Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Yo-yo

This story is as long as my adult life.
I don't want to bore myself or anyone else to death so I start with the basic facts:

  • I have an obsessive personality.
  • I have eaten and starved myself alternately since I was 17.
  • I don't make any apologies for that.
  • I am not going to negotiate on it either.
(That's the end for those without time on their hands.. read on if you don't need to hang out the washing or something)

I believe that there is something on that gene that also has alcoholism on it that triggers the obsessive thing. 

I do not need to keep the fringe on my carpet perfectly straight, however when a 'thing' climbs into my consciousness, it takes over. The first I remember was a passion for cats, then birds, then African Violets, dress making, patch working, 3D crafting in an online environment, ....

My eating is very closely linked to that darn gene. It isn't that I just eat too much. It is that eating is very tightly wound into the obsessive behavior.

For example:

  • Do you need a packet of twisties to have a bath? I don't have a packet of twisties every time I have a bath - but I think about having one every time.
  • When I eat a Kit Kat, I first trim the chocolate off the ends, then the sides and finally I snip layers off as I eat down the KitKate rod. All done with my teeth the same way I have done it my entire life.
  • If I eat instant noodles, I have to have two pieces of bread underneath. I cut the corners off the bread-a corner at a time- and wind noodles with each corner. Then the remaining straight edges. And finally into the soft bread.
While these might just seem like habits, I don't enjoy eating a Kit Kat or noodles if I don't eat them this way. I would rather not eat them at all.

So agreed? Obsessive?

When I was pre-teen, Dad called me Fat Annie. It was a joke. 
I was thin.
But by the time I was 16 I was puppy-fat. I was on the receiving end of a chant 'stand-up-straight-pull-your-stomach-in'. I don't for a minute think they realised that this was creating an issue.

So in 1981 I stopped eating anything except the dinner that Mum cooked. And an orange. I got down to 47.5 kgs. I looked fashionably thinner but not anorexic. But I still had huge hips, bad belly, big bum... so I suggest that there was anorexia in my head.

I looked pretty good but the chant didn't end. You see the chant was about posture but I didn't get it.
All I heard was fat Fat FAT FAT FAT

So I started eating again. There hadn't been any reward in starvation. It started with a packet of chips. I would crush them into the finest crumbs and eat the crumbs on the back of a wet teaspoon.

Ever since then I have been on and off the crash diet. 

Plenty of people, ever so wise people have, do and will point out that it obviously doesn't work, so stop doing it and try something else.

'Try Exercise'
Ok it's too hot, it's too cold, it's dark, it's raining and I get hay fever. I don't care that someone will judge these as excuses. They are my reasons. I am not changing my mind.

However I could hope that the obsession button is triggered and suddenly I have to walk in the rain. It is possible.

I loved the gym. I really did. It appealed to everything obsessive in me. I set a goal. I beat it. I put music on and I walked until it was done. I picked a faster beat and I walked that fast. And then a faster one.
But I do not do classes. That has nothing to do with the way I operate. It exposes me to things I don't want or need. I do not want peer group pressure. I do not want to puff in front of other people. I do not want to be measured against someone else's goals. 

This is so clear cut to me, I can not understand why anyone feels there is a need to try and persuade me. 

But the gym cost money. Moving into one income and all the kids meant the gym had to go. I thought once I got my APS6 I would be able to resume, but that chair has been kicked from under my feet.

'Don't think of it as a diet, think of it as a change of lifestyle'
Blimey - think of eating Kit Kats without biting the ends off first? You have to be kidding. I can't have a new lifestyle because this isn't a lifestyle issue.

Blah blah blah. I have gone on long enough.

I am back on the crash diet. I am exercising control. I am obsessing about it. I will be successful because I know I can do this.

I may keep the weight off for a while. I hope to get enough money to return to the gym one day. I am hoping Mark will enthuse me to walk more often.

But there is a good chance I will put it back on one day. If I was an alcoholic, then I would have to face it and say 'no more alcohol' and every day I would say the same thing. But when the food obsession is yours, you have to face everyday saying have this much and no more. You can't close the door on it. You can't empty the house of food.
Several times a day you have to flirt with the addiction.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Going 'round the Bend

Now that I know at least one person is listening I will continue the story of building a house!
(Thank you Edward!) (And I am joking)

More garden edging. I think I am a victim of my own stage setting. This weekend's work looks less impressive because the last photo looked like it was more finished than it was. In fact, when I finished on Tuesday, those beams were simply standing in place. This weekend I have hammered stakes to keep them in place and screwed the riser to the ends.

