Deities vs denigration. Or how to stop dwelling on things.

I was trying to locate some pointers on rumination that I felt were suitable to my own situation, being depressed. A few behaviourally oriented ones sounded good while others went all god-dy and totally put me off. What is the point of a deity saving you after you are dead to make everything right? You’re dead then and have no life to BE good FFS!

When I read the attached account of a woman grieving for her prematurely-departed husband I thought she was making more of a hole for herself by denigrating her own worthiness as a human and potential partner. Somehow I need to steer between deities and denigration!

My concept of myself is not that bad; I think I am worthy of love, praise and comfort and I have a fair measure of each. My social network is rather lacking at the moment and I haven’t had the cheerfulness or energy to cultivate it, so I feel a bit disconnected but NOT lonely. I am quite happy with spending every day alone, my only contact with the world through my laptop or tablet. However, my social situation of 90% isolation is NOT good for curing myself of ruminating. While I don’t blame myself for being depressed currently, being alone is provocation for negative thoughts about anything. A few years ago I was able to keep my mind active with online courses and I learned some amazing stuff. Recently though I have been unable to get out of my unproductive ruminative loops in order to learn new stuff, so unfinished online courses are just more negatives that I don’t need right now.

Iceland poppies

Iceland poppies

My Mindfulness practice has helped to a certain extent but it is not strong enough to keep all my head-crap at bay all the time. Doing something active like my hobbies would be great too, but I am in the middle of a very stuck period and haven’t got past first base with several projects that are lovely in themselves. Seeing the endpoint in my mind doesn’t seem to have the push-power it should. Somehow, my unfathomable feeling that things are not “right” gets in the way. Please contribute some ideas if you have tried successfully to fix your own stuck-ness or ruminations.

Here is the woman who is down on herself in her grief:

REALITY: WHY IT IS LIKELY THAT A LIFETIME OF LONELINESS AWAITS ME.

 

When will things be RIGHT?

Over-wintering ducks

Over-wintering ducks

Hello Kind Readers (if any of you check back here),

I am in the grip of a two-year plague of procrastination and holding back from whatever I am holding back from. Somehow I am writing this, so I have now conquered a tiny section of it, inspired by commenting on Lori Stone’s piece, The hard work of fun. This was my comment on her struggles with perfectionism in everyday life:

 

  • I DO have trouble letting go and having fun! However the big block in my chakra is procrastination while in the grip of the Black Dog. Somehow the conditions for having fun – having anything at all – must be “right” before I can let go. My head is constantly full of ideas to create and see and do and learn but I can’t make myself DO anything because the conditions have not become “right”. Unlike you and your perfectionism, I don’t mind if things are out-of-line, messy, incomplete or whatever unless it’s something like driving the car or taking the correct dose of pills. But, yep, I’m having a lot of trouble having fun. When will things be “right”? 

The depression around the shortest day of Winter has been worse this year than for several years but I have been coping marginally by trying to practise some useful habits like mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, taking my pills and almost cutting out alcohol (normally I only have a few glasses of wine per week, but now I’m down to zero for a while). However I cry easily, quickly become irritated by certain people and things and spend a lot of time huddled under the quilt mindlessly playing word games on the device. I have managed to keep up with the washing, aquarobics (mostly), looking after my painful wrists, cat maintenance, preparing 50% of meals, going to Wednesday night dinners and keeping the bathroom mould at bay.

I won’t mention things I HAVEN’T managed as that would be allowing negative stuff to intrude on my achievements! I do confess to having missed one or two showers in the past three months but that’s it.

Purple haze

Purple haze

Getting down to the nitty-gritty: What is stopping me from having fun? What conditions must be met before I can let go and enjoy my time? Should I go back and have some more counseling? But I know what the psychologist would suggest and I’m obviously not getting on with the job, so – duh.

