Calen’s Sandbox Challenge Week 4

This week, in the sandbox challenge, Calen says:

Tell us a little bit about:
a) what relaxes you, and
b) what brings you pleasure

So, what relaxes me?

I have been staring out of my living room window at the sunset, racking my brains for an answer to this question. For a moment I thought that this activity may be a form of relaxation, but I realise it isn’t. When I look out of my window I’m always focusing on my writing – looking for the right word or idea, as if it will drop out f the sky – and usually it does, making me able to return to my laptop and carry on tapping at my keyboard.

I rarely relax – I hardly know how to. There was a time when lying on the floor, listening to The Planets, by Gustav Holst did the trick. When I meditated regularly that relaxed me, but these days I forget to make time to simply be.

What relaxes me?


  1. Watching movies late at night with my son, but we’re unlikely to do that again for a while, if ever.
  2. Thinking of a man I haven’t even set eyes on for over 15 years. I curl up on my side in bed, and imagine conversations we could have if we were to meet, and then I drift gently to sleep.
  3. Cocoa, to a limited extent.
  4. Reading.
  5. There isn’t a 5…

What brings me pleasure?


Before last weekend this list would have been longer, but it’s still respectable.

  1. My family – most of them.
  2. Seeing my sister happy and relaxed, and feeling confident that her happiness is set to continue.
  3. Writing.
  4. Good comedy, and lots of it. Laughing until it hurts.
  5. Gardening, playing scrabble and laughing with a special friend.
  6. Rollercaoster rides – especially vertical drops.
  7. Living alone.
  8. Any cat
  9. Idle chat
  10. My flat
  11. Bees.
  12. Cheese
  13. Flowers and Trees
  14. Reading
  15. Working as a volunteer in Oxfam
  16. Quality drawing paper and a 1B pencil
  17. Carpentry tools
  18. The smell of wood
  19. Using essential oils
  20. Spring mornings
  21. Summer evenings
  22. Autumn leaves
  23. Snowdrops telling me winter will not last forever.
  24. Primroses repeating the promise
  25. Being surrounded by pure, clean plant fragrances
  26. “Lush” products
  27. Beautiful fabrics
  28. Eating in good company
  29. Silence
  30. Listening to Leonard Cohen, John Otway, Tracy Chapman, The Pogues, Radiohead…
  31. Looking at my jugs – yes, my jugs – made of china and clay.

That will do for now…

ยฉJane Paterson Basil


25 thoughts on “Calen’s Sandbox Challenge Week 4

  1. LOL! I LOVED your jugs! You and Fim crack me up. She put a comment on the blog about dildos! I think it’s interesting that THIS exercise was difficult for you. Made me wonder what a person does when they get to that point in their life where physically they really can’t unwind but they don’t want to take any kind of medication for it. Bio feedback maybe?

    I usually find any of these kind of exercises hard as I get so serious about them, but I blew right threw this one. Didn’t even have to think about it. I realized that my lists are kind of overlapping. Which led me to ask if hard rock music can be as relaxing as harp music! o_O

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your list of pleasures – it’s beautiful, fully rounded … and you’ve even made parts of it rhyme! Was that intentional? Yes, yes to most of your choices. I still love kicking through Autumn leaves, cracking the ice on a frozen puddle, seeing the snowdrops, the crocuses, finally tulips, telling us Spring is close.
    Gorgeous, Jane. Made me want to run ouside and find some flowers to stare at ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lynn. Yes, the rhyming was deliberate. Most of the one word things that I like either rhyme or start with the same letter – cheese, coffee, chocolate, chundering…
      Spot the deliberate error.
      Speaking of icicles, here’s something gross: One winter when I was a child we had beautiful icicles hanging from a small waterfall near our house. I would break one off as I walked past, and wander up the road, sucking it. You’ve probably already guessed whatI’m going to say. Not long after the thaw, I realised there was raw sewage running down the strem.
      Ugh! But maybe that was what was behind the secret of my youthful allure!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Really? Good lord, weren’t you sick? Maybe it toughened up your immune system!
        When my mum was young (late 1940s into early 50s) every winter the family would have a huge pot on the go – a sort of soupy stew that stayed on the stove all season and would not be washed in all that time. Nan would add new things to it most days – meat, veg, whatever – and my mum says that by the spring, the edge of the pot was at least an inch thick with congealed stew. Imagine the health and safety consequences of that! The bacteria growing over months and months. Mind you, mum’s always had a VERY strong stomach. I’ve hardly ever known her to be sick and she’s very rarely ill at all. So maybe it did them good!

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        1. My dad used to talk about that he called it eternal stew, and was forever telling mum she should make it. My mum as never hot on food hygeine, butwhile she used to refill the milk-jug without washing it, over and over (there were always nasty yellow rims inside it – it put me off milk for life) she drew the line at that!
          I’ve got a strong stomach too!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Eternal Stew – of course, what a perfect name for it. Your mum’s milk jug would’ve put me off too, I think and it’s easy to be repelled by dairy – I know a few people who can’t eat yoghurt or cheese, many because of the smell!

