Archive for October, 2009

So Proud

13
Oct

My children never cease to amaze me. I mean, I almost feel guilty writing this particular post because all four of them are constantly making me proud, but this one was a first and I think it definitely deserves a mention.

Dealing with death is not something you wish on any child, is it? C lost her granny a couple of years ago and she really felt the loss for the very first time. Actually, my heart went out to her then if only because I think she was the only one who particularly grieved. Not to put a finer point on things, but Granny wasn’t the No. 1 Favourite – nor was she any good with children – but she had a special place for C which is not to be mocked or left unsaid. Points for that one, Mum.

But I digress, because it’s not about my mother that I want to talk. In fact, it’s about a very little animal that I’ve been jesting about in a previous post – and if C ever reads this, she needs to know that my mockery was certainly not about her, her situation OR her little hamster, Tribble. I’ve already praised her for looking after him so well. I never once had to tell her to feed him, water him or clean his cage. It was always already done, so full marks there, C. She looked after him and she loved him. Her first pet of her very own.

But even first pet’s die and I was amazed at how well she handled it and I’m so proud that she’s so mature and grown-up, in a situation where she really didn’t have to be. She could have stamped her feet, roared, refused to go to school, demanded a replacement … all of those things. But no! Instead, after 24 hours of wondering if he was dead or hibernating (see previous post on the evolution of hamsters) she admitted all of her own accord that he was in fact, dead and there was little point in taking him to a vet for confirmation. Not only that, but she insisted on burying him herself. She dug the earth, laid him very gently in a snug pile of hamster bedding, covered him up and simply stayed with him for a little while to say goodbye.

So it was only a hamster? I don’t agree with that at all, because it wasn’t about the hamster. Not really. It was about one child’s very personal experience with loss, with the inevitable guilt that comes with it, with the sadness and the ‘shortness’ of life.

I know it’s not the same as losing a close relative, but it was a very big deal and I am truly proud!

 

Hamsters – what the books don’t say

10
Oct

If they’re still in 3D format, they’re probably hibernating.

If they’ve reverted to an environmentally-friendly sort of flat-pack format, then they’re probably dead.

So …

Cute + flat = Dead.

Harsh, but true.

Evolution – Hamsters next to go?

08
Oct

Oh yes. If we’re going to talk about evolution in terms of survival of the fittest, then hamsters have just got to be on the hit list for forthcoming extinction. They have to be.

‘Oh no!’ I hear you shout. ‘Not the humble hamster?’

Well, I’d never have thought it either – until this morning. But to fully understand the situation we need to step back in time all the way to last night. It was ten o’clock, upstairs was in darkness, the TV was on downstairs (I know that because I was watching it!). Suddenly … creak, creak, sniffle, creak and … my eldest daughter appears in the doorway with a small bundle in her hands which she was trying to drown in tears. No. Hang on. She couldn’t drown him because he was already dead! Oh, dear. Well, as you can imagine, it was all extremely traumatic. Poor sweetheart. This was her first pet of her very own and she really had looked after him well. I was extremely proud of her, having fully expected to be promoted to chief hamster carer after the novelty wore off. Two years on and he was the most loved hamster ever, so you can imagine how upset she was. Unfortunately, my younger daughter woke up, too – and that wasn’t quite to easy, leading to tales of ‘two years old is ancient for a hamster, he did very well’ and ‘don’t worry, He’ll find Granny and they’ll be ever so happy together’ (although I did wonder what Granny was going to be doing in Hamster heaven! – best not ponder that one too deeply).

