Updates, roses, and home

I’ve been feeling pretty bad since Thursday.  For a while, I thought I was coming down with something, and then this morning, I remembered: I felt a lot like this back when I first went back on metformin several months ago.

It eased over a couple of weeks and I’m sure it will again.

It’s funny how much less sick I feel just knowing what’s causing the problem. I will adjust to the poison again and then I will feel almost fine – enough so that I will be able to adjust to the “new normal”.

If at some point it controls my blood sugar, it will have been worth it. (My blood sugar control continues to worsen, even on the original dose of metformin. I wish I knew why.)

Anyway, that’s why my blogging has become sporadic lately. Between feeling tired and cranky … and having many holiday cards to prepare in the next two weeks, it’s been hard to think of anything new to say.

I am working on a couple of longer posts, but I think that’s going to require more intellectual energy than I currently have.

So, in the meanwhile…pretty roses.  Roses bloom all year here, but they are really going for it as summer solstice approaches.

Roses always remind me of my grandmother.  She had a rose bush in her front yard and she taught me to make rose jelly with cinnamon, and she brought cuttings into the house and made the house smell wonderful!

Roses make me very happy. I hadn’t really registered it consciously when we looked at this place in midwinter, but the house is surrounded by pink, red, yellow, and orange roses. They line the front yard on three sides and there are several more bushes in the back yard.  That is probably part of why this “felt like home” so immediately. The house itself dates to my childhood and hasn’t been updated much, so while it’s not the same as the (much older) homes I knew as a child, it still feels familiar and the roses make it feel a bit like Grandma’s home did when I was little.

I still haven’t done much with the garden boxes…the potatoes that came over from Karen’s with them are going gangbusters but I haven’t had the energy to get more soil and supplements, so I have been putting off planting.  Fortunately, there is always something to plant in this climate.

Crafting Thursday

Every Thursday, Rod’s sister, Karen, and I get together to spend a couple of hours crafting.  Often, it’s card making, but sometimes she crochets and sometimes I work on another craft project.

We’ve been doing that since November of 2015 and I have come to count on our quiet sessions.

There’s no reason we couldn’t craft at other times, but both Karen and I have found that we don’t.  There are always “more pressing” things to take care of and since neither of us has a dedicated crafting space,  crafting requires hauling everything out and putting everything away. Usually we don’t find that we have the time for all that unless we schedule it. What better way to schedule it than planning for good company to turn up?

With Karen’s help to make crafting a focus, I find that before I ever really “got started”, I have almost half of my holiday cards started.

I also have a collection of “spare” cards for thank you notes, condolence notes, and other unexpected times when a hand made card is a nice touch. I even have one “spare” birthday card – something i discovered was a very good idea a couple of years ago when an injury meant that I couldn’t craft for six weeks – going into a busy birthday period for our family!  Of course, I had nothing in my “stash” because I prefer to make cards specifically for each person.

I’m very grateful that my online crafting community stepped in to make sure I had the most important cards for the grandchildren whose birthdays I would otherwise have missed, but that incident made it clear to my that having some spares around is a very, very good precaution. I still prefer to make cards specifically for my loved ones, but when I can’t, now I needn’t miss their birthdays entirely.

Anyway, my holiday card list is very short this year so I should be done by December1.

Postage is prohibitively expensive on our current budget, but it gives me a lot of joy to reach out to folks who are important to me.  I wish I could afford to reach out to everyone I used to, but this will have to do.

New Volunteer Opportunity

Since I left The Ministry of Food, I have been looking for a new volunteer opportunity. It needed to be close to home and not too structured, which was pretty limiting.
About nine months ago, The Farm Next Door opened its doors a couple of blocks from my house and announced Community Work Days every Tuesday.  I was interested, but I’m not much use at heavy lifting, so I waited and watched.

Then a couple of weeks ago, Lochey and Amrit, from the Farm, helped us to move my new garden boxes over from Wenche and Karen’s place to our place, and so I turned up the next day to see what an old lady could do to help.

