Good people, bad people, thank you

We handed the chocolates over the wall. Ferrero Rocher. Sixteen of them immaculately wrapped in gold foil and in a rather useful hard plastic casing. Suitable for vegetarians too.

Ferrero choccy
Ferrero choccy, wiki piccy

I claimed they were given to me some time after The Ankle, he claimed they were given to him for doing a neighbour a favour. Either way, we decided they’d be more appreciated by our Spanish neighbour so I’d finally remembered to retrieve them from the depths of the cupboard.

She was delighted and beamed her thanks as she took her dogs out for a walk. We saw her again a couple of hours later. ‘Roughseas,’ she called. Actually she called to Partner but he was chatting at the gate to José. I managed to struggle out of the chair where I was enjoying the sun working, and hobbled to the wall to be greeted with:

Veg haul
Veg haul

Surprise 1

Two cabbages, a bulb of fennel and some acelga. (Chard? Spinach beet? whatever it’s called in English anyway). ‘Freshly picked this morning,’ she said. Oh no. They’d gone out in the car soon after we’d given them the chocs. Surely they hadn’t driven out to pick some veg for us from a relative’s plot just to be able to give us something back? Either way, a bunch of fresh veg was a fine reward for chocs in our view.

The following morning our generous neighbours had been the victims of theft. Seven plant pots, complete with flowers, had been taken from the railings on their terrace. Later that week, they told us that the thieves had also helped themselves to the washing hanging out there too. They made light of it, and joked with us that our house looked too poor so clearly hadn’t attracted attention. Theirs has been extensively extended whereas ours is still the same simple basic original house. And, I don’t have flowers in plantpots that can be seen or reached from the street. Only a couple of rather evil spiky cacti.

Many years ago, we went down the town one Sunday morning leaving our front gate unlocked. I’ve no idea why we didn’t lock it. Laziness I guess. ‘It’s ok,’ said Partner, ‘who’s going to steal a couple of dog leads?’ Somebody. That’s who. Because when we got back, the leads we’d left on a chair were gone.

Similarly, who would steal seven plantpots and some washing? Someone who’s desperate. A sign of the times. When Partner was chatting to our neighbours later during a dog-walking encounter, the husband (aged around 52/3) was expressing his sadness at not being able to find work. Since the construction firm where he was an associate partner dissolved more than ten years ago, he’s had a couple of three-month temporary jobs with the council. The way things are in Spain, he faces the rest of his life without work, while his wife gets a little cleaning money, and their older son gets occasional chef jobs and work at the stables in season.

One lunchtime, a plate of food appeared. I’d got our food ready, but we’d not eaten and we were sitting outside in the sun as usual before we went in to eat. ‘It’s garbanzos and vegetables,’ she said. ‘No meat or anything,’ she added quickly, knowing the cranky foreigners’ dietary preferences. ‘It’s filled us all up, and this is what’s left.’ She said it sadly, clearly wishing they could afford fillet steak instead of having to eat basic peasant food to keep going. A day or so later, a bag of broad beans appeared. This is a family with no full-time work, and yet, they still share what they have with us, and never accept anything from us without giving back.

Surprise 2

The same week, I received an email from someone I’d never met. It came via a third party from the administrator of the site where I review books. Just to explain, it’s not a did-I-or-didn’t-I-like-this-book, retell the story, sort of review site, but one where we have to objectively say whether or not the book has been well-written and if so why (or why not). I’d said a particular book was okay, but could be better, and gave it three stars. I’d also pulled together the usual set of notes (four pages) for the author explaining why it could be better, giving examples of spelling and grammatical errors, and re-writing a couple of paragraphs to show how the writing style could be improved.

Our reviews are anonymous and we don’t deal directly with the authors, so they have no idea which annoying pernickety reviewer pulled their book to pieces, and I’m sure many of them hate my nit-picking and not remotely generous assessments.

Anyway, this person thanked me for my detailed review and analysis saying that the two (two!) editors used on the book didn’t provide nearly as much to think about as my feedback had done. The author went on to say that s/he kept going back to my notes to help with their writing/thoughts.

