Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Renovations Grind On ...

Living room, hall and front door
Photo by R de Heer
While my floors are being resealed I am living in my new back extension. No books, just the laptop and mobile. The modem working away in a far room. Everything but the basics are packed into the spare bedroom.

My house is 95 years old, old for this area which was settled in 1830s by cedar-getters. Forty years later the timber was gone and people started clearing the forest for farming.

The town began in the 1880s. My house was built in 1918, as a rental. The then owners lived next door, in the house still known as Cosy Corner.

Over the years that I have lived here I have had many visits of people who once lived here or had some connection with it. One lady (in her eighties at the time) came to ask for cuttings of the rose bush out front planted by her mother.

An elderly gentleman came one morning for a yarn. He was the baker's boy in the 1940s. He'd come to work in the dawn, harnessing up the horse, driving the cart round to the bakehouse and taking the bread around the town.

A plasterer working on the new extension used to play  with one of the kids living here.

While the varnish dries and cures I am spending my sitting time coming to grips with the story I'm working on. Writing a Scene Map with the various Plot Points for each scene, and protagonist's Internal Journey as shown by his Externalizations (IE his behaviour). Capitalised words are the headings I'm working under.

As usual I forgot to do the Scene Map before I started writing, meaning I'm having a lot of trouble in various areas making the facts fit. Reap what you sow, as the saying goes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Biggest Thing in a Big Year, So Far

Excellent health has been my most unattainable precious attribute for about fifteen years now. Six years ago a doctor who shall remain nameless prescribed an anti acid for me to control stomach acid. Less stomach acid in its turn was to control the tendency of my stomach cycling through breakfast so fast that I'd be feeling shaky with a tendency towards fainting due to hunger, from about mid morning.

I remember asking why an anti acid and I remember being told "It's OK to do without the acid. We don't really need it." I accepted it. In those days I wasn't  paranoid yet. About seven months ago a young GP refused me the drug, quite correctly as it turned out, as the drug is not meant to be prescribed for longer than six weeks.

Which I learned from a different doctor. Also different in that he listens to his patients. The problems I have been having with my legs, facial muscles, nerve pain etc all point to nutrient deficiencies as a result of not much nutrient uptake in the stomach where it is meant to happen, and increased sensitivities to a host of foods. IE I had a cherry at a party last weekend and was nauseous for the rest of the day.

This all led to the doc suggesting I try the low-FODMAP diet. Hard word to remember, it is actually an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. The way I pressed it into my brain was by making it into FOD(der) MAP, a map for eating fodder. Joking of course.

It's what I have been doing. Researching and downloading recipes. Off-loading my stores to people who can still eat beans, peas, lentils etc. Coming to grips with the changes. I can eat 12 fruits and 33 vegetables from the list. No dairy foods. I don't see eggs or carrots on the list, two of my favourites.

I will be infusing olive oil with garlic and throwing the garlic away. I will be baking bread with teff. Both these recipes and more from Fructose Free Me where I found the explanation and a swag of information. I will be digging under the carrots and soy beans growing in my garden, planting capsicum and lettuces instead.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Knitting Hands

My mother knits. Though she now knits nothing but striped socks, the whole family has garments left from when she still knitted jumpers, lace shawls, baby layettes, panne-lappen, dish cloths, you name it she would have a go.

She has knitted so much in her life that her hands seem to have shaped themselves for knitting. She casts on and off, and handles the needles (knitting pins, some people call them) the traditional Dutch way.

Knitting Hands Knitting Socks
After she had a brain operation six years ago, it took her some weeks to retrieve the pattern of socks from her memory. Since that time her family calculates she has knitted nearly a thousand pairs.

She is slowing down now, but still producing about three pairs a fortnight. She has always knitted for family. And for overseas guests of the family. Christmas and birthdays. There are plenty of us. And for the various money raising stalls run by the facility where she lives.

Then she added knitting socks for a Domestic Violence Support Group, a whole class of Indigenous children, orphans in Mongolia, and great grand children when they started to come along.

The socks are always striped. Stripes help with the counting. Her eyes are as old as her hands.

The socks are made of an acrylic yarn, ideally with 10% nylon. Though such yarn is more difficult to get now. We don't use much wool yarn here, high humidity means a high moth count. And besides, she'll tell you, acrylic doesn't wear into holes so quickly. There is after all not much sock-mending going on these days.

The colours are also an important part. I bet there a couple of hundred colour combinations out in the world. And always using just two yarns. Often a variegated yarn with a contrasting plain colour.