Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I Iron My Blouse

I have given up on some aspects of ironing.  Some of my best friends iron their socks, and others iron nothing at all.  Whilst I can't subscribe to either of these extreme positions, these days I can justify an unironed pillow case as easily as I can drink a glass of red wine, but a crumpled blouse is still beyond the pale.

As a history student in the 80s, I took a module in 14th century Irish history and I was delighted when I found out that The Pale is not just a metaphor for a boundary but was an actual boundary delineating the area around Dublin identified as the true extent of English rule in the Middle Ages. Whilst the whole of Ireland was supposedly under English rule as a consequence of the 12th century Norman invasion, The Pale was (in places) physically marked out by fences and ditches as the area in which this rule was influential, an area which diminished over time.

The amount of ironing I do has shrunk over the years.  It has taken me a while to retreat from the ideal standard my mother set.  She had a particular day for washing (Monday), and a day for ironing (Wednesday).  When Granny came to stay she helped out by doing the ironing.  But she did it sitting down, which always looked too casual, almost enjoyable.  It probably was, as she also smoked Woodbines and never put more than two pence in the church collection.

Now, the thought of having a whole day delineated as a washing day or an ironing day has a certain appeal.  I would like to be in control of my clothes to that extent, instead of hurriedly ironing a blouse before going to work as I did today.

Granny used to say that heaven for her would be days spent weeding and nights spent in a bed with freshly washed and ironed sheets.  I know what she  meant.  There is something exquisite about the feel of pressed cotton against my skin.

Monday, 19 January 2015

I Conduct An Experiment

In the interests of science, and of my son's soon to be birthday, I want to find out whether cookies baked from frozen dough taste as good as those baked from fresh dough.  In order to know this, I am conducting a controlled experiment.

According to Wikipedia (a source I use when my students aren't looking): "a controlled experiment often compares the results obtained from experimental samples against control samples, which are practically identical to the experimental sample except for the one aspect whose effect is being tested (the independent variable)".

This evening, I have made a batch of cookie dough - chocolate chip - and so far I have baked 12 and I am waiting for a further 6 to be ready. That makes 18 cookies which I hope is enough for a few to make it through to tomorrow evening.  I have frozen the remaining dough - enough for six cookies - which I will unfreeze tomorrow, roll into balls, press with a fork and bake.  The independent variable in my experiment will be the frozen nature of the dough.  Or rather, the unfrozen nature of the dough. Or rather the once frozen nature of the dough.

On my return from work tomorrow, and before badminton, I'll make a pot of tea, sit down and compare the cookies baked from freshly baked dough with the cookies baked from once frozen dough.  I will do this by eating one, then another, being careful not to muddle them up.

The problem is, because the cookies baked from fresh dough will be a day old by tomorrow, another independent variable (one-day-oldness) will have been introduced.   The other problem is, I have to eat one first, and then the other, introducing another variable (order-in-which-cookies-are-eaten).  It will also be a Tuesday.  And I might fancy Earl Grey.  And we will be a couple of minutes of light nearer the equinox.

I seem to have backed myself into an uncontrolled cookie-filled corner of multiple independent variables.  Ah well.