Admittedly I have had some setbacks in my life the past few years but most of them have been worked through although some could use still more effort. Lack of cash stopped being an issue a few months ago which is the best and biggest boost to life I’ve had in decades! However Spotrick says my generosity has brought more troubles upon me and that is true to a certain extent, but why are people so demanding and judgmental? Disappointment in human nature is definitely part of my current low mood although that hasn’t been the problem for long. Before that I had some big hiccups around money, with the tax department chasing me over imaginary debts and then trying to fine me thousands of dollars for not reporting my non-existent income. I also have continuing problems with my bank where they keep cutting off online access because I am too slow (apparently) inputting my security numbers (my hands are not wonderful any more). It is so frustrating and I feel so helpless because I am being “punished” for a disability. After I get cut off things snowball as creditors start contacting me for automatic debits that have ceased etc etc I just want to relax and have a life. With no job, alone all day and no family I COULD be quite OK except for these money hassles I don’t need at ANY time.

We have green winters

We have green winters

When I Tweeted about not being able to start anything,

  • I’m definitely in the wilderness again. Empty horizons in all directions. How to escape?

    @LaLegale replied:
    Rather than “escape”, create. Imagine your life as a blank tapestry, which you embroider with the things that you do every day.

But that’s exactly what I CAN’T do – my life IS a blank tapestry and I can’t make myself start the bloody embroidery. Who would want to embroider on the topic of the washing or cleaning the floor beneath the cats’ bowls?

So, sweet readers, how can I start or get some enthusiasm for the various projects I would LOVE to do including photographing stuff, getting back into film (rather than digital), sewing, knitting, and yes, tapestry; also I almost wrote the first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo last year, so when will I resume writing, blogging regularly here and on my Health for Humans blog; there are some songs to work on, bits of the garden to rejuvenate, yummy things to cook, places to visit, people I’d love to see more of, and holidays to plan?? Ideas, quick, please!

Finding richness in the shade

Finding richness in the shade

Chunks of Pi

My friends and I have been rather tardy in going to see The Life of Pi at the local cinema, but we managed it last Sunday night. I thought that the book was un-filmable, even without modern CGI effects and animatronics, but the movie was an enthralling adaptation of the book in startling 3D [we wore Clark Kent glasses].

Scene from the movie

Pi & Richard Parker

We were all very happy with it and I felt rather inspired by what I saw, which is unusual for me. For the very few who might not have read the book by Yann Martel [Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize] nor seen the recent movie, it is about a boy who finds himself alone in a lifeboat with a tiger after a ship sinks containing his fathers entire zoo exhibits.

When I first read the novel, which is quite short, I liked it OK although I didn’t think it was great. The writer seemed to go well for the first third of the book and then hit the doldrums, just like the boy in the lifeboat! To my mind the symbolic and philosophical themes didn’t seem to progress for a long interval and I was tempted to abandon ship/book. However, I knew there had to be some sort of resolution, so I went along for the ride. I was rewarded in the end and concluded that the book was an allegory of nature, growth, life and death, where the elements could each mean a number of things, depending on the mindset of the reader. I didn’t relate the themes to my life at the time, but seeing the interpretation of the book by Ang Lee (of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fame- is he getting stuck on tigers??), I felt quite touched. As said by reviewer Gary Krist in the New York Times Review of Books;

Pi understands that his own survival depends on keeping his ferocious opponent alive and well — ”because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker.”

Pi to multi decimal places

Pi, as Pi writes it on the blackboard

The film said to me “Get your tasks of necessity over with and just enjoy doing your own thing. Life won’t come back and give you another go.” That’s quite revolutionary to me at this stage of my life. For years I have been wanting to get my Masters degree and find a job in Public Health, preferably in Policy and Research because I am so drawn to them in many waking moments. However, no one has been very encouraging and I haven’t gained any jobs or scholarships to study further yet, having arrived at a sort of “fallback” position of trying for a PhD for lack of a job. I figured I could still immerse myself in the subject area even if I couldn’t work in it. With the stimulus of Pi I may be shifting my thinking to accepting I have finished my working life and settle for enjoying the crafts and hobbies I can still do with my disabled hands and wrists.

I will still need to learn to value myself and accept I am worth Spotrick supporting financially as my childhood background has almost brainwashed me into thinking I must always have an independent income. At least now I have been unemployed for many years I have somewhat forgotten what it’s like to have my own money to spend the way I wish [while keeping up my household contribution, of course]. It’s still fairly sad for me to see friends going away on holidays to places I had planned to visit before the end of my life, but I am trying to experience those things vicariously now. I have been asking my friends to take lots of photographs when they go away – photos of the places, rather than the standard touristy pix of “me in front of the Tower of London” sort! My friends are beginning to co operate, but they take a bit of flogging [you know who you are, LOL!]. I still get tears in my eyes regularly when I see places on my Bucket List on the internet, but I’m improving.

