Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Roof, maybe?


The cleaner came this morning so I had no trouble convincing myself to get out of the house, anything to get away from the chemical smell of cleaning fluids! I'm not sure how I feel about the chemicals, but he does a good job and it's lovely to have a clean house. It doesn't smell for too long. I went for a half hour walk, enjoying the fresh air and buying some apples and tomatoes along the way.

I spent a lot of the day doing some critical reading for someone in my writing group. Their manuscript is really good - I didn't want to stop reading!

There has finally been progress on the roof of my rumpus/studio/junk room. After another call; "oh, didn't he call you back?" the tiler came and did the first half of the work; he had to let something or other dry before he continued. Several hours later it was getting dark, and we went to Jasmine's dance lesson. No idea if he came back to do the second half in the gloaming, or if maybe he'll come back tomorrow. I have organised for the plasterer to finish the inside on Friday. We may actually have a usable room by the weekend! Hopefully it will be waterproof this time. I would love to be able to move all the stuff back in there. We need an exercise section - with the treadmill and the weights and balance disc, and a music section with the drum kit and the keyboard, (we also have a guitar, trumpet, violin, flute and piano accordion but they don't take up so much space so we can keep them in the main house. The drum kit takes up half of Aiden's bedroom.) and a storage section for about a dozen boxes full of books and various other stuff. Christmas decorations, camping stuff that got used once (and not by me!), clothes that might fit me one day... We don't have an attic or basement like I read about other countries having in their houses, so this room is where all this stuff needs to go. It will be so good to have the room usable again, and with new flooring and a ceiling that doesn't leak! And the main house less full of clutter.

I've been testing my blood glucose and so far the only thing that sent my levels high was that same chocolate I had after the pasta yesterday. Today I had some by itself, so it was a lot less total carbs in one go, but my blood glucose levels still went up high. It was not quality dark chocolate, it was milk chocolate with a sugary filling. Hmm, maybe I can have pasta after all. As long as I have it without a sugar chaser! Everything else I've eaten over the past couple of days has been completely fine - including starchy carbs like the fajitas last night. I will continue to eat a variety of foods and check my blood two hours later so I know my personal limits.

Report card:
Diet: Good.
Exercise: Good.
Water: Still some work to do before bedtime.
Sleep: A bit better, at least my CPAP was working and I kept it on until 5am. Still restless.
Mental health: Good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

No appropriate title springs to mind


I have a pimple on my nose. I need to learn to say, "No, I do not want that sugary food" in Natalie-speak!

After washing my CPAP yesterday it did that thing again last night where it wasn't expelling my outward breaths. This is not a trivial matter, it cannot be used in that state as I'd be re-inhaling my own breath and wouldn't be getting much oxygen. I'd say it was dangerous, except there is no way I wouldn't notice and rip it off. It feels like I'm suffocating straight away when it is doing that. I tried to clean the vents and make sure everything was dry and fiddled with it for a while but couldn't get it working so I gave up. And had a nasty headache this morning. I need to get this sleep thing sorted!

I finished that exercise motivation book "No Sweat". I felt like a lot of it doesn't apply to me, I don't need strategies to find time in the day or give myself permission to put myself first occasionally - although I do look after my family I already have a lot of discretionary time - and I am not trying to force myself to do kinds of exercise I hate - I already know several forms I enjoy if only I can get myself to do them.

But I did get something from it. Mainly that if I keep telling myself I should exercise for various (very valid) reasons then I'm going to resist doing it. It's like being nagged by myself, and nagging never makes you want to do something! The book's suggestion is encouraging myself to exercise because it will be immediately pleasurable. Exercise is not a chore, it is a gift I'm giving myself. Although this is true, it is hard to let go of all the should.

I drove to the library this morning (I had a huge pile of books to return, too many to carry to walk there) then walked along the lake a bit - for pleasure (or so I tried to tell myself). I did enjoy the first 30 minutes. It was bitterly cold earlier, but I had waited long enough that it wasn't too bad as long as I stayed in the sun. I listened to Katy Perry roar, and saw some ducks.
I walked for 45 minutes altogether and the last 15 to get back to the car wasn't so pleasurable, I was a bit tired and very thirsty, but overall it was a nice walk. The main thing I enjoyed was my body moving in harmony with itself.

I've been trying to reduce starchy foods lately (um, apparently except for cake. And potatoes. And some bread) but exercise is supposed to help glucose tolerance so I decided my nice walk meant I could have some pasta for lunch. I made a lovely boscaiola and ate a reasonable amount. I also had three squares of chocolate. Two hours later I tested my blood glucose. 12.8 mmol/L (230 mg/dl in the US). This is totally unacceptable, into the diabetes range. Half an hour later I checked again to see if it had gone down. 14.1 mmol/L (254 mg/dl). Even worse! That is doing my body damage. I think that is the highest I've ever seen it. Another hour later, so three and a half hours after eating, it was down to 8.7 mmol/L which is still not down into normal person range.