The short answer is, not as much as I had hoped, but I am learning a great deal about gardening in this climate and have a good time, so I intend to continue.  My stamina isn’t up to keeping up with young folks for three hours a week, so I stay for one hour unless there is something I can actually help with.

They’re a great group of young folks and I’m glad to be making a contribution to my community, however limited.  Even better, starting in December, they’re going to open a “you pick” vegetable market!  Wow!

Crafting …

I have continued to play with scissors and glue, and have a great time.

And watching Wandering Dreamer’s videos has tempted me to try my hand at a crafting post, but as blog posts, a la Split Coast Stampers since I have no clue how the videos are done and the very idea is intimidating.

The catch is, I don’t do anything all that remarkable.  When I do, the idea is lifted from somewhere, so it’s not really mine to explain.  And I don’t think all that many of my readers would be interested.

I probably will anyway, for the experience…and because EP has encouraged me.  :p (It’s your doing EP, my friend!) 😉

Sunday Outing!

Rod and jack: artists at work

Amongst the artefacts on the esplanade.

Having a bit of a rest.

Did someone say coffee?

an eye for detail.

Just about done.

Artists in consultation

The fellas and I went on a lovely Sunday afternoon photo walk yesterday. I will be using most of the photos in future posts, but these are my favourites!

I have a longer, hopefully more interesting post, about our sustainability lifestyle, in the works, but it’s turning out to be bigger than I had imagined.

Family food cultures

Last night, having bored myself stupid with the same old same old for months, I decided to make Gulumpkis for dinner last night. Polish cabbage rolls are a lot of work and I make them very rarely.  When I am craving the flavours, I generally just make it up as a cabbage casserole.

Mine didn’t turn out all that amazing last night.  That’s the problem, I suppose, with making a recipe so seldom.  It’s been so long between times that I forget the details and have to look it up again. so I rarely make it the same way twice, and I never get really good at it.

Or maybe I was just craving my mother’s recipe (I really should ask her for it.).  She made it amazingly often considering that she had eight mouths to feed and it’s a long slow process, but it was always a special occasion for me because I loved it.

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Hobbies

I am in absolutely no danger of ever being bored.

I am, however, also in no danger of ever catching up or keeping up with my hobbies.  I have enough to keep me busy for several lifetimes.

I keep picking them up for a while, and then putting them down to focus on something else. It means never really getting really good at any of them, because I don’t stick with anything long enough.

I love photography. This blog gives me incentive to stick with it and practice often enough to have something to distinguish one post from another, but I don’t focus as much as I need to to ever get as excellent as my photography friends.

I love paper crafting.  Thanks to Karen, I do practice that every week…and I have enough children and grandchildren and friends to keep me in permanent production of birthday cards.  If I didn’t limit my self to two hours per week and if I paid more attention to what other crafters are doing, my technique could improve considerably, though.

I love studying and using herbs. That flits in an out of focus pretty fast, though, and while I am intrigued I will never be an expert.

I love gardening, and with living things depending on me, I’d better focus on it. But in a world of four season gardening, I’m going to have to work on staying focused year round. But keeping a garden alive in a very new to me climate is proving kind of challenging.

I love reading books.  That got dropped for years on end when my children were small, but I find that I can tuck bits of reading in here and there in my day, so I think that’s back. It doesn’t make a mess, like crafting, so I can devote the ten minutes I have over lunch or on the bus. (Especially when I read my own books and so can carry them everywhere while I read them.  They get too battered to do that with library or borrowed books, so they go more slowly.)

I adore cooking…and oddly enough, the problem there is the relentlessness of the routine. I was a great deal more adventurous when Rod did most of the cooking. Now that I cook almost every day, I have gotten boring.  I do the same thing with minor variations. I suppose that I should ‘schedule” time once a week to explore new recipes, lest I bore myself stupid.