Scottish loch

Scottish loch

 

So this week could be quite influential for me and I haven’t changed my mind yet in the light of a week’s distance or reality biting.

Does this sound like a good thing? Have I missed something that’s going to wreck it all?

Comments welcome.

Here are some reviews of the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/life-of-pi/

Acknowledgements: Pi poster with multi decimal places http://hoffnermath.files.wordpress.com/2009/

Movie poster: http://theawesomer.com

 

Praise was a no-no

Child development: The right kind of early praise predicts positive attitudes toward effort.

_____________________________________________________

When I taught developmental psychology to young teacher- and childcare-trainees, I fought a losing battle most of the time trying to show them how to use praise in the best way to enhance the lives of the little ones in their charge. All the other teachers on the programs thought that you must “treasure the precious little children” by [wrongly] “boosting their self-esteem” in saying “wow, that was good” or “don’t you look gorgeous”, no matter the merit of child in any way.

This article points out where I was doing OK and they were NOT encouraging the children to try hard and put their best efforts into whatever they did. I believe the “wow, you’re wonderful” style of upbringing has resulted in generations of youngsters who won’t put in an effort, try to get by on appearance [at which many succeed & others derive much misery from], feel entitled to a good job no matter how lackadaisical their performance and are intolerant of less than perfect traits in a partner. Who knows?

As I mentioned on Google+ in response to this article, my life has been heavily influenced by getting no praise or the wrong kind when I was a little kid. I was virtually “squashed down” because apparently the “tall poppy” syndrome reigned in the 1950s. I can only remember a few instances where I was praised for any achievement, and this was by school teachers or other kids’ parents. As an adult [in years, maybe not in mind!], I have not usually tried very hard at most things, because I achieved most things as a kid by just turning up and doing. No one will believe me, but I got into med school that way- however, lack of effort after being ill for a long time probably made me drop out, where I might have been able to cope with some coaching and support for a while.

Kids I went to school with apparently often tried to topple me from the top of the class, but, not having put any effort in myself, I didn’t notice their frustrated efforts! Therefore, I didn’t congratulate them or praise them either because I hadn’t experienced it myself. These days I sometimes chat on Facebook to some of these old friends and discover how “victorious” some of them felt when they topped me at something and how some of them were jealous of my performance/”marks”, disliking me as consequence. It all seems so trivial now, but THEY have mostly succeeded in life with good jobs and happy families, whereas I am long term unemployed with a still “itchy” mind!

So, from many years of experience and contemplation I would say to parents “Be alert to your children’s achievements in every sphere and give them plenty of praise about the way they achieve.” My idea would be to teach kids as many things as you can quite deliberately so they don’t have to make so many mistakes along the road to becoming adults themselves. Teach them about praise too, once they are old enough to get the idea, and they will become sought after companions in life for their peers. Show children how to do things and don’t keep saying “No not that way” and correcting them – let them work through and discover for themselves the best methods once you have shown them, except when it’s dangerous, eg. diving off the high board!

Surely I might be happier and healthier now, maybe even suitably employed if I had been able to build on a solid basis of feeling competent and autonomous when I was learning to become human. I’m working on it.

It is a genuine dilemma in this age of new-fangled “molecular” drugs, that some seem to work very well during their first human trials, but we have to wait years to get them to the public.
Of course there is massive cost to consider in some cases, but I don’t know about eteplirsen. Public health advocates can have a terrible time deciding if a few people can have an expensive drug vs. a lot of people getting a cheap one. For instance, how many doses of polio vaccine would you trade for one of eteplirsen? These are the realities of government budgets. I wouldn’t like to do it, would you?