Anyway, we lay poor Tribble to rest for the night back in his cosy little bed and eventually everyone goes back to sleep. Peace …

until morning. 8.30 a.m. and Daughter comes flying down the stairs, hamster instruction booklet in hand: ‘Mum, look! Maybe he’s not dead. It says here he could be hibernating!’ And so my day began – heating water bottles, cuddling and whispering sweet nothings into the deaf ears of poor stiff little Tribble. But that’s the thing. He’s not actually stiff. Blimey, it’d be a lot easier if the poor mite had died mid-chomp of a monkey nut – or clinging to the side of his exercise wheel, but no. He’s chosen to keep us guessing. ‘It is extremely difficult to tell,’ says the book, ‘if a hamster is dead or hibernating.’ (Marvellous reference book, eh?) ‘They can remain torpid for up to a week.’ (A WEEK! YOU MUST BE ***ING JOKING!) ‘A vet may or may not be able to tell you whether your pet has kicked the bucket or not. Occasionally, a whisker might twitch and/or if you’re lucky enough to know where a hamster heart is located, you might be supernatural enough to detect a small breath perhaps once every TWO MINUTES!

Ok. So tell me. Exactly how does this ridiculous and completely illogical behavior help this species? I mean, come on! How many hamsters can you imagine have been consigned to the recycling bin (sorry – I mean, gently and carefully buried in the local pet cemetery) – ALIVE! Give it your best guess, I dare you. Have YOU buried a hamster? Ha! Feeling guilty now? Are you sure … absolutely and utterly and completely sure … you didn’t bury the poor mite alive??? To be captured, tortured and interrogated endlessly for espionage by the Mole Bureau of Investigation?

How can a species adopt a behavior that is likely to lead them to a terrifying and untimely death continue to survive? This does not make sense! I think this survival of the fittest thing needs to be rethought. I really do.

And now – if you’ll excuse me – I need to google CPR for hamsters.

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Rowers – every prison should have one!

08
Oct

Rowing machines – Yay! I’ve been introduced to them recently – by a friend. At least, I thought she was a friend, but then who can you trust these days, eh? Think about it! Do you torture your friends? Do you suggest they do unthinkable things? Do you encourage them to try killing themselves – albeit at the gym? Well, do you?

You really need to rethink your idea of friendship.

Rowing! Jeez! It’s not sport. How can it possibly be sport? It’s more like a kind of voluntary corporal punishment. It should be banned. And you know what? It’s addictive, too (another reason it should be banned).

Oh, all right, then. Maybe that’s a little bit harsh, but it’s completely insane. It’s a completely miserable experience – but with the most amazing effects – both physical and psychological.

Argh! I can feel myself getting pulled in … pulled in …

Yep! Probably hooked.

And I’m rubbish! It takes me no time at all to be completely useless, brain turned to mush for the rest of the day. Every prison should have one, I say. Criminals should be forced to row for an hour every day (or two hours – depending on who they’ve murdered (some PMs could carry a sentence of just 20 minutes????)). See, then they simply wouldn’t have the energy to even think about committing another crime for the rest of the day.

Yep! I think it might work.

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Beat late-night snacking

07
Oct

Well, it was the subject of much discussion last night, so I thought I’d write it down and reinforce a few tips I picked up – see if I can actually incorporate them myself!! Naturally, this kind of discussion comes up frequently during weight loss meetings and I always tend to ask ‘What kind of snacker are you?’ As with everything, half the problem is recognising that there IS a problem. So if anyone out there wants to beat snacking …

What time of day do you tend to snack the most?

What kind of snacks do you reach for?

WHY? (Are you bored? Lonely? Is it simply a habit as soon as you put feet up in front of the TV?)

Next … what are you going to do about it? Because ‘I just can’t stop’ really is a pathetic excuse, isn’t it? Nobody is forcing those snacks into your mouth – other than you. YOU are in control – and if you’ve lost that control, then now’s the time to take it back. Last night, more than anything, we discussed late-night snacking. The trick is to break the cycle so your body isn’t expecting that treat! Here are a few suggestions and they have ALL worked. Trial and error is the only way you’re going to find out which one is going to work for you.