It's only a short time since my last official diabetes test and the doctor said to wait two years before doing another one because "you don't have diabetes" - I was 0.2 mmol/L under the official cut-off. But I am going to be more vigilant testing at home and review that decision if it seems appropriate.

Report card:
Diet: I thought good, but blood glucose results say otherwise.
Exercise: Great.
Water: Good.
Sleep: Terrible.
Mental health: Good.

Monday, July 27, 2015



Today I had to deal with a house full of leftovers. There were some proper food items, like the cauliflower soup and pulled pork I had for lunch; and some not-proper food items like the chocolate cake my sister-in-law brought and the cheesecake I made. We ate a little bit of cake (I finished the slice I started yesterday, it was too rich to have a whole slice) and threw the rest away, and we also finished the cheesecake for dessert tonight. Now we have some lollies like jelly snakes which aren't a big temptation for me, and some chocolate which I love but can be moderate with so I think I will be ok from now. That cheesecake was so good though, I just couldn't throw it away. All gone now. There is  also still some of my delicious baked lemon chicken which we will all be having for lunch tomorrow, nothing wrong with that. I had some really good cooking successes on the weekend.  

I did the grocery shopping this morning but was really tired today, worn out from the weekend I guess. I'm also still not sleeping well and struggling with my CPAP. No change there. I had a nap in the afternoon and also lay down for a while after my children got home from school. Headachy and tired.

We are planning to visit France sometime soon, probably early next year. We were talking about this year but then there has been the whole uncertainly of moving/not moving. Tim and I went to Paris as part of a European tour for our honeymoon. We went to the Moulin Rouge and Tim was called up on stage to be the ventriloquist's dummy! He always gets chosen when we go to a live show. He must have the right kind of face. Anyway, we both studied French back in High School (so long ago!) and Jasmine has been learning it this year. Jas and I downloaded an language-learning app tonight and have been practicing. It's a fun way to do it! I can only remember a few words and phrases from nearly 30 years ago so it's almost like starting again but a lot of words look familiar and I can kind-of do the accent. Richard if you're planning to comment in French remember I'm only up to "the cat is black" level! To remember that "chat" is a masculine word I have visualised a cat walking away from me with it's masculinity rather obvious... Newspaper is masculine so I picture a man reading one (no, not naked) but letter is feminine so the paper the letter is written on is pink... Learning another language is tricky! At least it has a lot of similarities to English. I used to study Japanese as well, that was much harder.

Report card:
Diet: Poor (real food plus cake and cheesecake).
Exercise: Poor (none).
Water: Ok.
Sleep: Poor.
Mental health: Ok.

It's another one of those days when my report card looks bad but I don't feel like I have been that bad really. Just tired.

Sunday, July 26, 2015



We had Tim's family here this weekend, seven extra people (so eleven including us). Blow-up mattresses on every clear bit of floor!

I spent Friday in an extremely housewifely manner - shopping all morning (including finding these cushions to style our lounge):

And then I spend all afternoon cooking in preparation for the visitors. And cleaning the house, of course.

Saturday we went ten-pin bowling in the morning, and played board games in the afternoon and evening. Of course I also did a lot of cooking! I love cooking for the family.

Sunday they wanted to go to laser-zone (running around in a dark maze shooting pretend lasers at each other, hits get scored on the body armour but it doesn't hurt like paintball does) but it was booked out, so we walked to the school oval to play cricket.

It was utterly freezing so I turned straight around and came back home to the warm! It gave me a chance to get started on lunch, anyway. Everyone else returned when it started to rain, and we played another board game.

It was my birthday a few weeks ago so I was given a cake:
(This is the leftover quarter, not a slice!) We had it for dessert after lunch, then everyone settled into a stupor for an hour or so - except for my two year old niece Emma who ran around with a whistle and a toy sword stopping anyone from slipping into a coma. Then everyone went home (taking most of the leftover cake) and I packed the dishwasher for the billionth time, made dinner for the four of us, and finally got to relax! It was a really great weekend. Sometimes when they go I feel like I've been working the whole time and not enjoying the company, but this time I made time to join in the games.

You don't want to see my report card for the past couple of days, but my mental health is good!

