August 1 was Lammas Day, formerly a British harvest festival and "quarter day" in Scotland. The celebrations were tied to the wheat harvest, and peasants were expected to give their landlords a quantity of grain. (In more recent times, Scottish tenants paid landlords their quarterly rent that day.) According to Wikipedia, the ancient Anglo-Saxons would take loafs of bread to church to have them blessed and then break them in four pieces, putting a piece in each corner of the barn.
Benedict Ambrose and I love incorporating ancient traditions into our lives in meaningful ways, so we celebrated Lammas Day by paying our first annual mortgage overpayment to the bank and eating a "Victoria Sandwich" cake, prepared by me.
Victoria Sandwich, by the way, is the easier cake in the world to make, because all you need are 6 oz self-raising flour, a 1/4 tsp of baking power to make sure this "self-raising" actually happens, 6 oz butter, 6 oz sugar, 3 eggs and a 1/2 tsp of vanilla. You pop the cake (8' tin) in a 350 F oven for about 40 minutes, and when you have allowed it to cool, you slice it in half horizontally, take the top off, cover the bottom with jam (and whipped cream if you're ambitious), and then put the top back on and dust the whole with icing sugar.
August 10th will be our first anniversary of taking possession of St. Benedict Over the Apple Tree, and thus we are beginning to redecorate, using some of the savings we still have after the mortgage repayment. We thought waiting a year would be the best way to proceed, learning from the house, as it were, what it wanted done to it. (We also needed a year to recovery from the stress of buying and moving.)
Thus today I am going to go out and buy paint samples for the dining-room/guest-room/office, which wants to be red instead of magnolia.
"It will be terribly dark," says B.A., but I do not care because the room wants to be elegant and cannot abide magnolia walls when we entertain. If we ever sell, we can just paint it magnolia again. Meanwhile, I am uncertain as to how elegant the room can be as under the magnolia is a lot of textured wallpaper, and everyone advises us not to take it down, lest the plaster come down with it. Fortunately, we have engaged the services of an artist friend who is quite brilliant at interior decorating.
The wisdom of painting the office red is somewhat dubious, I admit, as I have a hard time staying calm as I write or rewrite the Worst News of the Day. Early this week I had a total meltdown and hurt my hand by banging my fist on my desk three times, dislodging my M.Div. diploma on top of the desk, which fell to the floor. I also shouted at poor B.A. who, despite having been married for ten years, made the mistake of saying "You just need to ...". After that I cried stormily for about five minutes. Finally I took the last two hours of my work day off, as I couldn't type with a towel of ice on my hand, and apologized to B.A. between giving him tips on how to speak to furious women.
The next day I casually mentioned my meltdown to various fitness instructors to see if they had any advice on how not to get into such a state, and to my surprise, one said "How sad that you're not allowed a meltdown."
Her philosophy was that when you need to melt down, you should just melt down.
"The the river run through it," she said. "I'm going to make that my mantra for the day."
I found this pro-meltdown stance incredibly revolutionary although, really, I don't think hitting my desk or shouting at B.A, is good outlet for my running river of rage. As I'm pretty sure a good old fashioned punching bag would work against the elegance we are planning for this room, I may invest in a large pillow to beat up instead. If we weren't going to replace the overly-soft single guest bed with a sofa-bed, I'd fling myself on that and flail about.
I think the idea that red-haired people are more passionate than others is nonsense, but I am also sure that Vikings lurk near the bottom of my family tree, and that at least one of them is a berserker. I wonder if they lived long enough to accumulate belly fat from all the cortisol. This reminds me that a good way to make a woman stop freaking out might be to say, "Remember your cortisol!"