 

Health & Family

Austin and Max Leclaire are brothers. Austin is older, Max is younger. Like most siblings, they have many things in common and just as many that set them apart. For now, though, their strongest bond is over something they share — Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most common lethal genetic disorder among children. Duchenne’s hallmark is increasing muscle weakness that eventually makes it hard to breathe and confines kids to wheelchairs, which is where Austin finds himself these days. Now 14, he lost the ability to walk four years ago, a development that helps explain why the disease looks so different in the two brothers today.

Because Max, 11, was still able to put one foot in front of another in the summer of 2011, he was eligible to enroll in a drug trial for Eteplirsen, which is designed for children like the Leclaire brothers who have trouble producing a protein…

View original post 1,502 more words

Would you call an ambulance?

Yesterday we traveled with some friends for lunch at Angas Plains Winery, south of Adelaide. As we set off the weather was mild and quite a few children’s fluffy clouds drifted across the sky. We anticipated a warm, leisurely time under the open verandah at our destination, being plied with tapas-style food and rich red wine. Lovely.

Well, we did eventually enjoy our lunch, but were interrupted repeatedly by something rather bizarre and frankly scary!

As we started our first bottle of wine and ordered our food I saw a couple entering the verandah area, the woman apparently frail and leaning on her much larger companion’s arm. This wasn’t particularly alarming, but then suddenly the male companion was on the ground! I watched as several people rushed over to them and discovered the man must have either passed out for a second or had tripped and bumped his head on a deck chair. They seemed to have things under control, seating the man and woman and moving a table to them for their meal. Apparently the couple were from Berlin in Germany and had driven a hire car from Sydney, NSW over the past ten days, planning on leaving from Adelaide in four more days time.

We got to eating and enjoying ourselves again, suitably distracted from the upset and trying not to have an argument about climate change! Our food selection involved some fantastic sourdough bread, gleaming gold olive oil and a very tasty homemade dukkah. This was followed by a selection of prawn & spice dim sum, some chorizo, chicken & chili kebabs and spannakopita (spinach & ricotta in filo pastry triangles). We succumbed to dessert later, despite having vowed to avoid it as a health hazard!

However, our meal was interrupted again by the wobbly German couple attempting to depart. Sure enough, as soon as the guy stood up, he keeled over. He managed to collapse in a sitting position this time, but skinned both his arms, tore his finger tips and nails on the left and I soon noticed some blood seeping through the knee of his trousers. A crowd of helpers gathered around and managed to keep him seated against the big barn door there as I tried to get some info from the couple. First, I asked the woman if her husband’s medication had been changed recently. “No” she said, “not for years”. [!!] I asked if he was on medication for hypertension, his heart or his balance and I don’t think her English was up to it. She just told me “It’s his diabetes. He’s always falling over. That’s how he is”. So I just told her they ought to take him back to the doctor when they reached home, silently thinking I should really call an ambulance, as the guy looked deathly pale and didn’t seem able to speak.

After cleaning his wounds and staying with the couple a while, the guy wanted to stand up and get in their car, but it was parked about 100metres away in a gravel-covered carpark. This was hopeless, so I got the woman to give the car keys to Spotrick to bring the car right over near the door. After helping the guy sit in the car and recover [??] his faculties, we left them to it, sitting down again to resume our meal.

As soon as the hire car took off, we could all see (and hear) that the guy had left the handbrake on!! He slowed & stopped before attempting to turn left and out of the carpark and we all heaved a sigh of relief that he had discovered his oversight.

But ohs noez!! He roared off again, rear wheels stationary and dragging behind the car, gravel spitting everywhere from the front tyres! Suddenly I was off after them, breaking the world land speed record in my inadequate strappy sandals! I got abreast of the driver’s window, waving my arms and yelling “Stop! Stop!”. For what seemed like ages, he continued to force the car along, speeding up! I found a further burst of acceleration myself and managed to run a bit ahead of him, catching his attention with my flailing arms! 

Phew! He stopped and rolled down the window. I told him & made gestures with my hands to snap off the handbrake and he realised his mistake and drove off OK.

Should I have called an ambulance?

