Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

I feel as if I’ve written about this before, but can’t find anything in any of my blogs, so forgive me if I am repeating myself.

I’ve spent the last week watching the Commonwealth Games, and have had little thought for anything else this week. Even travel. (Though we may have made a momentous and unusual travel decision – that is, not to travel right now! It’s not certain though. I’ll report later.) As always, I have loved watching the athletics. I know what it feels like to be on a track, or out in the field, and relive my not-so-glorious days as an athlete. My earliest memory of athletics is at a school sports day. Once a year, our tiny country school would get together with other equally tiny country schools in the district, combining forces to have a sports day. (It’s hard to run races at your school if you’re the only girl in your year, for example.) I didn’t really know what was going on, was put in a race, they said go, and everyone started running. I loped along, and came fifth. I think I only realised later that I was supposed to run as fast as I could! It took some years before it really sunk in. By the time I was maybe 11 or 12, I had figured it out, and was doing better. I wasn’t a natural, like my younger cousin Stephen, who used to lope around our small school track, looking bored but beautiful and deceptively fast. But I had some power and speed. And learned how to use it.

When I got to the much bigger district High School, I found I was still competitive. By now I was almost fully grown, with the height and speed and hand-eye coordination that meant I could perform reasonably well in most sports. So for a few weeks after the summer holidays, I would train with the swimming team, then I’d switch to athletics, though had been attending a few meetings from New Year or even New Year’s Eve (terrible timing) onwards, before switching in late summer/autumn to netball, where I excelled (as did my younger sister). For one or two years only, I played tennis in the spring. My last year at my local high school (my last year of high school was in Bangkok) saw me win the Sportsgirl of the Year award.

Netball was the only sport where I actually had coaches who knew what they were doing. Everything else (and you can throw in various aspects of netball there too) was self-taught, or perhaps more specifically, mother-taught. We knew little about training, fitness, etc. We did it for the pure enjoyment. But to learn the appropriate techniques, my mother bought a book explaining how to do most athletic disciplines – I remember studying it, teaching myself how to shot put or do a crouch start, running through high jumps etc in my head, and sitting on the floor stretching for the hurdles.

My mother was great at improvising. She took a number of large sacking bales (for wool) and stuffed them with hay, sewing them shut. They became our high jump mats. We set them up under an old farm building, and taught ourselves to high jump, using the Fosbury Flop technique. We had to be careful to fluff up the mats after each jump, or at least every two or three jumps, or we risked a hard landing. We had to be careful they were well placed, or we’d slide off and into the wood pile, or other farm implements or parts of the building. I guess they taught us how to be precise in our take offs and therefore landings. But we always held back a little, so it was wonderful when we went once a week to the local athletics club, where they had real high jump mats. Oh, and we also practised long jump in the former rose garden.

Yes, that’s right. The rose garden. My mother and father had been planning to build a new house for many years, but there was a complication, in that the farm had always been promised to my dad (as he had farmed it since he was 13 for his mother and five younger siblings) but wasn’t yet legally his. My mother spent years planning the house, getting her hopes up then spending months not thinking or talking about it. Finally, though, they knew it was going to happen, even if it took another year or two to complete. My mother promptly dug up the rose garden (where the new house was to be built, and maybe to make a point too) to make a long jump pit for my younger sister and myself. We would start at the entrance to the garden and house by the huge hedge, sprint round a bush and past the swing, down a small slope, past a straggly apple tree, around the corner of the house, and leap into the former rose garden.

We weren’t competing for gold in the Commonwealth or Olympic Games, or even at the National Championships. But I can’t say I didn’t imagine a few moments of golden glory.

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I’m trying to keep typing to the minimum at the moment, as I get treatment on a very sore arm. So I thought maybe today would be a good day for a picture post with a few recent photos taken at home:

Tui are ever present in the trees immediately outside our kitchen/dining room glass doors. But they rarely stay still long enough to snap a photo, which is why I’m pleased with these:

We’ve had some interesting sunsets recently:

And these cheese scones, despite being tasty, looked good too:

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An occasional series.

Reading: Well, since my last Right Now post, I’ve been reading up a storm, reading over 20 books! And that’s including June which was a slow book month. My reading levels go up and down, but this year I’m on a roll, and enjoying good books keeps me reading new ones. So I’ll just pick out my favourites, all of which I gave five stars on Goodreads:

  • I loved After the Tampa by Abbas Nazari, so much that I actually blogged about it last week. You can read that here.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather
  • The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
  • Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

That’s an eclectic group of stories, fiction and non-fiction, fun and devastating and inspiring, sometimes all at once, and are e-books and audiobooks. There were some others I enjoyed and gave four stars, including Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You?, Richard Powers’ Bewilderment, Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle, and Sosuke Natsukawa’s charming young adult book in The Cat Who Saved Books.

