Sunday, 23 March 2014

Life, Unplugged

Right.  It would appear that I have been missing in action for so long, that instead of the promised post on probiotics. I do find it necessary to do another round-up post first.  Don't worry though - I do listen to you lot, and the probiotics post will follow at some point - I just need to sort out something first before I am ready to publish.  It will all become clear, eventually.  I promise.
Anyway - it all started with picking up a virus  from work.  It's exam and dissertation time, the eating and sleeping part of the students' lives is relegated to an even further back burner than is usual, their immune systems are in shutdown.... And being the kind, sharing young human beings that they are, they all then come to the library to share their germs with the staff.  Well, why suffer alone ?
Normally, when I get to the point where every five minutes there is someone coughing and sneezing at my shoulder, I make sure I increase my intake of the aforementioned probiotics, as well as remember to take regularly some of my homemade elderberry and clove syrup, plus Echinacea, bee propolis, extra garlic with everything, or whatever in the way of natural antibiotics I happen to have in stock.  In this way, I managed to get through most of the year without picking up any of the cold, flu or gastric viruses that were doing the rounds. 
Occasionally, however, other areas of my life intrude on this cunning plan, and as this time my daughter is suffering from pre-coursework, pre-exam stress (despite by best efforts and attempts to get her settled on Kalms), just as I was starting to feel that first tickle of a respiratory bug trying to gain a foothold in my system, she had a mini-meltdown and needed extra attention to get her stable again, and I neglected to put my own oxygen mask on (one of the two principles that I try to lead my life by - the "oxygen mask" principle means that you are no use to anyone else unless you take care of yourself first; the "run over by the bus" principle has nothing to do with making sure you have clean underwear on, much to my mother's chagrin, but means lead your life with one eye on the fact that you might well be run over by the bus tomorrow - do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today; do not put off your living for the promise of better times coming; do not save your life for a rainy day even though it's bucketing it down already. Digression over, as you were, folks, let's try and climb out of this parenthesis with minimum damage to life and limb, shall we ?)
Right, where was I ?  Oxygen mask.  Meaning that, not for the first time, in looking after my daughter I neglected to look after myself and was struck down by a cold.
Which in itself really isn't anything to write home about.  However, with me, getting struck down by anything is likely to set off a fibro flare, and this is exactly what happened, with the result that what was really just a cold felt like a bad bout of flu - meaning that for a few days I could not really do anything other than watch my rainbow maker in action.
Pretty, ain't they ?
And then I got back to work, and on the first day back, got stuck in a two hour meeting in a stuffy room (it was a good meeting, our big boss is a cool bloke, but the room really did lack air), and came home with a raging migraine.  Another day lost.  I did try taking my painkillers and chasing them with coffee asap, but it was one of my very infrequent nauseous migraines, which means I puked them up almost as soon as I took them.  And then kept puking. And puking. And puking some more.  Somewhere along the line I realised that the splitting increase in splitting pounding head and trigeminal nerve pain also resulted in various other muscles relaxing without me realising, with the charming result that every time I finally managed to pull my head out of the loo bowl, I found I was kneeling in a puddle of liquid that, unnoticed by me, evacuated from my bladder. 
Classy, huh ?
Luckily, my sense of humour was undamaged by the experience, and I did eventually, once the head stopped pounding and the stomach churning, have a good chuckle at the sheer indignity of a human body out of control.  We are funny creatures, aren't we ?  Such intricate, powerful systems, each and every one of us - when things are going as they should.  Something gets disconnected though, a few chips burn out, a cowboy tradesman or two get loose on the internal circuits... And we become a shambles.  So quickly, so thoroughly, so bemusingly.
But that, too, did pass.  The next day I somehow managed to get temporarily unstuck in time, turning up at work a full hour early, whilst fully convinced I was bang on time, but it was a sunny, warm morning, and an hour sitting around soaking up the rays did me a world of good.  I have even managed to survive one night onna sofa bed (woke up feeling grotty, but loadsabetter now),  with another one to come, but hey ho, done it before, will do it again. 
And we have been busy eating up our cupboards.  As I slowly recovered, bread got baked, and a batch of English muffins - both made with half chapatti and half self raising flour;  and as semolina has been finished off already, the muffins took care of some of the fine cornmeal.  Oatmeal and more of the flour were used to make Staffordshire oatcakes; there was a bucket of chilli on the go on the night of my uber-migraine, which I did not sample till the next day, only to find out once again that trying to cook when half dead is not always the best plan of action - it just wasn't very nice.  I have been eating it for my lunches since, though - I can manage with the "not very nice" from time to time, especially when I am the one responsible for the not-very-niceness of it.  Oh, and a couple of AF cake mixes got mixed up and baked in brownie trays as "marble cake traybakes".  Yummy, and my marbling is coming along nicely - only took me twenty years to get the hang of it.  Moral of the story: never give up.
