Archive for the ‘Things I don’t like’ Category

Whilst I usually make my own pasta sauces, I do have a favourite commercial sauce that I have been buying for some years now. It’s nothing special – a simple tomato sauce, useful for when I want something quickly. Except that now it seems the manufacturers have discontinued it, keeping the other tomato sauce (of the same brand) that I don’t like nearly as much.

I have a large blister on the bottom of each foot, developed after I a) wore relatively new sandals into the city last week, and then b) had to race back to my carpark when I realised I was running/had run out of time on the meter.

Political discussions amongst friends and their friends on Fb, whilst interesting, are going to make my head explode. I’m torn between a) reading them, exposing myself to alternative opinions but risking raising my blood pressure/heart rate/stress levels, and b) ignoring them, sticking to a variety of respected news outlets, and losing that personal understanding of politics and motivations.

This summer hasn’t really been summer for those of us in Wellington yet, as we have been tormented by spring conditions – low temperatures, and high winds.

But fortunately there is almost always a bright side, and these are:

  1. I generally like my own pasta sauces (including recipes received from fellow bloggers) better than the bought ones
  2. My blisters are healing, and I didn’t get a parking ticket, and
  3. Today is a lovely sunny day, as predicted by a spectacular sunset last night (photographed from my deck).



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I’ve often talked about earthquakes in New Zealand, especially since the destructive Christchurch earthquake in 2012, and the fact that here in Wellington we live on a major fault-line, stuck right above the boundary of  the Pacific tectonic plate and the Australian plate. It is always at the back of our minds here, and now, after a major 7.8 earthquake struck in the north of the South Island two weeks ago it has once again been brought to fore. We were fortunate to be out of town, comfortable in our bed in the gorgeous resort town of Queenstown in the south of the South Island, completely oblivious that the earth had moved so much, until we were woken by my phone beeping, with texts asking if we were okay.

I hate earthquakes, and I have ever since I moved to Wellington, so I guess choosing a house on stilts on the side of a steep hill wasn’t the wisest decision, given that it moves (as it is designed to do) and shakes in the wind let alone in an earthquake. I’m glad I wasn’t here for the rocking and rolling and shaking my friends, family and neighbours experienced in Wellington, which was still so many times better than what the residents of North Canterbury and Marlborough and Kaikoura endured, and came home to a house that came through completely unscathed, which could have been very different, as I am sure it has been (or will be) for my friend from Kaikoura who was in the US on a holiday at the time.

This time last week I was in the home of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc when I experienced a couple of aftershocks, each around a magnitude 5. I found that for the first time the shaking didn’t bother me, as – unlike any earthquakes I’ve experienced here in my precariously situated home in Wellington, or even the aftershocks experienced a few days earlier on the fifth floor of an apartment block in Christchurch –  I was staying in a single story hotel room, and felt very secure and safe so close to the ground.

As my hairdresser said to me this morning, whilst these earthquakes – so soon (in the scheme of things) after the Christchurch earthquakes) – might not have materially affected our houses, they have changed the way we think. They have reminded us to consider preparations for a repeat or bigger earthquakes, including (but not only) simple things like:

  • using Blu-tac to secure pictures or photos or other breakables in cabinets and on shelves and on our walls (thanks to my Christchurch friend for this advice), or
  • to ensure we have comfortable shoes when we leave the house (and maybe socks, so we don’t get blisters trying to walk home), or
  • the need to attach some key pieces of furniture to our walls (an example of basic earthquake preparedness), or
  • the advisability of retaining a landline and a phone that works without needing power charging, or perhaps the need to ensure that we have extra supplies of necessary medication with us whenever we leave the house, or
  • the foresight to maintain our cars with at least half a tank of petrol (gas),
  • to always have some cash in our wallets (NZers are high users of EFTPOS, and often don’t carry any cash), and
  • not to eat all our emergency canned food supplies simply because we forget or can’t be bothered to replenish them.