You can tell this person is American; I’d gone ‘above and beyond’, ‘ your insights are exceptional’ and finally, the ‘honor of your highly constructive criticism’. How embarrassing. We don’t say things like that in Britain, more like, ‘thank you for your notes, I found them helpful’. In fact, if they had been British, I’d have suspected a piss-take. Seriously though, I was impressed that instead of being defensive, someone had actually taken my report to heart (cut 5,000 words out of said book using my comments) and made the effort to write a thoughtful thank you letter. It reminded me of sitting down after Christmas, writing thank you letters for all the unwanted boxes of hankies received from great-aunts.

In a week when someone stooped low enough to steal plantpots and washing from a family that is struggling anyway, it was so nice to get an out-of-the-blue email like that. Not everyone out there is bad, luckily. I sent a reply via our third party, thanking her very much for her kind reply. I wonder if I’ll get another mail thanking me for my reply to her reply …

Surprise 3

On thank yous, Christina George, who wrote The Publicist series about the irritating woman who couldn’t make up her mind between two men, sent a thank you email to everyone who had participated in her book tour. Nice touch. She also said she’d tried to comment on every reviewer’s blog. What impressed me about Ms George was that she didn’t do the bland ‘thank you for your review’ that a couple of others have done. She actually made a comment pertinent to the blog post, and like the author above, she accepted any criticism.

And, a freebie

Claudia Must Die
Claudia Must Die
Still on books, back when I wrote about Claudia Must Die, some readers expressed interest in it. So if you didn’t download it back then, hurry up now because it’s free this weekend. The promotion ends tomorrow. If you subscribe to readcheaply and enews reader today it’s on there, otherwise:

Amazon UK and Amazon USA

It’s categorised as mystery/thriller but I’d add humour/satire to that too. Worth the read.

And, what does one do with two cabbages? Why, pickle the red one of course. One person’s chocolate is another person’s pickle. The thought of pickled red cabbage had us both salivating. No caterpillars were harmed in the making of pickled cabbage. I threw him/her over the wall. Onto the street. Not onto next door’s terrace.

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88 comments on “Good people, bad people, thank you

    • In this house, I pickle anything. But it actually takes him to remind me oddly. ‘What am I going to do with all this cabbage/cauliflower/cucumber/etc?’ ‘Pickle it.’ So true and so sensible. Do now I do. When he reminds me.

      Writing about the chocolate reminded me that my dad would often walk or drive into,town after Sunday lunch to buy a box of Lindt or Suchard chocolates.

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    • On Valentine’s Day no less. Damn, I could have weaved that into my story quite nicely. Oh well. Thanks for the info and the visit. I see he was Italy’s richest man. Can’t say I approve of the extravagant packaging of his chocs, but I guess consumerism just meant lira/euros to him

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      • Actually he was a very interesting man. You should Giggle him. His family had their own Hazelnut trees which are considered the finest in Europe. They were used in his chocolates.

        He was a chocolatier at heart and made a great product which made him a fortune. There are plenty of rich men in Italy that did nothing to improve our lives.

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  1. Swiss chard is what the spinach thing looked like to me, in English. And red cabbage. Mmm Mmm that was a score. I’m sorry to hear that people in Gib and Spain are having a hard time. At least they know how to grow their own veg, cook beans etc. We’ve lost a lot of that knowledge in Britain. I would wish them better circumstances for their self sufficiency though. As for stealing. I think a lot of folks nick stuff because they can even if they have no use for it themselves. I suppose it’s something someone else hasn’t got any more.

    Cheers

    MTM

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    • Being bilingual is great until you can’t remember something in your birth tongue. Partner went to see a neighbour to give a quote today and couldn’t remember what satinado was in English. Didn’t matter cos they were speaking Spanish anyway. ‘That shiny stuff,’ I suggested helpfully when he started telling me. ‘Vinyl silk,’ he said scornfully once he’d finally remembered it.

      I thought there was a Swiss in there but couldn’t remember what! Veg names are funny. Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, Swede … I could have cooked the red cab but no, pickled it had to be.

      Andalucía has always been pretty poor, apart from the rich landowners. And where we are is an agricultural area so people work on the land for peanuts. When there was a construction boom it was fine, but now … Fifty per cent unemployment rate for young people is bad news. And usually in the mid twenties for everyone. But averages are just that. The general consensus in our village is that there is no work. Sad times.