I really thought about calling the ambos as none of us thought that man was safe to drive, but he wasn’t drunk so the manager couldn’t take his car keys legally and I can imagine the fiery reaction! Probably the couple were dead scared that the guy would be hospitalised in Australia where he couldn’t speak the language and no one knew his medical history. His wife was not brave enough to attempt to drive here on the “wrong” side of the road though I think I would have been tempted in her position. Neither person seemed to have any idea that the guy was suffering multiple medical problems besides a bit of Type 2 diabetes and seemed never to have heard the words “hypertension” or “high blood pressure” in English anyway.

I hope they get safely back to Germany, without needing a stretcher and oxygen on the plane! Scary stuff.

What will keep me going in 2013?

Just gathering my wits at the moment to make a blog post. I managed to get through 2012 with a few wobbles in the middle surrounding mis-haps in the arts and the inability to intervene in the fate of a beautiful cat. Around Christmas things were better than the previous year due to a win in the arts, brought swiftly to earth by an abrasive encounter at a pre-Christmas party.

On the upside, I managed to recover from the abrasive encounter with the support of dear friends and family, plus juggling my pills and vitamins! Currently I feel pretty good and I’ll do my best to continue along this trajectory.

Several things lying around the house (never tidy, but usually not a pigsty) have reminded me that reading has been a good tonic in the past, so I am glad to have a large pile of reading to look forward to this year too. Sonia Faleiro‘s book Beautiful Thing. Portrait of a Bombay bar dancer, is still sitting on the edge of the coffee table, reminding me how surprisingly moving some books can be. I was captivated by this tale of the knife-edge existence of a young woman with the “ambition” to be a genuine dancer, not just a roughly used barmaid. Convinced that her life was quite positive compared to others in India, she made me realise how different circumstances shape different personalities and how everyone has their own frame for their dreams of a “better life”.

While there is nothing in my “to-read” pile that promises to be as inspiring as that book, there are plenty that will keep me occupied with mayhem and mystery!  eg. Michael Connelly‘s The Black Box. He’s always a good read.

Spotrick gave me for Christmas a little book of poems titled I Could Pee on This and other poems by cats.(Author Francesco Marciuliano). On the cover is a cheeky ginger & white kitten who looks similar to our Bendix. The contents are hilarious and are good cheer-ups if I’m feeling a bit meh. Here’s the beginning of “Unbridled love”:
I knead your chest with my sharp claws
To show you my affection
I bite your arm and don’t let go
To show you adoration…

That is sooo characteristic although I wish there was something I could do about the biting! My forearms sometimes get gory teeth-marks from those “adoring” chomps- ye-owww.

I could pee on that

I could pee on that

Books are generally for bedtime reading for me, whereas I often get occupied with online courses during the day while Spotrick is at work. While in 2012 I was finishing my Masters degree, with that merely needing some corrections this month, I’ll have more time to concentrate on other things. Last year I did some online courses through EdX and Coursera including “Listening to World Music”, and “HarvardX: PH207x Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical & Public Health Research” , gaining course credits that could be used in real life if I wanted that. Several other courses I sampled, but didn’t complete formal assessment were Computing for Data Analysis (4 weeks of learning to progam in R), CalTech‘s Machine Learning and Community Models of Public Health . I have just started “Economics for Scientists”  as I think it will help me understand more about health economics and the political economy of health, with the hope of enrolling for a PhD connected with those later in the year.

Incidentally, I was stunned to hear of the death of the man who practically invented the “political economy of health” . Gavin Mooney was murdered in Tasmania, along with his second wife Del Weston, whose son from a previous marriage is being held in connection with their cruel slaying. I only met Gavin late last year at a seminar and he seemed a great believer in making the best health facilities available to the most disadvantaged people. He was a lovely guy, and was obviously held in very high regard by people throughout the community as seen by the tributes in Melissa Sweet’s Croakey blog.

Not ruminating about things like the previous paragraph is something I have to develop this year and I have become sufficiently motivated (I think) to get back to some of my art & craft activities, like knitting and quilting. I meant to make some cushions for several friends for Christmas, but time flew by too fast while I was finishing off the degree. Though Christmas is almost a distant memory, I’ll keep going on the cushion project, starting with a log cabin pattern in greens for a friend who has an unusual green leather lounge suite.

Green theme

Green theme

These fabrics are in the mix and I am putting my new electric scissors to work cutting the strips just right as my wrists and thumbs are wrecked for working with manual ones.