I have the supplies for a half dozen other crafts – fabric dying, painting, decoupage, and more.

Oh well.  If you can’t die until you’re done, I should be good for centuries.

Hackers

Just received a threatening e-mail from a self proclaimed hacker.

It’s possible I will disappear, if it’s more than empty threats. Even if I had $1000, i wouldn’t use it to reward a thief. :p

Just so you know.

Speaking voice

I meet a lot of stroke survivors at the Barwon Stroke Centre and they all, (bar one that I know) share one thing in common. They all feel the need to be heard, myself very much included.

The most compelling reason for many survivors is that stroke brings us face-to-face with death. It changes our lives completely.

Having survived that experience no fewer than 4 times myself is something that I feel everyone needs to hear about.

One real problem I face is a reduced ability to speak clearly. Now as many of you are aware, I can speak and make myself understood, but that is a different thing to being able to speak, off the cuff, with confidence.

I will share a video which I recorded back in 2010 long before a stroke took my ability to speak.

I will then share my ‘survivor snapshot’, a summary of how I got to be where I am.

This is designed to give you, the reader, a visceral understanding of why it presents a challenge to me.

I hope that the Barwon Stroke Centre will introduce a public speaking group so that folks who struggle with verbal expression can get help, and folks like me who just want to improve on what they have, can do so without undue expense.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_umRvFPTPY&t=61s

It has been 4 years so far, I still have a fair way to go. I hope that, with practice, I can get back to speaking well.

And – they’re in!

On Monday, Lochie and Amrit from The Farm Next Door came over and with Jack they moved both the the garden beds from Karen’s place to ours – and to my amazement, they even reassembled them!

They’re in!!

It’s amazing how fast three strapping young men could make that magic happen! They arrived at 10am, and by just after noon, they were essentially done.

I was delighted that they were even careful enough to salvage some of Wenche’s potato plants. The plants were, of course, traumatised by the movement and then several weeks in bags of soil, and then movement again – but we’ll see.  We kept some seed potatoes, too, just in case.

Jack, watering his potato patch

Jack will be in charge of the potatoes, and I will take the other bed.  (I may eventually push his potatoes to one end, when I figure out what else I want the other half a bed for.)

Meanwhile, I am starting some seed that I have saved from particularly nice vegetables we’ve had.  I’ll start the various pumpkin (winter squash) seeds this week, and will start the capsicum (sweet pepper) seeds when it gets a little warmer.

I am SO excited!

Updates

Ahhh, the last of my Grandma Letters for October has gone out!  (Yes, it is November.  I have had to make my peace with “one per month” being a rather vague suggestion rather than a deadline.) Some months just don’t work out.

The most exciting news is that my garden boxes should come home tomorrow morning! It’s been a long slow process, but I can hardly wait to get them set up!

I have also realised that they can solve our “compost problem” for a while.  We can empty the compost bin into the bottom and cover it with dirt!

That gives us a fresh start on the overfull compost bins and another six months to figure out what to do with our far too plentiful food scraps.  I have cut the scraps down significantly by taking the scraps chickens like over to the Norlane Farm next Door, about a mile away, and by tossing the spent herbs , eggs shells, and coffee grounds onto unused garden beds in hopes of slowly down grass incursion, but we’re still filling the bin with citrus peels and onion and garlic skins in about six months.
I really should learn more about efficient composting, but so far it hasn’t come to the top of the priority list.

I’ve been pondering lately whether I have come to the end of my options. Whether I have come to the period of my life when if I haven’t made the dream come true, it’s never going to happen.

I am significantly older than some of my recent ancestors ever got. I am nearing the age when most of the rest died. I retired from the workforce about four years ago and circumstances mean I can’t work outside the home for the foreseeable future. Most of my dreams involve money, either for travel to see my grandchildren or to ‘own’ a little piece of the planet. My options appear to be limited and narrowing.