And then completed the second step down.

No surprise to anyone, but I am not all that fit so I have to replace stamina with doggedness. Crow bar work wears me out after 5-10 minutes, then I turn to shoveling.... then leveling ... then whatever....I simply need to keep changing the action to be able to keep going because I simply can't crowbar, or shovel all day.

So after 2 hours of cycling through the options, I was hot and knackered!

However I am on a 'diet' or 'lifestyle re-adjustment'. Again 'whatever'. But sitting down and/or being tempted to eat is not an option. So I figured the coolest thing to do was wash the dog.

Which then highlights the dog hair he drops, so then I vacuumed the house.

After all this resting, I returned to the garden.

Only the first two steps are in place. After that, the sleepers are balanced to help me visualise.
It feels like a lot of work - trust me.

Going round the corner with sleepers. Not shown to the left are the two crimson rosellas eating while I keep the mad dog away from them.
I have stopped for two reasons:

  1. A ferocious dust storm has swept in. My gutters are buzzing as they resonate with the wind.
  2. I have got to the corner and I can't decide how to go around the bend.
  3. My hands are aching from dragging sleepers around the yard. Lego would be lighter.
ugh.. that was three...really only realised the third reason once I had packed up and showered :)

I can change the distance between the sleepers and give the corner a little standing room. Or just go through the bend, holding the width constant. I am definitely in favour of the first option, but I am struggling with the angles.

Decisions, Decisions.
Time to think about dinner and nudge Mark awake :) 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Talking to myself

I wonder sometimes why I blog.

Who's listening?
Who do I want to listen?

Would I do it if it wasn't a public forum?

Mostly I guess I blog when I really need to say something. And I guess we all like to be heard, so I blog.

I don't think it would continue to have appeal if it were just a diary.

Does it bother me that hardly anyone visits? Not really, this isn't common fodder, or scintillating specialness - so it isn't going to attract bulk people or even a special audience.

Does it bother me that there are never any comments? Somewhat. 

Right at this moment there is a family gathered at the front of my house and they are all watching the black and white nose of Ponyo thrust under the gate. The family is walking away but the littlest lingers, lingers. He is hardly taller than my plants but he crouches lower, staring intently at Ponyo....and now he jumps up and skips off after his family.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Long, Long Weekend

Canberra gets an extra long weekend. "Family and Community Day". I tacked an extra day onto it and had a long, long weekend.

My project for the weekend was to decide and commence on a path for the back yard. At Easter time I had done some path building and blogged about how I thought I would finish off the back yard by adding some lawn.

Over winter however, the dog has worn such deep, unlovely tracks into the lawn on the top half of the garden, I have no appetite to watch him do similar in the bottom half of the yard.

There is also the issue of the slope and potential run-off cutting tracks into whatever path I lay.

So I have been trying to decide to put steps or not, and how to mark the boundary of the path and what material to use.

Also the dog impact on the pebble and paver path has not been good either. He rampages up and down the path scattering rocks, bark chip and making it look a frightful mess.

The circles show where there are plants... not to aid the dog to discover and eat them, but might as well have been for that purpose... In the foreground is the beginnings of the scatter mentioned above.
As a result, I decided to pull up some of my Easter work and rethink.
And think....
and think...

I put in my tax return a few weeks ago and have received my refund so I am cashed up and ready to try again.

I have decided to try long gradual steps. The first two will be three meters apart and then the last one, just short of the corner of the house.

That was the plan.

So yesterday, having procrastinated on decision making for 2.5 days of my 4 day break, I ran in at 10 minutes before closing and ordered the timber.

After sending my poppet off to sleep in the UK this morning, I looked outside and it was promising. The forecast was for chance of showers which usually means it will be dry. Usually. 

As the wood hadn't arrived, I started off by breaking the concrete that had held the pavers in place. I shifted the pebbles to around the fish bowl, hoping that it might slow down the digging that the dog has been concentrating on there. While doing that, I made another dog related discovery.