      Yes. I think there is that element to stealing too. It reminded me of the spate of washing line thefts that went on in the UK years ago. Usually knickers I think. I tell you, nobody would steal my holey grey (only one shade) underwear.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not bilingual but I remember after a while in France ceasing to think in English and when I wanted to describe something I didn’t know three French name for I’d just get a picture of the object in my head, :-) as for the knickers! Mwahahahaharg yeh. Mine are all black because the white ones go grey so fast but they, too, have holes in.

        Cheers

        MTM

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        • Well I’m not truly bilingual with impeccable accuracy but I can speak, read and write Spanish well enough to not struggle. And I can switch pretty easily, although sometimes comes out as Gibberish (as llanito is sometimes known). Black is more sensible, but I’m pretty pale-skinned even with a tan, so white/grey they are. We had a La Senza in Gib for a few years which was great. And then, they upped and went. I refuse to buy underwear from M&S. The state of my bras is worse than my knickers …

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  2. Pickled red cabbage served with Lancashire (Sorry) HotPot is delish.
    I’m glad to see that the milk of human kindness is still flowing despite the hardship and that manners still have a place too. Most authors don’t accept criticism of their babies from anyone much less take it to heart and improve the books accordingly. You must have felt really vindicated then.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    • Never liked hot pot. Can’t imagine eating hot pot and red cabbage! Mind you, our fish and chip shop used to sell Shaws pickled cabbage but I never knew anyone who ate pickled cabbage and fish and chips. Still, they sold pickled eggs too. Odd huh?

      Manners are nice I think. Yes, thank yous cost time, but still, why not? Are we all so rude these days? It’s somewhat like replying to blog comments. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment so I will reply etc.

      I know about the baby syndrome, and I can understand it. Not so much vindicated as appreciated. To get a comment from someone who I’d had no direct contact with was really surprising.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My neighbour, Flor, zapped me with a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates because I take her recycling bins in every week when she’s out at work. (The reason I’d been doing that is that they blow away in the wind when emptied – which doesn’t do much for the environment they’re supposed to improve.)
    I was taken aback by the gift and resolved to scratch her dog more often.

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    • I wonder how many people take in bins for similar reasons? And yes, it hardly deserves a generous gesture, but how nice is that? Rabbit and cat sitting always seemed to result in bottles of red wine, helping neighbour’s is just something we all do. I think. I doubt the dog would worry. Probably wants the chocolate but it’s not meant to be good for dogs. I recommend toast. Never met a dog that didn’t love toast.

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  4. The man invented Nutella . . . I have a shrine to him in my house.

    Interesting about the reviews.

    One would think most people would like errors pointed out . . . I recently got a reminder that’s almost never the case.

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    • So I understand. Not that I’ve ever indulged in Nutella in my life. It’s a European thing ;) Anyway, your ancestry makes you biased.

      I think David above hit the nail smartly. Most people don’t want to think their baby isn’t perfect. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t be happy either. I’m not just talking spelling errors here, (for people who get the wrong words instead of cramp, from memory, that was right wasn’t it? Cra(m)p in the leg?) this is about total writing style, plot, characters, dialogue etc etc. It’s meant to be fair, objective and helpful, but many people don’t like that, some refuse to even correct basic spelling and grammatical errors when they have been pointed out. Now that is totally childish.

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    • WHAT?! Are you still going on about one missing em?

      I maintain that was intentional so that I could follow-up with the jokes. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

      Seriously, I recently submitted a few hundred words for on-line critique by an author. He was interested in using it, and e-mailed me a series of questions, plus extensive disclaimers and warnings about not getting all offended by the feedback.

      I answered all the questions but, because I’d been editing my stuff for submission to the workshop I’m applying to, something he wrote jumped out at me. Normally I’d ignore it as it’s something I write without thinking. His form letter read as follow:

      “Your piece is looking like it could be a good fit for the series.”

      I corrected it like he does on-line.

      “Your piece [is looking] looks like it could be a good fit for the series.”

      It was a lark; a bit of fun. I did not even think about it . . . Until I got a return e-mail with the following:

      “Was that intended to be some sort of statement?
      While it may seem odd, I phrased it like that on purpose, as I didn’t want to make it seem like a person’s submission is a sure-fire deal. Sometimes, it depends on the writer’s response to these questions. It struck me as rather bold, so I thought I’d ask before drawing an assumption.”

      I replied it was just harmless fun, and I was not making any statement. While I was at it, I withdrew my permission to use my stuff, and gave him some unasked-for advice . . . Namely to not be thin-skinned and to stop thinking himself so seriously.