And yet, I feel (inflammatory aches and pains aside) too young to get old yet. If funds were sufficient, I could have the medication that is causing the inflammation compounded and feel even younger.

There are many stories of people achieving dreams in later life. I have decided to be one of them. I have no idea how I’m going to make it happen, but my eyes are open and my antennae attuned.  When the opportunity presents itself, I’m ready to do the work. I still have good decades ahead of me!

Meanwhile, I am quite content with my life as it is – I am really enjoying nesting and caring for my family.  I just can’t bear the thought of never seeing my older children and grandchildren (and one day, great grandchildren) again.

Forgetting

To JMM, an old friend

25 April 2010

Night is coming.
I can see it in how seldom the light shines in your eyes,
and in how insistently the Earth reaches out to pull you to Her.

As we feel the darkness encroaching,
those of us who love you
come together to create a net
to carry you on our backs as your wings fail.
Not that you might fly again,
but that your landing be soft and sweet

You joke about calling a hearse to help you move to the table for a meal.
You tell me that you spent half of last week in England.
You don’t remember much, you say,
but you know you were happy there.
You didn’t want to come back.

I say to you, “Remembering doesn’t matter.
You were happy, and that’s what matters.”

You weren’t in England, of course. It was a dream.
A dream of a time when you could run like the wind,
when you could remember the words to write beautiful poetry.
When you moved through the kitchen, another of your domains, to feed your loved ones.

You didn’t want to come back to this time and place
where your home, your body, your mind are a prison.
Where good times and bad are forgotten so quickly that days become a blur of dissatisfaction.

You’re telling me, I know, that you’re making plans to “go to England”.
To leave behind this world that has become a prison.
To come again in a body that can run like the wind and a mind that again misses nothing.

You who were always there to hold a hand in the rough times, with calm insights and soothing reassurance to anyone in pain.
Now, I spread my wings and I hold you, until we reach the ground.

My tears are for my own loss.
Night is coming.
I will miss the sun of your love and friendship.

***
Samhain 2014

And the years have passed.

One by one, I watched as your supports fell away,
wearied by the passage of time, wearied by the slow fall.
Until finally, it was those who love you best who remained.
Pillars against the night, rooted in love.

Now, the deepest darkness encroaches,
I see the shades from the North and the West,
the souls of your beloved dead, come
to midwife your soul to the summerland.

Still you wait.
Still your soul watches from your too long stricken,
silent body. The time is near,
but not yet. The last of the loved ones hasn’t come to say goodbye.

As the family gathers, dear friend, I come silently,
intangibly, to say my final farewells. Here, where there is only you and me.
I have loved you, dear friend, for many years.
That will never change.

My tears are for my own loss.
Winter is coming.
I will miss the sun of your love and friendship.

(c) 2014 Misti Anslin Delaney Smith

Photography

Happy Samhain/Beltaine, everyone!!

I have not being doing all that well with photography this winter. I’ve been pondering why that is.

Part of it is sheer laziness with finding subjects.

Part of it is that because it’s so small, our house is hard to photograph – and the light in the parlour is not all that beautiful.

Actually, it’s pretty dark. Now, that’s an excellent challenge to tackle, but…tackling a challenge requires energy and confidence. Something that has been in short supply this winter.

I have taken a fair few photos in our beautifully lit kitchen…but the kitchen isn’t all that beautifully decorated so I haven’t found a great deal to share.

However, a few weeks ago, I found this list of stock photos on Pip’s blogging course. On a day that was too cold and wet to go out adventuring, Rod, Jack, and I pulled out our cameras and started with the list for inspiration. Actually, I’m not sure how many of the suggestions we actually used, because once we started with the assignment to “make stock photos that illustrate our world”, we were busy for almost an hour!  I’ll be revisiting the list again when I start to get low on ideas again. I had been away from the caera for long enough that the quality isn’t what I wish it were for most of them, but it’s a start.

I also found another free online photography course, so I signed up.  I need the inspiration of assignments for a while.