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I used to think that someone had “just” broken their ankle, perhaps because it seemed reasonably common and I’d never had cause to think about it seriously. Now, unfortunately, I know that broken ankles involve complicated joints, that internal swelling might last for up to a year and prevent a full range of movement, and that as a result, healing can take a long time – and that is completely normal. This is a good lesson to show compassion to anyone who suffers an injury I have never experienced.

Why do people tell someone who has suffered an accident that they will never heal fully, and/or that their injured part will “never be the same again?” Three people have unhelpfully said this to me about my broken ankle, either unthinkingly or deliberately ruining my day.

First, it is the expectation of my medical advisors that I will rehabilitate and get back to normal again, as long as I do all my physiotherapy, so unless you are a surgeon, sports doctor or physiotherapist, how would you actually know? Secondly, what does this statement achieve, other than ruining my day, and reminding me never to seek empathy from them in the future?

I guess that’s why I haven’t told quite so many people about my ruined knee … well, until now.

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I heard the other day that a media commentator was predicting the obsolescence of the written word on social media in just a few years, replaced instead by small videos.

I shuddered.

Okay, I might want to see some, because I would love to see (and hear) my international friends and family in a small video, to feel more connected to them, but they need to be interspersed with words, written words, too. I wouldn’t be recording small videos to make my posts either – I don’t do selfies, so I’m hardly like to do selfie-videos.

I check social media and other online sites when I’m doing other things, or when I’m already listening to spoken words or watching people or images, or in public places where playing video isn’t appropriate. I want to be able to scan something quickly (an article, a post, a recipe), and decide if I want to return to it later, or give it my full attention now, but I can’t preview a video, instead I’m reliant on the pace, the content, and the volume that are all set by someone else. Videos take the control away from me, and I already dislike their growing prevalence.

Do you prefer words or video?

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Studies regularly point out that loneliness can be deadlier than obesity or smoking, especially in your old age. Just do a search, and you’ll find many references. Clearly, friendships and other relationships nurture us in ways that are more than merely emotional. Whilst it is sad enough that elderly folks are lonely (or that anyone is lonely, to be honest), it is beyond sad that their loneliness may shorten their lives and bring them physical ailments that limit their lives, and isolate them even further.

It made me think about my life. Right now, I’m spending weeks stuck inside, on my own. My husband is working hard and of course has been looking after his parents over the last few weeks. I joked – sort of – to him that it was okay, I clearly knew that I was ranked at least third in his life, behind his parents and work, right now at least. My friends were busy at work, or travelling, or busy with kids during school holidays. So I’ve been feeling a bit lonely really. I know that this will pass, though, and I’m counting the days till I will more easily be able to navigate the steep driveway and road to my car, and will once again get the freedom to travel independently and spend time with other people!

My old age might be different, though. We don’t have children, so won’t have them popping in to visit – now or when I’m old. (I’m presuming I’ll be lucky enough to grow old, of course, which is not guaranteed at all!) I look at my in-laws, and whilst I’m glad that they still have each other against the odds, I am sad that they don’t really have friends, and increasingly, only have my husband and me. I think that’s a danger of being part of a couple, whether or not you have children. It is easy to focus inwards, rather than to nurture outside relationships as well. It is also easy to assume that your children will be there for you, that they’re your insurance against loneliness when the evidence is that this often isn’t the case. And by the time you’ve lost some of your independence, it’s too late to build that support network you didn’t realise you needed.

Ultimately, I realise that in preparing for my old age, I’m going to have to build friendships and other relationships. More relationships than I currently have, probably. There are many ways to do this, of course. But most importantly, I think simply preparing for my old age, being aware of the fact that I have to create and nurture my relationships, rather than rely on blood or familial relationships, will hopefully help ensure that I won’t be lonely. Internet relationships are good, but they can’t pop in when you’re hungry for the sound of another voice, for the feel of someone’s hand on your shoulder, or need practical help.