To keep it from floating, I had used plastic straps to attach a large rock to a water plant that had been growing in the fish bowl. It had grown really well over the year, but I had noticed that the top of it was gnawed down. Only one potential culprit. But worse! He had chewed through the strapping. Really? Did he have a snorkel on while he pulled that trick off?

Anyway, I finished up the preparations for today's planned activity and it started to rain. The wood hadn't arrived so it seemed like a very good time to go inside and get dinner made on the off-chance that later in the day I would be busy in the garden. Of course, as soon as I started, the timber arrived.

I helped the delivery chap unload. He asked me if i came from the bush. I think that is Canberra speak for "most city ladies don't help unload timber".

Anyway, it was cold and wet but I did make some progress. Not nearly as much as I had hoped, but my hand is aching badly now, so I am glad that time allowed me no more.

By the way, the lasagne was great. I included one single large mushroom to give a little extra depth of flavour. The kids pulled the pieces out. And the leaves of basil. sigh

Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Desk!

Since moving to the new house I have been making do with a desk that was essentially a tower. The work space area was as wide as my keyboard, and the desk top computer was perched higher than my ears.
My Mark, who is far more careful of my safety than I am, did not approve.

So I started hunting around for a new desk over the last few weeks.

I don't know why, but today I sprung into action at Office Works.

It has taken me until now to finish assembling everything. 

The dog drove me mad. Under foot, in walk spaces, licking my feet while I had bits balanced to screw....  arrrgggghhhhhhhhhhh
Have small walk way- then place dog in it

I am knackered.

I may move the tower onto the floor under the desk. Or I may not.
I could move the drawers under the desk. But I probably won't.

Time for bed 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Happy Birthday

It's my baby's birthday today. 
The youngest of 4.

in 1992 the first of my set was born. Holy caw! there is no way that those pre-natal classes do anything but provide a pleasant fog in front of what you have just signed up for. 
The showdown isn't going to to be puff-puff-pant-pant or whale music or pan pipes. 
The show down is when the 4 year old takes advantage of the fact that you sleep and mixes glue and baby powder into everything you own. (Start with the baby change table, then the sewing cabinet where all pins become one, then a little for the sewing machine and then on to the airconditioner.....)
The show down is when the tears well up in eyes when you discover that in fact there had been loads of homework and Facebook wasn't part of it.

But today the baby of 4 is 15. So nearly grown up.
I am so proud of my kids. Not in a 'look what I did' way, but a 'look at you!' way

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Grand Adventure

A sweet, massaman-like curry
 And so I began my grand adventure!
I flew out of Melbourne on a cold wet June day. The thought of flying was exciting, but the thought of transit lounges made me nervous. It turns out transit lounges were fine, but the flying got a bit hairy. After 30 minutes of horrible, horrible turbulence, the pilot pinged us to say we were safely through. I really could have done with an earlier one saying "You aren't going to die today because of these clouds". I guess the important part was that we didn't.

I flew Royal Brunei. Polite helpful staff, lovely clothes, prayers at three stages of journey and pretty good food- poorly captured in the picture above. We got fed to the point of bursting. I had packed treats in case we were left to starve like I was on Lufthansa 20 years ago, but didn't really need any of it. My bottle of water was handy but not necessary. It was unlike the trip to the US a few years ago which was like crossing a desert according to my kidney's experience.....

But starting this story with the tales of transport is not really how I want to tell this story. It isn't about travel, it is about a gorgeous man actually.

So while I am flying Royal Brunei, I am actually flying to England to see Mark and meet his family.

I haven't a plan for how I am going to write this but I have loaded a bundle of photos which I guess will be prompts to memories of events and heart and I will weave it into some kind of mad nest of words!

Woodstock for breakfast. I was already in love with lanes and green
I arrived at Heathrow, turned around a couple of times at some ungodly hour of the morning and there was my Mark! A sight for weary eyes if ever there was. We left the airport and after going around one particular roundabout about 10 times waiting for the satnav to find us, we were off to Woodstock to visit Blenheim Palace. (Google's dictionary can agree with Blenheim but not Heathrow. Inexplicable)                                                                         

Blenheim on a 'fine' day
I have been here before. Having been an anglophile and reader of historic fiction, I love Blenheim's connection with QE1 and the Marlborough's. The more recent Churchill references leave me a little cold as I am not comfortable with the English use of Ozzie bodies as cannon fodder.
At this point in my journey, I was filling up my soul with images of Mark and green to take back with me to Markless brown Australia. Mark was playing hard to get with the camera, but the green let me drink deeply!
Lovely hole in the tree to imagine filling with owls, squirrels and pixies.