There’s a lot of fabric hanging around here that needs to be made into clothing as well, but I’ve been very slack on the sewing for many years- I can’t get moving on it. This year I’ll get out some projects and see what happens- maybe inspiration will stay with me for a while. I really like these bright, lightweight cottons for making summer dresses and tops:

The garden is starting to look more lush than it has since we moved in, largely due to Spotrick’s efforts in tidying up old plants and pots. I’ve also been blitzing the plants with plenty of fertiliser and misting water under the larger ones on hot days. My ambition is to almost obscure the courtyard walls!

 

Book Banquet 2012

Shai Coggins’ blog reminded me that I have read quite a pile of books this year that I should list, even if just for myself. If you have read any of these and have an opinion, please comment!

  1. Nonfiction. Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society Will Hutton. This book applies equally well to the Australian scene since the Global Financial Crisis and is a big influence on how I now view the political economy of public health.
  2. Nonfiction. David Harvey. The Enigma of Capital: and the Crises of Capitalism. This book was the basis of a pre-conference workshop on the Political Economy of Health before the international Public Health Association meeting in Adelaide in September 2012. It convinced me that I’m on the right track with my lack of capitalism in its present form ever leading to fairness in the distribution of resources compatible with good health in a nation. All capitalism depends on gambling that the small amounts of money held by “lesser” people can be collected together by crooks on the stock market to increase the large amounts held by people who consider themselves “the bosses” of the rest of us. It can’t keep happening as eventually the poor run out of resources, get angry and disrupt the system, or the rich find there is little value in their cash because workers are not producing anything more for them to buy with it. They can then either stockpile wealth to absolutely no avail or start financing jobs for the unemployed so the economy can start moving again. Have I convinced you? Anyway, I could rave about this forever, knowing absolutely nothing about economics!
  3. Jo Nesbo The Redbreast. A horrific Scandinavian thriller, as are the next four.
  4. Jo Nesbo The Leopard
  5. Jo Nesbo The Devil’s Star
  6. Jo Nesbo The Snowman. These are so well-written I couldn’t put them down.
  7. Henning Mankell The Troubled Man. Detective Kurt Wallander has turned sixty and thinks he is succumbing to the dementia that ended his own father’s life. Meanwhile he is struggling to help solve the mystery of a murdered naval officer.
  8. Peter Hoeg The Quiet Girl. Odd but thrilling, with a young girl kept apart from others by an apparently obscure group of “nuns”, helped by a strange Bach-loving clown. There are touches of magical realism about the tale but it all hangs together in the end
  9. Camilla Läckberg The Ice Princess: The body of crime writer Erica Falck’s childhood friend is discovered, wrists slashed, in an ice cold bath. Was it murder or suicide? The investigation leads her to a community on the brink of tragedy.
  10. Camilla Läckberg The Preacher: Twenty years ago, two young women disappeared in Fjällbacka – now their remains are found, along with a new victim. As Patrik Hedström works to solve these murders, do the dark secrets of a local family hold the key?
  11. Camilla Läckberg The Stonecutter: When a little girl is found in a fisherman’s net, the police realize it was no accidental drowning. Patrik Hedström investigates the death of a child both he and Erica knew well.
  12. Hakan Nesser – but can’t remember the title- think it’s different in Australia than the USA. But it’s another crime thriller.
  13. Yrsa Sigurdardottir Last Rituals Set in Reykjavík, this thriller concerns the murder of a student who appears to have odd symbols carved into his chest linked to ancient folk tales.
  14. Martin Walker Black Diamond. Policeman “Bruno” Benoit Couregges is on the trail of truffle merchants who are rigging the price of their expensive finds in French provincial markets.
  15. Martin Walker  The Crowded Grave. I loved the description of the French countryside in this mystery about a modern murder victim concealed at an archeological dig against the suspicion of local cross-border terrorism.
  16. Non-fiction. Ted Nield Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet. About the history of the major tectonic plates that cover the earth and how we can see the ancient links between them by matching the minerals and landforms at the break-apart sites.
  17. Non-fiction. Simon Winchester Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms & a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. I skipped most of the battles etc. & concentrated on the accounts of how the Atlantic is being widened by the upwelling of volcanoes along the mid-continental ridge and the currents that carry whole species to unusual destinations on its shores.
  18. Nonfiction. Richard Dawkins. The Ancestors’ Tale. This gave me a really clear view of evolution by tracing the origins of all living species back to where they branched off from their closest genetic relative on the evolutionary tree. The explanations for the sometimes bizarre separations of different species or varieties of animals and plants from each other by geological changes, such as continental drift and tectonic plates and climate change are quite revelatory as well. One of the best books on genetic evolution I’ve ever read- much better than all the ones that start with a single cell and come from past to present!
  19. Geraldine Brooks Caleb’s Crossing. The Pulitzer Prize Winner’s novel of early America- Caleb is the first Native American to attend Harvard University, after being brought up quite traditionally on the site of modern day Martha’s Vineyard.
  20.  Lars Kepler The Nightmare. Detective Inspector Joona Linna investigates the recovery of a young woman’s body from an abandoned yacht drifting around the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, and the forensics team is sure that she drowned. Why, then, is the pleasure boat still afloat, and why are there no traces of water on her clothes or body? The story involves international conspiracy and crime on a horrific scale, not easily relatable to the original death.