With The Garden Project: Step One completed, I hope to use the “free” time to lure the guys out for more portraits soon. Portraits are always my favourite.

Garden box progress – the end of step one!

Sorry to have been away for a bit.

The dread spring cold that had been annoying me for weeks won for a few days and stringing two thoughts together and expressing them in writing simply wasn’t going to happen.

Getting started

And then we had a big project over the weekend. (And the grandma letters are again overdue and have to go out this week.)

Anyway, the big news is that on Sunday, just as we started to feel better, we were finally all free to get the last of the soil bagged.

There wasn’t a great deal of soil left, but after years it had become compacted. Hard work.

There wasn’t a great deal left, but it was compacted from years of sitting under the heavy top layers.

Finally finished

That meant that the guys had to attack it with sharp implements before we could sweep and shovel our way through it to get it into bags.

Truth be told, through this whole process, while we worked alongside him and at no point did we abandon Jack to the task, he still ended up doing the lion’s share of the work.

And now…to get it moved.

For every bag that Karen. Rod, and I filled, Jack filled three bags.  I hate to think how long this project would have taken without him.

The next step is to get the garden beds and soil moved over to our place, 4 km away.

However that won’t be as easy as it should be.  The feed bags are just this side of too heavy to move – however the big plaid bags are far too heavy and will need to be emptied into feed bags, which means that we have to do the move in shifts. The garden boxes and the feed bags can go in one shift, but they have to be assembled and the feed bags emptied and brought back and refilled, and then we’ll need another truckload moved.

As you can see, some of Mormor’s amazing potato plants are thriving despite the abuse.  This is excellent, because Jack will be having a go at growing potatoes as soon as we get all this settled.

Whew!

 

Updates

Keeping up with mystery boxes

We have been ordering Magic Meadow Mystery Boxes for several month now.

Mystery boxes are similar to what I think of as CSA boxes – an assortment of seasonal vegetables (and fruit, if you order that box).  (Except, of course, that we can order as we go from Magic Meadows.) You never know quite what you will get in each week’s box, so it’s an ongoing challenge to stay flexible in my cooking routines.

At first, staying so flexible in my cooking was extremely tiring, and I lost some of the early vegetables because I couldn’t get to them in time. (Especially greens and winter squash, which I’m not accustomed to using in such quantities.)  Of course, I was stupidly topping up at the local greengrocer to get “the usual” (but not in season) vegetables that I had come to depend on since I took over the cooking back in 2015.

More recently, I have refused to do that and have just been making whatever we have work.  I am still slow to use all the amazing variety of greens we get in our boxes, but I am doing MUCH better. I also order boxes that don’t have greens until all the greens are gone.

It’s hard work, but it’s far more nourishing than using the same vegetables in and out of season, month after month after year.  I have even learned about new vegetables that I never would have picked up on my own – most recently, fresh broad beans (also called fava beans).

Adventures in blood sugar

I am still in the midst of the great blood sugar experiment.

In testing so often over so long, I am starting to see patterns again and understand maybe why my blood sugar has gone wonky.

Come to find out, it may not have much to do with what I eat or when. My first discovery was that when my stomach felt ‘comfortably full’, I was guaranteed a high reading afterwards.  So I have started to serve my own food on a tea saucer.   I allow myself to refill it if I’m still hungry, but surprisingly often, I’m not. I knew our caloric needs reduced as we aged, but I didn’t expect it to happen so abruptly!

Next, I discovered that on days that I go the whole day without interacting with anyone outside the family, my blood sugar is fine. On days when I socialise with one or two people in non-stressful surroundings, it’s only a little elevated and can be dealt with by an extra walk.However on days that I interact with crowds or am otherwise socially stressed (or have anxiety for another reason) I get very, very high readings even on a ketogenic diet.

That will take some management, but it’s good to know.  I never would have guessed that link and it took me a long time to notice it.