      The next day there was a lengthy post on his blog about people who feel the need to challenge him:

      “I experience someone trying to ‘one up’ me when it comes to critique” and
      ” … people seem to think that if they dethrone the king, so to speak, then they are king.​​​​”

      *sigh* . . . there goes my chance to be king.

      But, were I king I might have written: “Your submission appears a good fit for the series.”

      . . . probably wrong . . . and, dang it! . . . another long reply. Obviously, I’m trying to dethrone someone.

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      • It was funny though. And, I exercised great restraint by not pointing it out. :)

        I think on the ‘good fit’ saga, any of the options you’ve related are ok. It’s largely a matter of preference, style, formality. For example if I was using appear, I’d probably add ‘would’ to make it conditional, ie it would appear to fit, depending on everyone being happy. Which clearly in this instance they no longer were.

        There’s some woman who does a once a month critique selected from submissions, can’t remember her name though. If I come across it, or any others, I’ll let you know, and you can ruffle a few more feathers ;)

        Egos and pomposity abound in the publishing world. I find some of the authors amazing when I visit their blogs. Everybody in the world is at fault for not buying their books and leaving five star reviews on Amazon. I managed to get my comments deleted by making an uncharitable and quite vicious evil observation such as maybe not everyone enjoyed your book/was interested in buying it. Begone negative Roughseas! But if I’m buying a book, I’d prefer to buy a well-written one with a decent tale. Their choice to write, mine not to buy their book/write a glowing review.

        As I’m not sitting on any throne looking down on my minions, you’re safe for now on here. Hope you get on the workshop. It will be interesting to hear about and lots of photo ops too up there.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I made pickled red cabbage a few weeks ago…ready now. I’d forgotten how good it was.
    We have struck gold with one neighbour….she has stuff from the finca and her teetotal son who works in the wine trade brings us the odd bottle of wine.
    We used to have the odd missing item….but an irregular supply of banana wine to the main suspect has put a stop to it…easier to give him the primary article than forcing him to go through the commercial transaction necessary to purchase it.

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    • I have to say we ate some the first evening. No patience here. My recipe says it should be eaten within two or three months or it will go soft. I mean, as if! Two or three weeks before it is cleared out would be a surprise. Piccalilli is next on the pickle hit list, plus I discovered an interesting pickled cucumber and green pepper one I may try.

      Bartering and exchange are good, and in these times a valuable way of helping each other out. Banana wine sounds good. How exotic is your life, all we have is vino de terreno.

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        • Yes, there isn’t much missing out of that. Have you experimented with it? Tried different/fresh herbs for example? I might give it a go. It’s easy enough. That’s the good thing about pickles. They’re easy :) and it means theres always something fresh to bung on a salad plate. Plus once it’s made, there’s no more prep. I salted some more red cabbage overnight so I’ll top up the jar today, and maybe make coleslaw with the green cabbage. The delights of free veg.

          I misread that for the sheep eating banana wine …

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          • I’ve stuck to the recipe as Higher Authority likes it…..I like the idea of the sheep on the toot on banana wine but am blowed if I’m going to all that trouble when they can just eat the things as they come.

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          • I can do what I want so long as there is loads of vinegar and at less than 50 cents a litre that’s a pretty easy request to meet.

            I am totally lusting after this banana wine now. I used to love banana fritters from the Chinese chippy when I was at university.

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  6. That’s wonderful that the author took your advice and made changes. But how sad that two editors missed so much. In today’s publishing world, finding a good editor is not easy.

    Thanks so much for mentioning Claudia Must Die. Much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the publicity on enews reader and read cheaply will have contributed more than my mention! But as people were interested in the excerpt I used, I thought it worth a go.

      When I write notes for authors, especially sample rewrite pars, I do explain why I’m doing it, otherwise it just looks like I’m taking a red pen to it for no good reason. I think a lot of inexperienced authors get carried away with detail, description, and almost pretentious prose. You’d think they were aiming at being Henry James. Really, they should be paring their work down so that the story, action and dialogue stand out.