I feel exhausted looking at that list of books. It’s no wonder in the last month I’ve reverted to very easy reading, some more satisfying than others, none of it really noteworthy.

Watching: In these days of binge-watching, it’s hard to remember what I watched last week, let alone three months ago. But there were one or two shows that were notable, mainly because I got a three-month free subscription to Apple+ and could discover the joys of The Morning Show (loved it), Ted Lasso (didn’t like it the first five or so shows, but then fell for it hard), Slow Horses (wonderful), Severance (weird but interesting), Tehran (great, exciting), and our favourite, For All Mankind, which shows an alternative world that might have eventuated had the Soviets won the race to the moon, is really well made, and is fascinating to contemplate.

We haven’t been to many movies, but really enjoyed Mincemeat. It is about a WWII operation, and stars the lovely Colin Firth.

Listening: With wintry weather, I’m not getting quite as much exposure to audiobooks because I’m not walking outside. Yesterday, though, I was reading and had a lovely afternoon listening to some classical music, the first time I had done that in ages. It was exquisite, and often interrupted my reading, just to listen, blissed out. An excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Following: Tennis. The French Open and Wimbledon have kept me entertained, and have disrupted my sleep, as I like to watch the games live, rather than risk waiting till the morning, and accidentally discovering the results before I get to the replays on TV. Otherwise, I’m not following too much else, except the covid infection rates here and overseas of course, and I’m keeping an eye on the 6 January hearings in the US, but lately I’ve been less obsessive about reading the news (which has probably helped my reading).

Drinking: Lots of tea because it’s cold – Earl Grey, a berry-flavoured superfruit tea, green tea with lemon, and chamomile. And the occasional coffee when we go out, or my husband makes my day and brings one home.

Cooking and Eating: Bread, as I blogged about here, every couple of weeks. Cheese scones have become a regular thing, which is not good because of all the cheese in them, but they are soooo good! So a lot of carbs, though we are trying to cut down, and at least if we’re eating bread, we’re not eating sweet things! It’s winter, so I’m having soups for lunch more, which is lovely. And there’s nothing like a good curry on a cold winter’s night! Likewise, a good roast. I like to do one about once or twice a year, so we had a tiny lamb roast a few weeks ago, with yummy gravy and roast root vegetables, and stir-fried brussel sprouts. Winter is the time for comfort food!

Wearing: My winter uniform of black yoga pants or black jeans, black thermal top, and a black hoodie when necessary (usually necessary inside at this time of year). When I go out it is the same thing, but with a different top rather than the hoodie.

Hoping: I’m hoping that I didn’t make the wrong decision. I’ve put a hold on a domestic trip I had been planning due to the rise in covid cases, the cancellations of flights, etc. Not to mention the price of the trip. I regret having to do that, but if I got covid (and spread it to a more vulnerable person I would be visiting) I might regret it more. Sigh.

Appreciating: Our ACC system, that is giving me physiotherapy on an elbow injury that I sustained in October. I had a few sessions back then, and thought it was clearing up, but the last few months it has deteriorated again. Turns out it was accentuated by a pinched nerve, and so I’ve been getting weekly treatments. I am getting tired of my arm being painful, and of being unable to reach for or pick up items easily. And it means I haven’t been able to knit for ages. But the last few days there’s been a noticeable improvement. I hope that continues.

Experiencing: Crazy gale force winds at the moment. The house is shaking, the noise of the wind in the trees is loud, branches laden with pine cones are falling off our pine trees and crashing on the deck, and something on the roof is rattling, and I really don’t like that. The Husband just went on a walk, got blown off the footpath around by the park, and commented that the houses there must experience the wind even worse than we do. I guess that’s a consolation?

Contemplating: The place of a specific cause in my life. I’ve devoted 20 years to it, and although it is important to me, and I have met some wonderful people as a result, I am trying to decide if I’m ready to step back a little now. Though I know I would miss it. Decisions, decisions!

Anticipating: Getting to travel again. If the current worldwide rise in cases doesn’t get too out of control, we have a trip that’s not TOO far from home (only a four hour time difference) in mind, though we have yet to make any bookings. Deciding exactly when to make a commitment might be the hard part! And I have some ideas for next year too, if all goes well.

Loving: My workouts to Youtube videos inside, rather than braving the wind (as I mentioned, it is diabolical today) or the rain. I need low impact, knee-protecting, workouts, but there are plenty online. I mix it up, between those which are walking workouts, low impact with a dance twist, or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), depending how I’m feeling. I really like the fitness I am getting, and the convenience of the workouts.

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series every few months here on A Separate Life.

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