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                1. My mum said that you couldn’t taste the mould after it was cooked, just as she said you couldn’t taste the celery in stew. (I didn’t like celery)
                  I could taste it. I have really good taste buds, and a fine sense of smell.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Didn’t work? As I have said before, you want to keep hold of that man. Anyone who can deduce that there are sprouts in the mash, just by spotting a few bits of green leaf in it could be a life saver.
                      For example, if a bomb fell into your soup, he’d probably notice it wasn’t a piece of carrot and fish it out, so you could sup in safety.
                      If, as so often happens, you inadvertently grabbed the jar of arsenic instead of the coffee, he’d probably spot the subtle difference, just by looking at it! It could save the whole family a lot of certain amount of inconvenience.
                      He’s a diamond.
                      See, that’s the only problem with living alone. If, after washing my hair, I absentmindedly pick up my Smith Wesson instead to dry my hair, there’s no-one to prevent me getting a bullet in my head. I can’t stand the thought that when they found my body my hair would be awry from not being properly styled.

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                    2. Ah, yes. How often have we all made that same mistake – the ‘arsenic coffee’ plea has gone down in legal history for the most used excuse for mariticide on record (Had to look that up, by the way – I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of forms of murder, don’t worry ๐Ÿ™‚ )
                      Isn’t there an awful saying ‘die young and leave a beautiful corpse’? I’ve already left it too late for that. I think we should start a new saying. Maybe ‘die old and grumpy and leave someone else to clear up the mess’!
                      Oh dear,it’s the first in over six weeks I’ve had the house to myself – I think it’s gone to my head ๐Ÿ™‚

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. I love your new saying!
                      Seriously, whenever I feel resentful at no longer being able to turn a decent cartwheel, I think of the many people I have known who would have been grateful to make old, aching bones, and I feel like a lucky winner.
                      Then I look at some of my contemporaries, and even some who are much younger than me, and I realise that I hit the jackpot.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. Yes! You hear it in the news or on the high street every day – people who don’t make ‘old bones’. It’s a tragedy to die young – there’s nothing romantic about it. Being reasonably healthy and moderately elderly -that’s my aim. Anythinig less will be thoroughly disappointing ๐Ÿ™‚
                      I like my new saying too – I may have it laminated and stuck to the fridge for my son to read!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. I’d love to do that! I’m serious. I talked to an ethical funeral director at the Big Green Festival a few years ago, and she says that it helps your children to come to terms with the fact that you will die one day if you buy the container you want to end up in, and use it to store blankets. The idea of the family helping to decorate it also came up.
                      When I mentioned it to my children, my younger two were definitely not happy!

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great list of pleasures and very poetic, I really enjoyed the rhythm ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t know why reading ‘rollercoasters’ in your list surprised me,but it did. Apparently in Bulgaria and such places ‘eternal stew’ is still regularly made according to a lady I know who moved here to the UK. She still makes it for her family here, I wish I could remember what she calls it. I’d only ever previously heard of anything similarly being kept on the go like that with curries, where at least the spices act as a preservative. Maybe any bacterial growth adds to the nutritional content, is killed by boiling and safe to eat when cooked. Wouldn’t fancy trying it myself. Hope you find a number five item to help relaxation ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. That’s interesting: I didn’t know about the Bulgarian stew. My father may have picked up that idea when he visited Bulgaria in the 1930s. His parents were very middle class and respectable. Their maid would never have done anything like that. (“Maid” sounds terrible, but she was considered part of the family, known as Aunt Jude. She outlived my grandparents, but not her family status)
      When you no longer feel able to climb to the top of the highest tree, roll down long, steep hills, walk narrow fences above a 200 foot sheer drop, or jump sharp, steep rocks, you have to make do with pretend danger: Rollercoasters.
      When I try to relax, I can’t dispel the thought of all the things I could be doing instead. Maybe some of us aren’t built for relaxation, though I wish I could find a way to remove the concrete that’s climbed from my shoulders, up my neck and into the back of my head…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh dear, your concrete issue sounds quite familiar though may not be the same. I read in your post that you spend a lot of time at your laptop – I assume sitting to type. Have you tried having your computer at standing height to type? It won’t cure the concrete (muscle rigidity?) while it’s as bad as it seems from reading that point in your comment but might begin to help. Of course you may be describing something else entirely. I’ve always found it difficult to relax by doing anything that seems like doing nothing but have had to learn how to be relaxed at rest or the stress of resting makes it no help. I still hope you find something for your number five – I also imagine some things on your list of pleasures to be relaxing, however fleeting those moments – eg essential oils and enjoyment of scents, gardening, laughing at comedy shows ๐Ÿ˜€

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