      I think there are a number of issues around the editing problem, not least of which is cost. Also, it’s the sort of thing everyone thinks they can do. Not all authors make good editors of others’ work, (let alone their own!), yet it’s amazing how many author/editors there are. Finally, there is the potential for significant misunderstanding about what an editor is going to deliver and both author and editor have a responsibility there. Is an editor going to be a souped-up proofreader (that may be all that’s necessary) or are they someone who suggests changes to prose, rewording, deletions, additions to strengthen important areas etc. To me, a good editor works with the author so that the author learns from the process, and can start to suggest similar types of changes themself. Pretty much like the author in the individual review, using the notes I’d provided.

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  7. I started writing a comment a lot earlier, and then Chrome decided to close :( Anyway, I had begun to say that I must follow your advice and pickle some of our red cabbage. I hadn’t thought about it until we grew our own…

    The generosity and hospitality of poor folk can be overwhelming. I have been fortunate to experience it a number of times. One which I shall never forget was in Swaziland. I was there for a weekend with friend, one of whom had been in the Peace Corps. We went to see the family with whom he had stayed, and encountered a big “do”: boiling pots of meat, lots of people and goings on. They were delighted that Patrick had gone to visit and the entire load of us had to stay and share in the festivities and the fare. Our weekend away, must have cost more than they saw in three years. I must look for the photographs of that lovely old couple; hope I still have them.

    And, so nice to have someone say “Thank you”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I remember, I draft a more-than-one par reply elsewhere. Not that I remember often. It was a while ago when we had a cauliflower glut from next door and I said what on earth will I do with them? Pickle them, he said. Now why hadn’t I thought of that? So, now, I’m trying to keep up a constant supply of pickles and Indian chutneys/pickle, so I’ve always got a decent selection available. More on pickles later I think.

      I’ve learned a lot from my Spanish neighbours. It’s ironic, as José and Adelina are the age my parents would have been. One day, José was saying to Partner, ‘you are my neighbour, but you are also my friend’. I thought it was such a telling statement. There is a point where being good neighbours goes that bit further.

      It’s ironic when people with money are so mean and stingy. We had an example of that recently too where a millionaire was complaining about spending a few pounds. Dear me.

      Thank you is under-estimated, especially the unexpected ones.

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      • “you are my neighbour, but you are also my friend” is a very telling statement. Living in a small village, that is something quite a few people don’t “get”. Like “good fences make good neighbours”; last year, or was it the year before, we were compelled to erect a fence between ourselves and our then neighbours. Their dogs terrified our cats and I resented, enormously, being barked at, at my kitchen door, by said dogs. Won’t go into other unsavoury characteristics of those neighbours…

        That irony is one that so often strikes me, too. And that the same people, are neither satisfied or happy.

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        • We’ve been lucky to have decent neighbours in all our houses both immediately and around the streets, some have been good neighbours, some have been friends. On top of that, Partner has often done work for them, so we’ve balanced the neighbour/friend/client tightrope too.

          Spain has always been slightly different as our neighbours basically took us under their wing to help us in our new life. It made it a heck of a lot easier. I learned how to cook Andaluz recipes, they put in doors and windows together, we’ve gardened together, celebrated Christmas, New Year, Easter, watched the World Cup with them …

          Generosity is about more than money.

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  8. Love pickled red cabbage and anything to do with artichokes. Don’t like Ferrero Rocher – find them disappointing although the containers have proved very useful over the years.
    Nice to get a thank you from someone who clearly has no problem with constructive criticism.

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    • I’m amazed how many people like pickled red cabbage! I suppose it depends what spices you use, but still, I thought it was quite an eclectic taste. Seems not. It is so easy to do too.

      I do like fresh artichokes, but you really need them fresh and young to avoid chewiness and a mouthful of fluff. Our local super does 6–8 hearts for 89 cents a tin which is a pretty good price and decent quality too.

      Can’t remember if I’ve ever had FR. If so, it wasn’t memorable. I used to like pralines but the photo of the choc I found doesn’t look very appetising. And, nuts play havoc with fillings at my ripe old age … now red cabbage on the other hand, mmm

      Constructive criticism is a bit of a cliché but I suppose that’s what it was. If I’m saying why a book doesn’t merit four or five stars, but could then it’s only reasonable to give examples of where it could be improved.

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    • Yeah, Pippa has mostly the colouring of a GSD as you can see, but he’s got all the extra fur of a husky as he’s a cross between the two. Our other GSD had similar colouring but nothing like the thick coat Pippa has. If you don’t want dog fur all over, don’t get a GSD husky. Actually don’t home a dog if you are that picky.

