Happy New Year 2016

Hmm, that was a much longer hiatus than I had planned.  Actually, I hadn’t planned on a hiatus at all.

The last year has been a whirlwind of adaptation, change, and re-adaptation.  All in all, it’s been a wonderful year, but such an enormous change was bound to be stressful, no matter how good.

We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of Jack and I arriving here. In some ways the time has flown – and in others it feels like we’ve always been here.

By February we had worked out the bus system, Jack had joined a dojo and a the local chess club, and life started to get busy.  The original dojo Jack had joined was a massive affair with one instructor and dozens of students.  It was very different from his Isshinryu experience, but it was also a very long way away, so in April he changed dojos to a much smaller one where he works more closely with his instructor and we don’t have to spend four hours traveling to get him there.   They also meet three nights a week, as opposed to only Saturday morning, and Jack regularly attends two of those.

I did take the photography class.  It was a lot of fun!  For six months I concentrated on photography and I got pretty decent.  However my class ended in early December, and I have taken few photos since my exhibition – and for some reason, they haven’t been very good pictures.  Oh well, I learned a great deal and I will pick the camera up again in the new year.  It’s been nice not to HAVE to do shoots every week for a few weeks.

One of the expected challenges of moving to a completely new culture has been the whole food issue.  We eat funny.  I have spend the best part of the last 12 months exploring the foods here, looking for safe versions of packaged foods and tracking down completely pastured meats. We have found a wonderful farm market and a pastured meat delivery service, so the basics are covered. We also have a lovely greengrocer and an IGA a very short walk from our new home, which covers most of the rest. But the exploration process – and a really bad and long lasting case of indulgence – has had some less than ideal effects on my health.

After 20 years of close control of my diabetes, I am having some complications – due almost entirely, I’m sure – to my indulgence in “cafe culture”. I stopped having gluten free treats with my coffee when we’re out and about a few months ago, but I think my blood sugar must still be very high because my feet have been getting numb after meals that have even a little too much carbohydrate.  I have a lot of work to do! (My glucometer broke about six months ago, and I have only just gotten the paperwork done to apply for a new one.  Foolish of me, but it’s done now. I will eventually have a new one and can test my blood sugar experiments and get control back.)

In September, we moved from Ann’s house, down the hill to share a house with Trudi – another of Rod’s sisters. Our new home is around the corner from Rod’s mother and his third sister, Karen, which is very, very cool! I have had a marvelous time getting to know this side of Rods family better.  It’s also been great to unpack the boxes that waited in Rod’s mother’s garage for us to move down here. Not surprisingly, we are finding that some things from the boxes “went astray” – and some of the boxes had clearly been unpacked and repacked.  Putting things in different boxes than they came from was a dead give-away. Oh well – almost a year between packing and packing means that it may be years before I am sure what’s missing, and the emotional impact come largely from the impossibility of replacing things until I am working again.

The higher rent on a bigger house has also presented us with some challenges.  Pensions are not established with whole food diets in mind, so most weeks the money is gone once we have our groceries.  I’m not wildly enthused about going back to being poor and have begun to investigate how I might make some extra income while Rod still needs me to be home.

Jack’s exciting news is that he is now working.  He tutors chess at a private girl’s school in Melbourne for a couple hours per week.  He REALLY enjoys having an income of his own and he has bailed us out on more than one occasion when the budget came up short. His studies are continuing smoothly  – and I have joined him in his math studies.  I never got a very good math education, so a few years ago, I picked up his curriculum and started working through it.  He’s still far ahead of me, but I am making progress.  I recently completed the elementary section and started on the middle school section  – and since he does one chapter each day and I do two or three, I may eventually overtake him. (Or not.  he seems to understand math better than i do and I consider it possible – or probable – that I will come to a point where I slow way down just to understand.

In other exciting news, Nerida and Connor have come to spend the new year celebrations with us! Our first house guests!  It’s so very, very good to catch up with them again. The only problem is that its made me very aware of how much I miss our weekly dinners together. Sadly, they will head back to Sydney this weekend.

It’s 3:30am. I think I’d better get some sleep. I’m sure there’s more, but I wouldn’t be able to write about it coherently at this point….

What I’ve been up to…

Hey, all. I can’t believe that I had a three day weekend, with nothing planned, and I still didn’t manage to post! I did however, have a wonderfully relaxing weekend and the one following was also delightful, if not as calm.

