It's probably just a feature of middle age but I've been obsessed lately with thoughts of permanence, profound happiness, love, and the true meaning of life. And also hot water pastry. Because it's deeply connected to at least two of those things.

I discovered hot water pastry on our last trip to the UK, especially our swing through Cornwall. They make a mean pot pie there, let me tell you. And it's made with hot water pastry. Which I had never, in 45 (and a bit) full years on Mothership Earth, heard of.

You bet I googled. And found recipes. And yes I've been trying them (currently working on this one). And learning very valuable lessons, such as "boiling lard bubbles and when a bubble lands on the hand it burns". But also that pastry making is hard for me. Not a natural, you could say.

So I work harder at it. Because filing my house with happy cooking smells and wonderful food is something I must do.

Which led me to ponder the difference between the things I have to do and the things I must do. The main difference being that the things I must do are those which, absent me doing them, would not happen, making the world poorer as a result.

The things I have to do are basically the requests that come from the outside world, from those who - while they matter because every human being matters - don't rank as high as my children and the few folks I love, in my priority list of people for whom I sacrifice my precious time.

Filling my babies' tummies with lovingly made delicious food is something that if I didn't do it, they'd grow up without. They would be missing those memories. And I believe those memories are important so I work to create them.

My writing is in the same category - well, OK, maybe the world wouldn't miss it. But I'd burst if I didn't let it out of my system. So I guess it counts as a priority. As do the books and documentaries I produce with my husband.

The job offers that come in for translation work? I don't think the world would miss them one bit. So I decline them. Ditto writing columns about how much I don't like politicians. You already know I do.

Yeah, sure, one must pay the bills. But one must also trust that when one focuses on doing the things one must do, it eventually pays off. And working on those documentaries and books with John, which we finance through crowdfunding, is helping a great deal keeping us afloat. No, it's not making us rich. But we're not in it to get rich. We just need enough money to pay the bills and - ideally - put a little bit aside for rainy days. (If you're itching to help us, this is our current project for which we are still raising funds. Or you could become a patron here - warning, those particular pledges are in US dollars.)

Focusing on what I must do and trusting that it will all work out is what I am determined to do, burning lard and all.