      He gets the odd hotspot, first dog to do so, if it’s really bad we use some cream available from the pharmacy the name of which I’ve forgotten or a pricy spray, Eqmina I think.

      He’s a very vain dog, plants his feet in the street until he’s been stoked and acknowledged. Had him eleven years now since he rescued us from the street.

      Liked by 2 people

        • We’ve only been rescued from the street twice, both in Spain, there’s a surprise. The other three were shelters. One was a pup from a pregnant bitch who had been dumped :(, the other got chucked out when they had a kid, and the GSD was a broken home product, spent time on the streets before the dog warden found him. All sad tales eh? How goes the new kitty rescue? Settled in ok?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Darwin is doing fine. Had his balls lopped off on Thursday, is on some basic meds to combat any possible infection (our vet is ridiculously thorough) , and is back getting up to mischief. Introduced him to catnip on Saturday night… Bam! It was all Jefferson Airplane and Alice in Wonderland after that ;)

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          • Neither of our current dogs are neutered. Pippa was too old when he found us, and they don’t go running around off the lead. I think we’ve only had one neutered dog. Our vet’s a great GP but I’m not sure about his surgical skills so Snows also remains intacto. Small dog, large balls as one of our neighbours commented. Fits, because he’s a ballsy, feisty little thing. Guess you have to be to survive a couple of days in a rubbish bin.

            Shame there isn’t a dog equivalent to catnip. Snowy tries to steal beer though …

            Liked by 1 person

  9. That red cabbage looks like a very fair return for the chockys, and much better for you. It’s really sad to know that there are people desperate enough to steal such ‘trivial’ items as plants and washing. Over the years, I’ve also experienced theft of similar things in South Africa. I was highly indignant, but not surprised. That was a long time ago, and nowadays, absolutely anything that can be stolen, will be. :( I had to laugh about your remarks about the differences between the Americans and the British way of responding. I always had to write the obligatory New Year thank you letters to aunts, mostly for hankies and manicure sets. :)

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    • Depends which you prefer I suppose. Veg for me anytime. It was win-win though as neither of us incurred costs.

      Thefts of non-valuable items are a sign of the times. Our pueblo is normally pretty crime-free, partly because people look out for each other. Hell, we even tell each other if we’ve forgotten to turn our outside lights off so we don’t waste electricity!

      I’d forgotten the manicure sets 😀 💅

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I was reading an article on the weekend how small acts of positivity aggregate, and counteract negativity… not rocket science I know but you experiences are a great example. It’s something we recognize but still makes the world of difference. Your neighbors could ill afford to lose those items but they are better off than the thief. The author was better off for your comments. You were better off for the thoughtful reply. The cabbage was better for the pickling!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Amazing. Everyone else seems to adore it. Trust you to be different.

      Can’t be that difficult. I only post a couple of times a week. Unlike people who post more than once a day.

      I’ll be honest, it was nice. What was the best was knowing that my comments were useful though :)

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  11. I so enjoy reading about your cool neighbours. It’s funny, this ‘little deeds that make a difference’ thing. I wonder how many times we think about doing something small but back out thinking that it might not go down well or be understood in the correct light, and yet these simple and thoughtful acts really can add value to living and getting through the day.

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    • Thanks MBL. I enjoy writing about them, it’s good to show how nice people can be and how we can get on together. A little more in the world wouldn’t harm. With our neighbours, our relationship is that we share practical items whether food or drill bits, and our skills. It’s a non-money relationship.

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      • We are starting to move towards that route with our new neighbours…seems so unnecessary to have two of everything when you can share items such as step ladders and other tool like items. Will see where it leads…hopefully in the same direction as your experience with the ‘next doors’.

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        • Last night, Partner had just finished working when there was a knock on the flat door. The flat tenant’s son had managed to lock the bathroom door when he came out so no-one could get in to shower or use the toilet!

          So he traipses upstairs again (he’d been working in the block) with his drill box and sorts out the door for them. ‘How much do I owe you?’ ‘Just get me a six-pack of beer.’