  1. Drink WATER! Yes, it sounds fairly ridiculous but we usually snack because we ‘think’ we’re puckish. Unfortunately, we so often confuse hunger with thirst, so instead of immediately reaching for the biscuit tin, reach for the kitchen tap instead. You are probably NOT hungry.
  2. Brush your teeth! There are few of us who like stuffing sticky chocolates and biscuits into our mouths straight after brushing our teeth. Clean teeth feel great and we don’t want to spoil that feeling, so brush your teeth and it’ll give you an extra 20 minutes or so before thinking about snacking again. By that time, well, it’ll be almost bedtime to … just go to bed!
  3. Go to bed! And yes, I have to admit that I’ve done this time and time again. There’s nothing worse than having a really good day ‘foodwise’ and then sabotaging it at the last hurdle when it’s really not necessary. Before it happens, just take yourself to bed with a good book. You WON’T be hungry – because you weren’t hungry in the first place – and you’ll get a better night’s sleep, too!
  4. Paint your nails! A great one! Feeling like you want to raid the biscuit tin? Sit down and paint your nails instead. And no – none of that quick-dry stuff. Make sure you have a bottle of slow-drying varnish and apply at least two coats. You CANNOT EAT when your nails are wet. What can be better? You avoid piling on the calories and come away with beautiful nails as well. Beat that!
  5. Have a bath! Treat yourself! (Oh – and don’t take the biscuit tin up with you – did I mention that?)

It takes 15-20 minutes for a food craving to pass. Make a list of things that YOU can do to fill up those minutes and get rid of the cravings, because we are NOT going to let a simple craving (and that’s all it is – a craving!) to ruin all the effort we’re putting in!

Are we?

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A laugh a day …

06
Oct

My laugh today comes from a post by a writer on one of my favourite sites: The Write Idea. The topic was about long and ridiculous words for phobias, etc. and his contribution was from Gary Larson. Seemingly, antidaeophobia (fictional) is the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.

There’s simply nothing I can add to that without detracting from its silliness.

Just a beautiful poem

05
Oct

Courtesy of Raymond Carver, here’s a poem that I would probably never have come across, save for being asked to read it at my brother’s wedding. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Cherish

From the window I see her bend to the roses
holding close to the bloom so as not to
prick her fingers. With the other hand she clips, pauses and
clips, more alone in the world
than I had known. She won’t
look up, not now. She’s alone
with roses and with something else I can only think, not
say. I know the names of those bushes
given for our late wedding: Love, Honour, Cherish –
this last the rose she holds out to me suddenly, having
entered the house between glances. I press
my nose to it, draw the sweetness in, let it cling – scent
of promise, of treasure. My hand on her wrist to bring her close,
her eyes green as river-moss. Saying it then, against
what comes: wife, while I can, while my breath, each hurried petal
can still find her.

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Countdown to Christmas

04
Oct

Oh yes, here it comes. It’s the dreaded C word – and with it all that that means (including lousy English, apparently!!?): expenses, expenses, expenses, food, flatulence, loss of will power, loss of motivation, loss of fitness diaries, etc. etc. etc. And I honestly think it all starts with food. The battle begins now and will continue over the next 11 weeks. Can I fit back into that LBD or will the expense start with buying a new one – a size or two larger? Will I lose the weight I want to lose over the next 9 weeks and then, just when I think I’m looking pretty damn good, pile it all back on the week before? Because that’s a real favourite of mine – crashing at the final hurdle. I work and work and work and then as soon as my goal is in sight my brain switches off and I blow it. That comes from my mother, by the way – that ‘you’re never going to make it’ syndrome, that I battle constantly.

Well, you know what? I’ve just decided that I AM going to bloody make it this time. In fact, I’ve done pretty well this year with ‘finishing’. I might not have finished everything exactly where I wanted to, but I finished a number of things and I plan to (excuse repetition) ‘finish’ this year off on a good note, too. I WILL see a 9 on the scales (preferably in the ‘stones’ area, not the pounds). It can be accompanied by a 13, but it WILL be a 9.