Now, what usually follows when one eats from stores is a reduction in weekly shopping bills, but I fear that, for us, that has not been the case - largely because I have been taking advantage of any paleo-friendly bargains which can be set aside until we have eaten up the stores.  This is last week's haul from Lidl:  lean pork, olive oil, frozen Pollock fillets, walnuts, nuts and sultanas; the last three all at prices lower than the best bulk-buy prices I have been able to find so far (and of course, it does mean I do not have to buy 5kg at once !)
And of course, whilst all this has been going on, I've mostly been unplugged.  In fact, I try to lead as much of my life as I possibly can just that way - unplugged.  From the telly, the computer, the phone, the whatever infernal gadgets are deemed to be necessary for our internal or external well-being these days. 
I mean, do not get me wrong - I am not a Luddite; not to any great extent, anyway; and I would not willingly choose to give up the Internet.  Apart from the sheer usefulness of it in terms of saving money, price comparing, occasional shopping at the click of a button, the mind-boggling convenience of it all..... I am very much aware that without the internet I would not have met a large number of people who I am now proud to count as my friends; and many others whose acquaintance has enriched my lives, even if sometimes this was despite their best efforts.  And of course, the clincher - my best friend, my other half, would have been extremely unlikely to ever cross my path, had there not been for the web.  So the benefits and the beauty of the medium are very firmly fixed in my mind.
But does that really mean that one should be plugged into it 24/7 ?  That anyone's life will be poorer, or deprived, should they have to wait before they get home and power up their desktop or laptop in order to check the updates to their Facebook and Twitter accounts ?  I went on a team night out with work just before Christmas, and whilst most of the evening was spent in the good old-fashioned face to face verbal interaction, a point came in the evening - right about the point, in fact, when the nicotine addicts felt that slipping out for their hit of tobacco could not be delayed any longer - when people started pulling out their smartphones and checking their messages.  Within a couple of minutes everything was silent and I was the only one without a gadget in my hand. 
Sure, I do carry a mobile phone about - an antique model (about five years old) good for texting and phone calls; and absolutely no internet access.  I would not dream of going out without it, in case of emergencies - but I do wonder how we all coped a decade or two ago, before mobile phones became ubiquitous.  I do remember using pay phone booths quite frequently as a child and teen, or making calls home from a pal's landline - suspect that had something to do with it. 
And I'm afraid I just do not get on with Facebook, even if the monster does share my birthday.  I got quite excited a few years back when I finally caved in and created an account - I think I may have been after printable coupons for money off products to start with - I got excited because a lot of people that I was friends with at school and have subsequently lost touch with had accounts, so I merrily added them fondly imagining that this will lead to establishing dialogue once again.... Except it never did.  It would appear that, for many people using it, the fact that updating Faceache updates all your friends at once does away with the need to communicate one-on-one with any of them..... And that's just not me.
Of course, it could just be that they never really liked me anyway :o)  Either way, the wretched thing turned out to be useless to me, and just knowing it's there seems to created an unnecessary feeling of stress and obligation to check it every once in a while.... When I find that I still can't make any sense of it.   So I've made a decision - I am unplugging myself from it.
Which brings me, in a very round about way, to yet another point - I have had a few suggestions from (no doubt) well meaning and helpful people as to how I can make this blog available and accessible to a larger readership, and they included advice such as - connect to Facebook and Twitter (and some other social media sites that mean so little to me I don't even remember what they're called).  I hope the above goes some way towards explaining why I'll not be doing this any time soon.
Another one was - less wordiness, snappier, more regular posts, more pictures.  Whilst I shall endeavour to do something about the "more regular" part, to the rest, I fear that my reply will have to be - I'm so sorry, but that is just not me.
And you see..... I have been writing for money, on and off, since I was eleven.  I can write for a particular purpose, in a particular style, for a particular market - and if you would like me to, and have something to offer in return, do get in touch ;o)  But this is not what this blog is for.  This blog's purpose is threefold - creativity, communication, and connections.  Whilst I appreciate that being shorter and more to the point would aid communication wand connections with plugged-in, time-poor multitudes, I fear that I have no particular desire to connect with this stratum of the society.  If you have been using some of your own precious time in reading my blatherings, and are now being put off because it bloody....long...and will she ever finish ????  - then I am truly sorry if my refusal to play the game will send you packing, but you know  what - if you find yourself leading a simpler, slower life in the future, I will still be here; and when you have time, we'll talk.
And in order for us to talk, and create, hopefully, a more meaningful relationship as time goes on, I have taken one piece of advice on board, and created a "contact me" page which, as yet, consists of nothing more than my email address; this may or may not change, we shall see - but as things stand at the moment, I understand that there are people who sometimes wish to talk, or ask questions, and are not necessarily happy to do so in the comments;  if this is you, feel free to email me;  but do understand that I communicate at speed of tortoise, not the speed of hare, and that time may pass between replies.  Not something any of us  are that well used to any longer.... But perhaps it's time we tried.  At least sometimes.