          It’s the third (I think) time he’s done a locked door fix. The one neighbour bought a couple of bottles of wine, another gave us some food. It’s all much easier than a cash transaction. If you can get on with neighbours in whatever way, it’s a good way to live. I would be useless without him of course, my only contribution to the Spanish neighbours was a couple of photographs of the older grandson. I certainly couldn’t get people into locked doors 😀

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  12. Pippa is the elegant one. (Molly sighs) I am finding large chunks of soft white fluff around the house which must be the malamute blowing of coat we’ve heard about as her top coat is dark and the cat isn’t white at all. They are getting on each others nerves being stuck inside so much with the rain and cold (30F today)….Molly is desperate to play. The cat has realized the dog will back p and keeps charging. Maybe spring isn’t too far away.
    We have red cabbage waiting. I love the color and designs of those cabbage heads. I’ll steam it shortly.
    How sad and annoying about the thefts. There’ve been a lot of potted plants of all sizes stolen this past year from porches in the historical Heights section of Houston (which is a mix of old cottages and Victorian homes in various stages of repair and redo. The area has deed restrictions now so new homes must be similar architecture and sizes. Prevents a lot of McMansions and 3 story townhouses on a lot where once was one house. Thefts seem to pick up before Christmas, Valentines, Mother’s Day, and graduation. What can I say? Most of the homes have security cams now, so you can see them stealing. Many of the expensive pots with or without plants easily sell at one of the local flea markets around town.
    Nice veggies from friends and a nice note from a stranger. That’s a pretty successful week.
    (This is really wonderful “José was saying to Partner, ‘you are my neighbour, but you are also my friend’.” You are rich indeed.)

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    • Pippa has presence. The trouble is, he knows it. He went out the other night, and planted his feet. All 40kgs or whatever he weighs. He would not move until someone he knew came down the street to stroke him and speak to him. He finds Molly very cute. So much more attractive than an annoying white rat Podenco. His undercoat is whiteish too. Very different to topcoat, so soft and fluffy.

      What was odd, was that although plantpots with flowers had been stolen, José also offered us some plantpots the same week! I think he breeds them. Are people so desperate, or is it for the crack? We stole washing and plantpots! Such fun!

      It’s sad that civility, politeness, courtesy etc now merit writing about. Once, it was the norm. Now it’s a treat.

      We’re like James Bond, we don’t have any friends, but we make an exception for José.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stealing here sadly has become a career path. Not kidding. Some many be drugs, but most it “wants” not “needs” like electronic devices/ games/ TVs/ phones….When authorities started taking photos of everyone who showed up at scrap metal recycling places, thefts of city manhole covers/fire plug caps slowed dramatically. If pawnshops (which are now on every corner buying gold and silver) also took photos and fingerprints, I bet home robberies would slow, too. Some people run a constant weekend garage/tag sale with stolen items. Bikes and computers are taken and listed immediately on eBay. Owners track them down, but the cops rarely arrest (“a friend gave it to me”) and even if arrested, minors have nothing happen to them and adults bail out in no time with little consequence. Lack of prosecution and punishment is doing us in. (That and people politely not asking where their expensive “gift” came from)
        Robbers have learned to tazer, pepper spray, or beat the dog with a baseball bat, just open the gate, or toss in tainted meat, so dogs are at risk…and they are stealing the dogs to sell on the street/Craig’s List/eBay …or maybe call back for ransom later.
        Guess the only answer is to not have much people want, live in the smallest plainest house, or build compounds like in Mexico. No way to live.
        Waiting for rain to stop to get Molly out – 30 degrees is nothing to her. But is she bored, Pippa. (And Molly does that lay down and refuse to move unless she gets a pat – on her walks, too. Embarrassing trying to get the lump up on her feet and moving down the sidewalk…if she isn’t cooperating, not much luck with that. We just have to wait for the pat. Hoping you guys have a nice sunny outdoor spot with lots of pats on the way.

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        • Stealing ie burglary actually, used to be electrical goods, video recorders, TVs, radios etc Plus jewellery. Someone gave me a fenced radio :(

          Nasty to assault the dogs. Very nasty. Dogs are only doing their job. These days we do live in tiny small places. But other people still have less …

          Sun is rising in the sky, now getting afternoon snoozes in the flat for their snoozes and my work. It’s all ok. Pippa offers Molly a snooze on his rug, Snowy just wants to play chase the ball. It’s Molly’s choice.

