Wedgewood Benn likes to call them. It is absolutely imperative that you know what I think about the sovereign debt crisis or the use of unparliamentary language or whether Michelle Bachman with actually run for president.

This is the fantasy that exists in my mind. Actually, I can't remember the last time I wrote about any of those things. They hum away in my mind, but by the time I have finished my work and my brain goes phhtt, I am beyond parsing them. At the moment, it's only when something gets me very, very exercised indeed, like Mr Willetts and Ms Odone the other day on the matter of feminism, that I rush toward the big subjects.

At the moment, it seems that I cannot do much more than write my book. So, the blog has morphed, insensibly, into the cabinet of small things. It is a tale of soup and dogs and the first signs of spring. There is a part of me that thinks I should regret this. But there is a part of me that exults in it. I love the small things. The older I get, the smaller I want everything to be. Of course I still love nothing more than a great ideological argument. I still put my armour on and go into battle against moral relativism. My relentless fascination with the baffling machinations of the American political system still obtains. (So much bigger and stranger and more dramatic than ours.)

Yet it seems that age brings a new perspective: I see now that there is importance in the making of a soup. I am only half joking. I think it is to do with the Buddhist idea of being present. If one decides that only the big things have any meaning, then the danger is that one is absent for half one's life.

I like that I get hysterically excited when the ornamental Japanese cherry comes into flower, or when I see a particularly fetching piece of lichen, or when I hear the oystercatchers calling lovingly to each other, as they did all this morning. I like that I can gaze and gaze at my little vase of blood red carnations and feel as fortunate as if it were a vase full of Faberge eggs.

Today, my small thing involved canisters. (Go with it.) My kitchen cupboards are not things of order and beauty. Packets are terrible messy articles; they spill and sag and will not close properly. Someone more domestic than I suggested that I decant, as the organised people do. You know: buy containers and put the rice and the flour and the sugar in them. At first, I resisted this. I am damn well not going to morph into Martha Stewart at this stage in my life. Also, the usual canister is a horrid plastic thing, of no aesthetic value.

Then, the thin end of the wedge was inserted. I found some lovely white china storage jars, and into those went the pearl barley and the buckwheat and the oatmeal of Alford. (Very special Scottish oatmeal place pronounced 'Aff-ud'.) The problem is they are rather bulky and expensive and would not quite do the whole job. I almost lost heart. Bloody decanting. Then, yesterday, I found some lovely chic glass jars for TWO POUNDS EACH. Stifling my subterranean fear that the low price meant they were made in Beijing by Chinese children using their teeth, I ordered two, and they arrived this morning.

They are heaven. Into them went nuts and popping corn. I was so pleased that I took photographs. I went into decanting frenzy. Dog treats had also been delivered, in their ugly blue plastic packing. I was so excited that I tore them open and threw them into a nice glass vase. They look so pretty there I am going to keep all my dog treats in vases from now on.

Oh dear. Perhaps I have taken the small thing thing too far. Perhaps I should have written about the Portuguese bailout instead. European debt versus dog treats in vases. It's a very, very difficult choice.

Quick pictures of the thrilling decanting event:

7th April 9

7th April 8

Do admit.

And more usual photographs, of nature and stuff:

7th April 1

7th April 7

7th April 2


7th April 6

7th April 4

7th April 5

Even though everything is taking on a spring-like aspect, and buds are budding and tight green leaves are unfurling, most of the trees are still stark and bare:

7th April 3

But, in my little garden there is this:

7th April 11

7th April 11-1

7th April 12

7th April 13

7th April 15

And there is the great, high beauty of these:

7th April 10

7th April 16

And the dear old hill:

7th April 14

Can't quite believe I spoke to you today of canisters. I can only ask you to forgive.


  1. It's important to ponder the big things, but I believe it's even more important to cherish and appreciate the little things. Yes, even canisters - it's amazing how a little organization can impact your life. Not unlike having the beauty of a hill right outside your door. So I at least don't mind the talk about the little things. But if you can figure out how to fix our government here in the US (you know, the one that's literally going to shut down tomorrow), I sure would appreciate it.

  2. I decant things into old 1 litre yoghurt tubs (yes I eat yoghurt in industrial quantities). Nowhere near as pretty.

    Will the dogs not get at the treats if they're in an open vase? My friend's dog once ate a fruit cake that was wrapped in foil in a tin on the top shelf of a closed cupboard...

  3. Decant away - it looks lovely. Admittedly now skim reading some of 'Backwards' (as you call it) and will go back and savour the detail - but who did buy the Picasso litho?!! Lou x

  4. Mary - so glad you too appreciate the small things. As for your government: what are they all DOING? Does no one learn from the lessons of history? Gingrich shutting down gov practically handed Clinton re-election. Is that curious Mr Boehner being held HOSTAGE by the Tea Party?

    Cal - the cake thing is making me laugh and laugh and laugh.

    Lou - oh, oh, the lithograph was ME. I did really go out for a cup of coffee and came back with a Picasso. Paid for it on the never never, and do not regret it for a single second, although it was probably one of the naughtiest things I ever did.

  5. How wonderful the dogs; how warm and fresh your spring feels; but most of all, oh how I yearn for some of those canisters.

    Pray tell, where.... so cheap?

  6. I love the tree trunks leaning towards the water. Nice lichen, too.


  7. Your small things are really the biggest, more important issues; everybody else has it wrong!

    By the way, the picture from yesterday of the Pigeon (?) bathed in that ethereal glow is incredible. Thank you for sharing.


  8. I have been reading this over and over again, and now of course I have to go and tidy MY cupboards. I am going to do it properly and work out what I need before randomly buying jars.

    Not sure where you purchased your lovely jars but this website is great

    Picture envy has also meant that I have downloaded Hipstamatic onto my phone and have been walking around the house practicing, instead of getting on with my work

  9. I know it's hysterical isn't it. I wouldn't have believed it possible but this friend is unlikely to lie about such things. And the dog is a greedy lab.


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