Magnus

Our Magnus continues to have occasional “episodes”, but they are no longer scary now that we know what they are and what to do. Actually, the most recent one may have been simply hair balls, because he had been shedding like crazy as it got warmer and he recovered much more quickly than before.

black and white cat looking at the camera

Magnus Kat-sperov

The ‘treatment’ is a day or two (one can) of prescription “digestive care” food, which while almost nutrient free, is easy to digest and slips easily through a cramped digestive tract.  Then four serves of slightly more nutritious, but still far from ideal, commercial moist food. (He really adores that and nearly turns himself inside out while I open the package.) Then, he’s ready to go back to his normal diet. By the last package of commercial food, he’s keen for his normal food again; it’s not as exciting as the junk food, but I think his body misses the nutrients.

As he nears his second birthday, he is starting to settle down and be less demanding. We still haven’t convinced him that twice a day is sufficient for a young cat to be fed, but his ability to wait has been stretching enough that I have hopes that some day we can stop waiting on him hand and foot. (He still loves to play, but has learned to entertain himself more and make do with wrestling a couple of time per day. That’s a relief on the days that the boys are busy.

Blogging

My regular readers (up to 8 now!) may have noticed that my blogging has been less inspired lately.  So much so that I am missing my deadlines and then blathering. My excuse is that I have been ill.  Not dreadfully sick in bed, just “sleeping too much and sniffling like a coke addict”. The mild headache makes it hard to think clearly enough to be scintillating.  My apologies.

It has, however, sent me back to read old blog posts for inspiration.  That has been fun – and instructive.  I used to be much better at this.  I wonder whether, with practice, I can get the “magic” back.

Cronehood

Several years ago, I was pondering the process of becoming a crone.

In the last few months, I have finally reached astrological cronehood. It hasn’t just been astrological, though.  In the several month period of my second Saturn return, I gradually stopped hearing about how young I looked for my age, and started being treated like “an old lady”.

The anger that was such a problem for several years has waned.  I am still grumpier than I was as a young woman, but not uncontrollably.

I have, however, found myself much better at defending my emotional boundaries.  Saying “Not my circus” without feeling bad about refusing to be drawn into the drama.  The first time I did it without thinking about it, I was very surprised.  Glad, but startled that I didn’t feel even slightly guilty.

That has to be one of the very best things about being a crone!

The social anxiety is still with me.  I no longer get panicked as easily, but I am left exhausted beyond all reason by social activities, because dealing with the resultant anxiety is very draining. I’ not sure whether this will wane, too, or whether i am on my way to being a hermit.  (Actually, small groups are fine – coffee with a couple of people, lunch with family, and small groups for a specific purpose all seem to be easier to manage than they were a couple of years ago, so I don’t need to lock myself in a barrel. I just won’t be choosing to go to where large groups gather unless it’s very important.)

Let’s see how Friday goes.  I am going to a Reclaim the Night (also known as Take back the night in some parts of the world) rally that night.  It’s walking distance from here, and for some reason they’re holding waaaay off the beaten path, so it will probably be small.  I haven’t been to one in a couple of decades, so it will be interesting.

 

 

Magnus’ New Game

Magnus has a new favourite game.

Much like ‘wall climbing” for young people, it provides him with a chance to really challenge himself physically.

And he only gets the chance when it’s been rainy for several days! So it stays challenging and new!!

That is, of course, climbing the clothes drying rack. Sadly, it makes a mess of the clean clothes since he pulls them off as he climbs.

Habit

I am basically a creature of habit, especially when it comes to sleep. I guess I think of bedding as “forever” and I find it disconcerting when it wears out and needs to be replaced.a made bed

I used the same pillow from the time I was small until I was in my late 40s, when the poor thing fell into small pieces.

It took me several years to find an acceptable substitute, but eventually I did.

Perfect tradition! We sleep in the bed that belonged to Rodney’s grandparents.