I’ve been getting a decent amount of crafting done, which always leaves me feeling relaxed and contented. It’s more expensive than meditation, but it also leaves a record of my love for my beautiful children and grandchildren and it leaves me feeling as refreshed as what other people describe as the benefit of their meditation. I’ve never really gotten the hang of the more familiar meditation, I think. I do sometimes sit alone with my thoughts and wander whither they lead. Daydreaming, my mother calls it. That might be sort of like meditation.

Come to think of it, I also get that sense of calm from washing dishes and doing laundry. My mother would faint if she read that. I hated doing the dishes when I was a kid. But the repetition and mindlessness that drove me nuts as a child, now soothes me and leaves me alone with my thoughts. It’s funny what a half century can do for one’s thoughts on a task.

Continue reading What I’ve been up to…

Update (and some diabetes resources)

Hurray! We have a long weekend coming up!

Even more astonishing, our busy-ness all weekend amounts to harvesting and canning, which while it isn’t “sitting by the pool” relaxing, is far more relaxing than 10 places we have to be in five hours like our usual weekend go.

The plan is to pick some or all of the following: peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes. Then we can spend the rest of the weekend canning and drying and making ready for winter like good little ants.

With 7 people to feed for a couple of weeks this autumn (and more to feel from time to time over the winter) I want to have a huge store of goodies ready — especially fruit and vegetables since that’s the major part of most of our meals. Still to come are raspberries and apples and then we’re out of luck until spring. (Give or take some kale.)

I keep thinking we have missed something…

When we’re not canning and picking and picking and canning, I’d like to spend some quality time with Jack’s lessons. he’s happy enough to do them, but finding the time to sit and do a lesson uninterrupted has been a challenge all summer. Fortunately, the autumn schedule has more a somewhat more reasonable pace.

And if there’s time after Jack is tired, I can spend it crafting. I have scrapbooks to fill for three children before they visit in November, plus a wedding and a condolence card to make, and a series of Mabon cards.

And I’d like to find time to cozy up with my camera and take some great shots this weekend, too. The last ones I managed were that green one I posted a few days ago and the ones on this page that aren’t me. (Rod took the one of me. A series, really. He’s so sweet!)

I’d say my new year’s project paid off, even if I failed long before I got 365 days in. The photos I do take are better and I’m no longer stuck on the automagical settings — I can go for effects when I want to! But now that I can, I find I want to play more.

I think I need more than three days this weekend… or maybe fewer hobbies.

My Aunt Beverly, my Mom’s baby sister, mentioned to me that one of my other aunts had (recently?) been diagnosed with diabetes and that she was having a hard time getting ehr blood sugar down. Aunt isn’t a computer user, so I gathered up some information from some of my favorite sites (Blood Sugar 1010 and Dr Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution) and printed it out for her.

I have been reading Dr Bernstein’s book off an on for several months, and it’s fantastic — but it’s a huge tome with few photos or pictures. I will send it to her if she likes his style (I do) but it’s a big, expensive book to send if it will just be a door stop.

Dr Bernstein is a diabetic who was diagnosed with juvenile onset diabetes in 1948.  When the first tabletop glucometers  came on the market in the 1960s (intended for hospital emergency rooms) he got his hands on one and approached it like the engineer he was.  After enough experimentation, he got his own blood sugar under control and spent the next many years trying to get someone to listen to what he had learned.  Eventually he realized that the only way to get anyone to hear him was to become a doctor, and so he did.  Now, long past retirement age and long after pretty much everyone who was diagnosed the years he was, he is still in practice, helping his patients learn to control their own blood sugars.

Blood Sugar 101 is equally good.  Jenny Ruhl is also a scientist and a diabetic and she makes all the recent research make sense to those of us who speak English but not “medicalese”. I can’t wait to get my hands on her book, too. She’s a little more “political” than Dr Bernstein, but I like that. 😉

I printed a few pertinent pages and mailed them off to my aunt today — I hope it helps her as much as it has helped me. If they do, I will help her get the books.

Diabetes can be not much more than a nuisance, but it can be can also be a brutally painful and gruesome way to die.  No one wants to watch a loved one go that way.

OK, the guys have pronounced it bedtime.   I was thinking it was pumpkin hour more than an hour ago.


Good night everyone!