          Liked by 1 person

  13. One day last week I’d been too lazy/late/rushed/tired to make lunch before work and, so, went and bought a sub sandwich. “What’s that,” I asked, pointing to a topping that looked like pickled beets but which wasn’t. “Pickled turnip,” was the reply. Remembering that the majority of the clientele at the place consisted of university students, “I bet not a lot of people ask for that, ” I said. She smiled. “Give me loads of it, please.” After I got back to my place I opened the sandwich and picked off all of the pickled turnip first and ate it separately. In a word: delicious. Now I have to find out where it came from. That cabbage also looks wonderful.

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    • I’ve only recently encountered sub sandwiches. Such a strange term. Pickled turnip sounds interesting. White turnips? We love them, raw or cooked. Now that is a good idea. Might fit nicely in a mixed pickle compilation.

      The red cabbage is brill. I am quite chuffed with it :)

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  14. Yet another sign WordPress is eating blogs in my reader.

    I am sorry to hear about your neighbors’ plight. They remind me of the neighbors I used to have in college. We’d all get together every once in a while to share food and stuff, and retaliatory gifts were never accepted.

    Oh, and the person who sent you the thank you letter couldn’t possibly be American. We have an image to maintain abroad, which is why we ship the kinds of tourists we do. It won’t do to say positive things about us. Quite frankly, I’m shocked and appalled.

    And that food looks delicious. I wish I had something comparable in my fridge.

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  15. Hi Kate, Just made my first red cabbage dinner of the winter last night. Something about cold and snow which awakens the dormant hausfrau in me and a yearning for good German food. With a pork roast and mashed potatoes…..yum!

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    • I cooked it years ago when as usual, we got given some, but have to say, I prefer it raw in salad, or pickled. But, sounds like very comfort food. Hope it’s not too cold for you. Sounds like some evil weather over there. Keep warm.

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  16. Those salads looks absolutely divine! I would eat salad every day of my life for sure. I love it! Great shots as well and of course my favourite is Pippa. He is such a darling. :D Please give him and Snowy a big hug and kiss from me. :D ♥

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    • Actually we are eating more and more salads rather than cooked veg. There is always one salad meal, sometimes two. Yesterday I made coleslaw with some cabbage rather than cooking it, plus carrot of course, and I added apple. I’ll be a raw foodie next!

      Thank you. Pippa says thank you too. Snowy pushes him out of the way and wants all the attention :D

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lovely! When I cook veggies, I love them more crispy … not fully cooked.

        Oh, that sounds delicious! Raw veggies are good. Just not raw meat or fish. Yuck. LOL!

        Awwww, so adorable and of course Snowy want all the attention. He can have it all. I will take Pippa where Snowy can’t see me, and hug and kiss him there. LOL!

        Like

        • Yup, our veg are never cooked to mush. Hey, just got a veg curry delivered from my Idian neighbour upstairs :) how cool is that? No need to cook lunch 😀

          You will have to join the queue to hug Pippa, he gets a lot of attention here in Gib. A was walking Snows the other morning and a couple of Spanish workies were discussing whether Pippa or Snowy was the nicest! One like El Grande because he liked big dogs, and the other liked El Chico because he was a hunting dog. Me, I don’t care, they both deserved a home.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Now that is way cool! I’m moving down there. Is there a place for me to stay? :lol:

            Pffft! When I get there one day, I will be first in line and everyone else will have to take care. I have a good right hook! LOL!

            Awww, that’s so sweet. ‘El Grande and El Chico’ – I think they are both adorable and I will hug them up! :D

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          • He’s a really nice chap and knows we like Indian food :) he brought a couple of jars of pickled chillis down the other day too.

            I am sure Pippa would be happy to love you. It’s me he won’t hug!

            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s cool when you have lovely neighbours like that. I’ll just watch you eat it. :lol:

            hahaha! In that case, you can hug Simba up. :D ♥

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  17. Another great update on cabbages and things.

    First, I’m sorry about the thefts. A sign of hard times, indeed. I wonder if people steal from people they know or if it’s easier to steal from a stranger. Never mind…

    Th Review: A consicentious review is worth its weight in gold to an author. Brava!

    The Cabbage: My sister taught me to make a sweet-savoury red cabbage dish.
    Use plenty sliced cabbage, some raisins, ginger.
    And of course, apples. Stir-fry the vertically sliced apple pieces before you add the other stuff.
    Then cover everything a few minutes to simmer. (don’t overcook the cabbage.)

    You can add onions if you wish a more savoury dish, or add brown sugar if you wish a semi-sweet side dish. I add brown sugar and it’s lovely.

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