And now it’s begun again.
When I washed the blankets at the beginning of spring, I realised that my 40 year old wool blanket, which had been getting thinner for 20 years, has started to develop holes. Two of Rod’s blankets are in even worse shape. They’re all going to have to be replaced in the next year or so.

Almost all of the blankets I am finding are made of polyester.  In cotton and wool, I find one choice each and they’re very expensive, so we’ll have to spread the purchase over several months.

I hate shopping. Especially because new products are pretty much guaranteed to need replacing in a couple of years.  When I buy a new blanket, I want one that I will not need to replace in my lifetime.

 

 

Living my purpose

One of many advantages of retirement has been the free time and intellectual capacity for research. I am not only researching new topics, like Aboriginal studies, but I am also deepening my understanding of old passions – like Astrology.

I have been studying astrology since 1974, but astrology is an extremely complex art and I don’t know that it’s possible to know everything, and I certainly never delved as deep as Rodney has.

Circle daisies – aka Cape Weed

For me, the usefulness of astrology is that it helps me to understand what makes other
people tick. I would like to be a tolerant person, but I am not inherently tolerant of people who don’t make sense to me – and frankly, without astrology, that was most people.

When I discovered astrology and started reading about what makes various signs tick, I started to have a great deal more sympathy with people who had been previously annoyingly inscrutable. For me, understanding *why* people think like they do made all the difference in my ability to accept the difference comfortably. Continue reading

Aboriginal studies on my own

Ever since we went to the Bush Medicine exhibit in September, I have been on a bit of a reading binge about pre-colonisation Australia. I spent years hunting for such books from the US and was astonished that I wasn’t able to find anything! Come to find out, it seems they hadn’t been written yet, so I’m catching up now.

It all started with Dark Emu , by Bruce Pascoe, an Australian Indigenous writer from the Bunurong clan, of the Kulin nation [1] (Published: March 2014). The book has been much discussed by the folks around me, and it sounded very interesting, so I checked it out of the library.

The Dark Emu of the title seems to refer to the the “Emu in the sky,” a constellation used in Aboriginal culture that is defined by dark nebulae (opaque clouds of dust and gas in outer space) that are visible against the Milky Way background, rather than by stars.[2]

In Dark Emu, Pascoe quotes European explorers in page after page of commentary about how “park like” Australia was before settlement and makes the case that modern retellings of exploration drastically misrepresent the lifestyle and land management practices of the original inhabitants of the continent. The short book is basically a compelling historical argument that calling the original guardians of the land “hunter gatherers” was a political move to bolster the belief that the aboriginal people had no more claim to the land than did the kangaroo or the emu while in reality, the Aboriginal Australian had a sophisticated and deeply spiritual land management practice that benefited the entire population of the continent: human, animal, and plant and that the loss of those land management practices have been devastating across the board.

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Emotions run close to the surface.

Emotions run close to the surface.

I hear that nearly every time I talk with someone who has had stroke.

Before I put my friends in a panic, nothing is up so much as this needs to be said because a lot of folks just do not understand and in their efforts to be helpful they can (and often do) make things worse. As we become accustomed to it, emotional control becomes easier.

I am not sure why that is, but my theory runs along the lines that emotional control is socialised behaviour and our brain considers it to be less important than many other functions. It is willing to let that slide for a while as it works on more fundamental things like walking and talking.

This is fine until the stroke survivor encounters a situation in life that he/she has not prepared for and perhaps even cannot describe. It is then that this lack of emotional control has a habit of showing up, and an onlooker is left to work out how to react.

Many people express difficulty in anger management and this presents real problems for them for which I cannot offer easy solutions. Some folk talk about meditation as a key and others talk about exercise or medication.

If this is your problem, I suggest you talk with other folks who experience it and see if they have ideas that might work for you. Find a ‘rant room’ if you just need to let it out somewhere. I remember when I used to have emotional trouble many years ago. There was just nowhere I could go to say what I needed to say so I went out on a jetty a long way from anyone and shout my frustration to the sea… getting it off my chest helped a lot and the seagulls did not care what I said.