  1. Lidl is great for the nuts. I love those fresh pistachios. Seeds have a small discount this week and I thought of you which made me smile.

    I like your blog exactly as it is, and not because of the snap element of the blasted fibro.

    1. We tend to miss out on Lidl somewhat as it's the one supermarket that's quite a kerfuffle to get to - but for the half price meat it's well worth making the effort; so I just need to be sufficiently organised to remember things like nuts when I know we'll be making the trip anyway. Should be easier when the shopping list reads: meat, fruit, veg, nuts, anyways ;o)

  2. Brand new to your blog & I loved your post today. Kudos. Am often more of a lurker, sorry, but will endeavor to post a comment or two when inspired. I read your paleo vs nourishing traditions post too, and I liked that one. I am not sure about the whole paleo thing, although your experiment will be interesting to follow. I don't see myself going paleo any time soon tho :-) BUT I will share that I have pretty much given up sugar, and I find when I do have it that my arthritis pains and aches recur. And if I have it several days in a row, I start to get a very painful locking finger joint from inflammation of the tendons. So, what we eat definitely can affect out health!

    1. Hello and welcome, Lynne - and it's great to hear that giving up sugar has helped your arthritis. My mum considers white sugar to be "one of the four white riders of the Apocalypse", together with white flour, white fat and salt. My dad is addicted to the stuff though so she never managed to ban it from the house though, lol.

  3. What an interesting post and thought provoking post. Went out last night to my brother's 60'th birthday bash, and it is only after reading this that I realised that, yes, people were checking their phones, but it didn't get intrusive. Which it often does.
    Oh, actually, I have just realised. We were at a country pub, and there wasn't much of a signal. That probably had more to do with it, hahaha
    Really good point about living your life in the moment. I tend to be one of those people who assume there is plenty of time and I can put off the good things until later, and of course, there may not be. I shall try harder to live my life on

    1. Note to self: make sure from now on that all social occasions are taking place in venues with no mobile phone signal. Sorted !

  4. What a great post Allegra. Sorry you've been feeling so rough, I do hope you and your daughter are feeling much better now. I absolutely loathe Facebook, and I hate when people check their phones all the time. So rude! Hope you have a good week, CJ xx