You can see by this selection that I’m a great fan of modern Scandinavian crime fiction, the history of the planet and the relationship of economics to health- what a weird mix  eh?! What’s your mix look like?

 

A simple glass of water

Only too well I know how distractible I am when my mood is not topnotch. To illustrate, let me tell you the saga of my attempt to get a glass of water to wash down my lunch of almonds and fresh fruit.

1. Into the kitchen I go. The devil kitty (Ms Moustiers Ste Marie, “don’t mess with me”, toothless, 21 years old and chief Demand-0-Cat) yowls for food; I fed her half a dish of chicken about 15 minutes ago.

2. Searching on the sink for the rinsed catfood spoon, I discover it has been left dirty, so I wash it.

3. I have to find a new container of catfood in the pantry.

4. Feed kitty.

5. Notice that last nights debris has not been sorted, parceled and sent bin-wards.

6. Wrap two lots of discards & recyclables.

Fantasy in the backyard

Fantasy in the backyard

7. Take rubbish to bins, which have been left in the drive from yesterdays garbage collection run (just rubbish & metal/glass/paper recyclables, not green recyclables).
8. Go into garage to dispose of green waste.

9. Of course I noticed while out the front that I had parked the car on a tiny sliver of garden hose sticking out from the garden bed. Must shift it.

10. Into the house, fetching the car keys & promptly yowled at by THAT cat again.

11. Move car- get out, lock it. Still parked it on another piece of hose.

12. Two more car moves, including out onto the street; at last nothing is caught under the wheels.

13. Re-inflate squashed hose by running high-power jet through it for 30 seconds.

14. Back inside, feed kitty again.

15. Get clean glass, fill with tap water.

16. Sit down again,

 

Folding towels sucks

I can’t believe that folding a towel & 6 tea towels made both wrists go click & hurt enough to draw tears. Grand Theft Suckage!

That was the last straw for today. Having already delivered the recharged laptop next door (they got loaned a Macbook Air without a charger- duh…), fed the cats, put on a load of washing, Swiffed the floors of cat hair, made cups of tea and taken daily pills, I was just revving up to clearing the local pigsty, since Spotrick is ill & all.

Itsobvious

Its obvious

So the rugs will have to stay hairy, the bedroom piled with boxes exchanging summer clothes for winter, the washing stalled before Spotrick’s work clothes are washed, the dishwasher unemptied from yesterday, the fishy plastic bag stuck in the sink clogging up the drain, the dirty dishes from last night and breakfast festooned over the kitchen, the cat food strewn over the kitchen floor & the bathroom not subjected to it’s weekly super-sprucing, the snail pellets not distributed around the tree dahlia, the kangaroo paws not planted in the front garden, the pillowcases not changed for 4 weeks, the hedgetrimmer not bought from the hardware store (so the hedge is untrimmed so the clothes can’t hang on half the line), the bins not put out for 2 weeks due to WTF and…and…and.

I’m taking the rest of the day off. SOD everything & I’m having peanut M&Ms for lunch.