A view of green can only be improved by....
adding Mark
Beautiful palace vista can only be improved by....
adding Mark
I will stop tormenting him. A simple vista.....
All the photos I took were taken by the camera in my phone. I have been pretty pleased with it. So when we reached Blenheim's butterfly house, I tested it without even going to its macro setting. Amazing clarity. I have had a collection of cameras over the years. One, my 21st birthday present, was very valuable. But none have given me this quality combined with simplicity.
From Blenhem it was on to Newent where we were staying in a cottage Mark had rented for us. Beautiful and quaint. I had to send Mark on walks by himself just so I could sit in the sunroom and enjoy it. He was way too busy to have time to sit!

The garden was as pretty as an English garden can be but there was something I had glimpsed in the advertising material and I wanted to confirm my suspicions!
Sure enough! Two gum trees in the back yard. In fact when we spoke to Julian, one of the owners and in fact a Chelsea flower show winner, there was also a Wolomi pine in the back corner too.

Our Front door. Mark reached to steady me everytime we walked down they cobbley stones. I assured him I could manage, but he then and now insists that I needed the assistance. (Makes me feel even older than I am, but he means well)
Fred- teleporting Turtle. Never seen move, but always discovered with food

And there you see what this trip was all about! I am so proud it is ridiculous. Do they say there is no fool like an old fool? Well that might be a bit harsh, but I certainly feel as giddy and happy about this 2nd attempt of happily-ever-after as I can ever remember feeling. Thank you ! I adore my ring. It is so beautiful. I shouldn't be this materialistic, but as it twinkles away while I am typing, I have to say thank you again!
Our first day was spent on a trip to Cheltenham for a food and wine festival. Great smells, good music and food with dodgey weather. We enjoyed lunch and wandered to a nearby pub just as the crowds started to thicken - very much like the clouds were.
We made it to the pub, armed with Pims for me and  a beer for Mark and then he heavens opened. We sat in warm comfortable surrounds and congratulated ourselves on our fine timing.

Once the weather cleared - which it did- and in fact did a lot over the course of the holiday so I will now try to avoid references to rain as Mark would like me to remember this as a lovely fine summery holiday. 
Anyway, when it cleared, we headed towards Gloucestershire. When I saw the cathedral's spire over the town, I asked mark to take a side trip there as I had heard snippets of its story over the years.
Poor old thing! 
It isn't getting the money that Salisbury's is getting and the centuries of people visiting it have not been kind. It's like it has had 1000 years of choir boys scratching away at every surface since. I would describe it as a grand old heap.
Interesting thing is that in England I got to learn [artner's pace. And quirks. he doesn't read all the little signs with information but he can't help singing loudly in a church.

Cows at Three Counties Show
Now what I have to do is make sure this doesn't become a day by day, blow by blow of the trip.
However the next day we were off to the show!!!!
Sheep watch the judging of "Humans in white coats"

Tewkesbury Abbey. Not as huge (though still quite large!), but obviously had better trained choir boys as it hadn't been worn nearly so much.

There were aspects where there were so many angles and so many layers. I wish the light had been better to have captured the depth of field better

What Ozzie can resist a wobbley Tudor facade? We had a beer there. Partner  feels nervous when the walls are not at right angles. He thinks that if they are going to fall down one day, it would be good to know which day that was going to be in advance (I am putting words in his mouth). For me the thing about 'ye olde English building' is the smell. Damp. Old. Damp.
My lunch
Partner treated me and treated me again. We ate too well.  
When we first walked past this restaurant, it was empty and about 12:30pm. Not a good time to be empty if you have a good reputation so we kept walking. But our feet brought us back as it just looked nice. 
By the time we got there there were a few tables occupied and now well after 1pm.
We placed our order and Partner asked if we could have a little bread. Shiho(?) said it was on it's way.
We had ordered the two course meal- and that is all we were billed for but we were treated to a wonderful meal. Amongst the little extras that we were given was a lovely soup. I later overheard that they had just started serving lunch that week so it may be that they were letting us sample extras that were prepared for a crowd that didn't yet realise the lunchtime option. Whatever the reason, we had a wonderful meal. Thank you very much!