Which is why I’m feeling grateful for my friends this week, popping in with ANZAC biscuits, or staying over last night – as Peony did – to chat (or perhaps, listen to me rant), and cook me a delicious pumpkin risotto. I don’t take these relationships for granted, and I hope I never will.

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It’s been over a week since I broke my ankle, and I miss being able to walk, to climb stairs, to go to the gym, to shower easily – in fact, to do anything easily. We take our mobility (if we are lucky enough to have it in the first place) for granted, until it is taken away. 

I also miss my laptop. Writing on my iPad as I hold it in one hand reclining in bed or on the couch or even at the table with my foot elevated isn’t very comfortable, and my Swype Keyboard that makes this possible is both my best friend and an infuriating frustration. It means I can write with one hand, but its predictive text is odd (the one on my Samsung phone is so much better), and so my text is filled with typos that constantly need correcting.

My desk is in the top floor of this five-level house, so my husband is going to set up my computer temporarily in the dining room. But I can’t yet sit there comfortably, without pain and numbness in my foot, so I’m relying on my iPad in the meantime.

Hence, I’m posting a #Microblog Monday post on Tuesday … from my bed.

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I’ve had an educational week. These are some of the things I have learned:

After years of saying that my in-law’s steep staircase down to their basement and garage was made for tiny feet, and warning my elderly in-laws to be very careful, I should have listened to my own comments and advice more attentively. Do as I say, not as I do. It’s good advice.

It is possible, even whilst falling down the aforementioned staircase, to fear that the aforesaid elderly in-laws might also fall, and call out to them to stay where they are, even as I’m coming to a halt.

In another instance of do as I say, not as I do, I waited two days before seeking medical help. I was hoping it was only a sprain. I could put just enough weight on my left foot to be able to hobble or hop forward, provided I was holding onto my husband or some support. But after two days it was worse not better, so we headed off to the urgent clinic. Once again we are always urging the elderly in-laws to get to the doctor, to get ailments and medical issues that are worrying them checked out by professionals. Do as I say, not as I do. Yes, I might eventually learn this lesson.

I’ve never had a broken bone that required a cast before. (A broken little toe was untreatable.)  I had three casts in 24 hours. One was cut off within two hours, after I transferred from the urgent clinic to the Emergency Department at the hospital. The second stayed with me overnight, and was sawn off the next morning at the hospital. I’ve had to put trust in medical professionals before. But there’s nothing quite like learning firsthand an appreciation of their skills and concentration when they’ve got an electric saw in their hand cutting through a cast.
Also, I learned how they put on a cast. It is a surprisingly unsophisticated process.

I learned that I didn’t have much of a reaction to the gas and air (nitrous oxide) offered during a painful procedure. I was quite disappointed. Or perhaps I just didn’t have enough!

I renewed my appreciation of our healthcare system. It had been dented by my mother’s experiences, but not even 24 hours after first walking (ok, being wheeled) into the Emergency Department, I had had an operation, with screws and plates holding the broken bones in my ankle together while they heal, at no personal expense.

I learned how an asthmatic must feel. I had a difficult reaction to the breathing tube, and spent some minutes gasping for air. It was frightening. But I learned too that my yoga breathing techniques helped me keep as calm as I could (I didn’t feel calm, but I’d just woken up) until the medication made the air come more easily.

I learned that taking stairs on crutches is scary. I’m trying to gain confidence and technique. I’m learning to take it slowly. I’m learning that when necessary, going up and down on my butt will do just fine.

I’m learning that taking care of myself is going to be tough. For example, today is the last Pasta and Chardonnay night of the season. But I’ve learned that I can’t carry chardonnay when I’m on crutches! The pasta, too, is going to have to wait till my husband gets home after golf tonight. It’s not all bad though, if I can convince him to cook it or me!

I only arrived home last night. I’m sure I will learn a lot more over the next six weeks.

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