Anger has harmful consequences to both the person experiencing the emotion and the people around them. It is wise to treat it.

In my experience, lack of emotional control used to manifest as crying until I worked out how to manifest it as laughter (a much less confronting emotion for my friends and family to deal with.)

My mind gets fixed on something and will refuse to let it go.

These days I talk about my “inner 8 year old” who finds potty humour to be irresistible, and word play to be great sport. It is a workable explanation for uncontrolled emotion.

The silly part of my experience is that a situation does not need to be emotional, it just needs to be one which I don’t have ready expression for.

Looking at it as objectively as I can manage, uncontrolled emotion is a common experience in stroke that we need not feel embarrassed about.

It is just emotion. I can’t be rational in the moment, and that has to be good enough.

Tragic

A few weeks ago, I had another go at making sauerkraut.  However, as it so often does, it went bad on me.

Oh, no! It grew a woolly coat!

It had grown a thick woolly coat of mould. But the mould was all on top of the cabbage leaf i was using to hold the kraut under the liquid and fell out easily.

Underneath, it looks and smells wonderful!

I haven’t decided yet whether to risk it.

I have moved the kraut into a clean container in the refrigerator and am watching it for a while.  If the mould doesn’t appear in the kraut then it should be safe.

I also consulted with Amal, who made the most amazing sauerkraut I have ever had.  She told me the probable reason is that I had been pressing the vegetables deep under the liquid and holding them there with a weight in the beginning, but I hadn’t been pressing it under daily while it ferments.

It looks and smells wonderful underneath, though – so it’s well worth trying again

Knowing that, I think it’s very worth trying again. (Have I mentioned that it smells amazing?)

Fortunately, we just got a big beautiful cabbage in last week’s vegetable delivery! This weekend is crazy busy, but I’ll order some more beets and have another try next week.

Update: welcome to chess season

Every October, Jack has a relentless chess season.  This year is no different.

I’ve lost track of the details, but I know that this is the week that he has come to call “hell week” because he is playing in chess tournaments and training sessions almost every day for over a week.

He was teaching chess on Monday and Wednesday.  He participated in a chess meet on Thursday until midnight and a training session for Monday on Friday night. All weekend, he will play in the Country Victoria Country Victoria Chess Championship, then on Monday he has the annual Scholastic chess tournament. I think that’s it…until he teaches again on Wednesday, and plays again on Thursday.

Jack is getting older and more independent, and he is handling most of these on his own this year, but that doesn’t mean we’re not involved.

As I was setting my alarm to get up three hours early to make Jack’s breakfast and help him get ready for his day, Jack realised that he had forgotten to go to the bank to get the entry fee for this weekend’s championship. The banks wont be open, so he can’t get it tomorrow – his youth account doesn’t come with a an ATM card – so Rod and I had to have a sleepy conference about how we are going to pull the rabbit out of this hat. Fortunately Jack can repay it easily on Tuesday, as soon as he has time to get to the bank, but suddenly our morning is looking much busier than we had expected.

At dinner, I also discovered that on Monday, I will be spending the day in Melbourne for the annual Scholastic chess tournament.  Generally Rod would have gone with him, since he has a much greater social tolerance than I do, but on Mondays, he has  choir again.  (You may have heard that his choir folded a couple of weeks ago; he found another choir this week.  Yay!) Jack would be willing to go on his own, but he would be the only player without a parent in tow and while he feels capable of getting there and back, he didn’t seem to keen on having the other parents “take charge” of him.

I don’t mind.  I went last year, too, because Rod was very ill and too recently out of the hospital.  It wasn’t too bad. The people are nice, and it’s a chance to sit in the sun and read and to watch students in their native habitat.

I sure am glad that Jack likes chess and that we seem to have landed in exactly the right place for him to pursue that interest.