Green, old buildings and narrow hedged roads. I couldn't get enough of them.

We drove....

and drove..

We drove so far we ended up in Wales, where there are strange trench-dwelling sheep. I have never seen sheep who live in trenches before....

Sunshine! And Elderflower Cordial. My new favourite refresher. Here we are at Hellen's.
A dilapidated manor house.

I think Partner and I were falling in love with the less sophisticated, We both preferred our exploring of this crumbling backwater to the commercial splendor of Blenheim.

Three Choirs Winery for Lunch
The trip wasn't all about food but.....
Three Choirs Winery wasn't far at all from Newent. The restaurant had left us disappointed on the Sunday, being fully booked for Father's Day. And even our mid-week lunch time drop in found it bustling and window seats at a premium.
My lunch. Baked Brie and the most delicious chutney I have ever eaten
With our lunch we tried some of their wines. I had a delicious sweet one and Partner's choice was lovely too. Lovely enough to appeal to even my sweet palate.
Chepstow Castle in Wales
Seeing Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility at Chepstow in the evening was a trip highlight!
To be honest- being with Mark was the highlight. All the other things became backdrops to that, but of all the backdrops, this was the best!

Mark had booked us tickets in advance to an evening performance on the castle grounds. We arrived just as the tourist day ended and watched the heavy wooden doors close in front of us to our dismay as we hope to be able to see the caste... not just the show.

We poked the 15 foot high doors and they must be very well hung, as they swung open enough for us to poke our heads through and ask when we might get in. Reopening at 6:45 for the 7:30 performance.
We were on the door step ready to go when it re-opened but once we had staked our claim with folding chairs (bought especially for the evening), we were told 'no leaving the main courtyard'.

The man in high-viz was friendly though and struck a conversation.. "Have you come far tonight?" I dropped the word Australia into a sentence and suddenly we are being told to go and have a discrete look. Mark is not very discrete, but we did take advantage of the offer and had a lovely, private wander through the castle.

Thank you Mr Hi-Viz

Looking along the walls built strategically against the river

Pretty Framed view

7 actors sharing about 18 roles. very well done!
A long held dream come true
Twenty years ago, I didn't make it to Bath. I can't tell you how many years before that I had wanted to go there but 20 years ago I made it within a few miles and for reasons beyond explanation, I was driven away again...
But here is my Bath. My Jane Austin. My roman ruins.

Meeting the people
Meeting the in-laws is something that causes so much anxiety that there are books and movies dedicated to the subject. 
Meeting Mark's family was going to be a big deal for me.
He told me they would love me because they would be happy for him.

He told me often enough that I believed they would want to like me. But it wasn't enough to convince me that, having his best interests at heart, they wouldn't wish for something else for him.

I am the 'older woman', and too old for more kids so not only am I taking him away from his existing family, I am giving him my bunch of teenagers and closing the option of having his own.

I couldn't read their minds, but the People's actions spoke plenty. And I am even more happy. I loved the lunch we had with all the kids enjoying being the focus. And dare I say, enjoying not having a 3 year old of my own needing focus.

And cards, and wine and invitations to dinner.....

What I felt was welcome and not judgement.

This is a subject where the heart feels much, but it is a public space and these are private lives so that is all that is being put out today!
Poole Harbour
Home of my favourite shop- Poole Pottery. Gifts of great beauty were purchased here!
My energy to blog is fading. I have been here for 5 hours and there are still photos with no captions.

Let me quickly caption them and then escape from the computer with just one last message.
Thank you Mark
Masts in the grass
A serpentine waterway finds its way through the rushes

Gulls with dark heads

Captured in flight by a phone. Amazing technology

Look! Water

Harmony points her nose at Corfe Castle
The good girl drove me to the airport proving her worth as a faithful steed

He hates this photo. Tuff

Playing with a bee
very 70s

Spooky swans
Swans should be black you know

This time the red nose is a boat, driven by Mark in the rain

I pursued these allusive creatures. Timid shy things. i have deleted hundreds of photos of tiny specks in the distance. Each photograph matched by a huff from mark who can't understand squirrel excitement

Ok... so not all squirrels are nervous.. i backed off before this guy did!