And how’s this going to come about? Well, I’ve tried a number of magic wands, but I’ll tell you a secret: don’t believe what it says on the box. Magic wands don’t bloody work! What will work is just a little consistency and a whole lot of attitude! If I put my mind to it I know I can do the consistency bit (even if that means that every Saturday is a chocolate day??? – just so long as it’s consistent, right?). Yep. And I picked up a truckload of attitude down at the gym this morning. I found it under the foam roller – a roller that was groaning about as loudly as my knees were. Oh, oh, why were they groaning, I hear you ask? Well, that’d be because I’ve been eating crap for the last month, my knees are f***** and all because I couldn’t keep my face out of the damn fridge. Simples!

But that’s finished now. I’ve got 11 weeks and that’s more than enough time to get back to where I want to be. I’m armed with attitude and ready to go. And I can already hear my knees whispering ‘Thank you’ – not to mention my heart, my lungs and my stomach!

It’s time.  ‘Christmas? Here I come!’ I say. I’ll be ready for you.

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Oh, so cruel

04
Oct

This training lark. It’s just so unforgiving, isn’t it? No respite – not even for an oldie-going-mouldy like me. I mean, you’d think you’d get a little bit of compassion, wouldn’t you? But no! I take a couple of weeks off after finishing the third and final triathlon of my first season and, well, do you think I’m just a little bit behind? Have just a bit of catching up to do to get back to my fitness level of three weeks ago? Oh, no! All the way back to bloomin’ Square One! What a nightmare – and so unfair!

It took me forever to get there. It took me months of working out at increasingly hard levels. And in just three weeks it’s all been sucked out of me. Like an excited child hurriedly sucking up the end of his milkshake through a straw because he doesn’t want to be last in line for a go on the new trampoline. Yep! That’s how quickly my efforts have been drained away.

But hey ho! No time to keep whining and moaning endlessly about what’s not going to happen, eh? Just got to get out there and start again. I’m quite pleased, I suppose, that I realised the pointlessness this morning in saying ‘I’ll start Monday’. I mean, why Monday? Why not right now? Yes, I think that’s definitely one point for me! It’s a start at least, isn’t i?

I’m on my way! 40 minutes on the stepper and … well … I was planning on 20 mins of core afterwards but I felt so rubbish I thought I was going to throw up. Pathetic! But …

I’m on my way. Tomorrow will be better. It will. I know it will. Really! Honest!

(If I keep saying it, I might even begin to believe it or, even better, it might even be true?)

I’ll let you know.

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Live theatre – Great!

03
Oct

Well, I thought it sounded good on the tiny blurb I happened to spy a few weeks ago, but I never expected the impact of The Pillowman. It was simply astonishing and I can’t believe I might have missed it. I don’t often go to the theatre – certainly not on my own, but if this is the standard of theatre at the Brighton Little Theatre, then I’m going to be going there a lot more often. Shocking, hard-hitting, it was wonderful that the director gave us this tale of child abuse and murder, brutality and insanity without ‘softening’ the blow. In fact, quite a few people found it too much to handle and there were several empty seats after the interval. Me? I was enthralled from start to finish. My mind ‘wanders’ easily these days, so something has to be extremely gripping to keep my attention and this play didn’t lose me for one second. The acting was astonishingly good. I don’t know how the main character kept up that level of emotion for so many nights running. I was exhausted just watching him! But …
while I’m on the subject of actors, I very often find it difficult watching my ‘friends’ on stage. It was testament to the acting here that my ‘friends’ almost immediately disappeared and became these characters instead. Congratulations to them.
There really is nothing like live theatre that can transport you to other worlds. In this instance, the world was not one I wish to visit on a daily basis, but one that I’m so, so glad I had the privilege of visiting.
Then again, was it the best theatre I’ve ever seen? Erm …………………. Well, there was War Horse, of course …

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