** Just after I wrote this a Current Affairs program came on TV with the subject of how the citizens of Norfolk Island really really don't want to be taken over by Australia. They are nominally part of Australia now, but with their own laws etc. They don't pay taxes or get any government help. The job my husband applied for, and didn't get, was for part of the team to help the year-long transition to full Australian-ness, with our laws and taxes and health care. We knew that some people weren't keen on the idea, but this looks a bit more extreme than we thought. Maybe lucky we didn't go!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Character arc


I had a letter to mail today and it wasn't actually raining (though still rather damp and dreary) so I walked to the post office to mail it. There is a post box much closer than that, but walking for 30 minutes allowed me to buy myself a treat (twisties - cheese flavoured snack food). I haven't finished that motivation book yet, for some reason I'm having trouble getting motivated enough to read it (I've been reading old favourites instead, like Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse, which I always do when I am sick, sad, tired or stressed), but I have got up to one piece of advice which is to tie exercise to something you enjoy. A friend of mine only allows herself to watch a certain favourite show when she is on the treadmill, so that gets her to the gym. I'm not sure treating yourself with junk food is what they meant, but it got me out of the house!

That is three times in the past four days that I have walked, which is a good streak for me.

Other than that, I worked on my novel a bit, which I have also done several times this week. As you will remember, I was given a critique on my early draft by my writing group back in February. It took a little while to recover from hearing that it wasn't perfect, and then my dad got sick and died, and basically I wasn't ready to work on editing it for a while. But I am now. The group gave me lots of nice feedback, but a major criticism was that my main character didn't have any real wants or needs (this is a big flaw!). Things happen to her, like being enslaved and attacked by dragons and so on, but the group asked me "what does she want?" "To go home," I replied. "No she doesn't," they said. "She hardly ever even thinks about home, and she doesn't have anything compelling to make her want to go back. Sure, she doesn't want to get eaten by dragons, no-one does, but that does not give her a great character arc." etc.

For a movie example of how important this is, Bruce Willis in Die Hard doesn't just want to stay alive and maybe rescue a few random people, he desperately want to save his estranged wife whom he still loves. Even a motivation like "saving the entire world" isn't enough, it has to be personal to the protagonist. What matters most to them, what would they go through anything for? Frodo is going to Mount Doom to save the world, but Sam is going to protect Frodo.

This is something that requires a lot of thought and reworking. Part of my heroine's character arc is that she goes from being quite passive to taking control of her life, and that is fine. But she still needs a strong motivation - which may change during the course of her story as she finds out that what she wants maybe isn't what she really needs. Getting buffeted from dramatic event to dramatic event gives her a story-line, but doesn't make her a compelling character who you want to succeed.

So my current work on my novel is more thinking than writing. I get to the end of a session only having written a few notes, but hopefully with more things worked out. Actually most of my ideas arrive when I'm walking, driving, showering, or about to go to sleep. Not so much when I'm sitting with pen and paper!

The tiler came back today and stood on the roof with the garden hose, with me inside waiting for water to come through. Hopefully we have found the problem now, he is coming back tomorrow or early next week to fix it. It supposed to rain tomorrow which would mean it's too dangerous to be up on the roof.

Report card:
Diet: Poor.
Exercise: Good.
Water: Ok.
Sleep: Terrible.
Mental health: Ok.

I was extremely restless last night, and while asleep had vivid annoying dreams. An intruder who sat around in the house and wouldn't leave even when I prodded him with a little knife. Getting to the start of a 5k race and paying my fee then they wouldn't let me run because I was two minutes late. Stuff like that. Frustrating.

I learned something while watching the Tour de France bike race, I heard the word "bobo" and saw the translation of "small injury" come up on the screen. It's not a term I use but I've heard it a lot and assumed it was a childish thing. But no, it's French!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dismal cold rainy dark wet miserable gloomy freezing day


Dismal cold rainy day plus PMS. What fun. Dark wet miserable day. Gloomy freezing depressing day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Slow walk


This morning I had to fill in a form to get my dad out of jury duty. Weird and sad having to tick the "other reason" box with an explanation that he couldn't be a juror because he was dead.

In the afternoon I walked to the library with some very heavy books in my backpack, and returned with some less heavy ones, rocking along to Queen. An hour total walking, not including time in the library. I remembered to alert my fitbit that I was intentionally exercising so I could look at the stats when I got home. I was a bit shocked that I spent a lot of time with my heart rate up in the peak zone, even though I was just walking (effectively with weights, I suppose), up to 168bpm on the hills. Very unfit. I was pretty tired by the time I got home.

I am slow walker. I think I'm striding along, but I get passed by everyone; people pushing prams, little old ladies, business-women in high heels... today it was a blind man with his guide dog. It gets discouraging, but I just keep walking.

I watched a documentary about obesity (it was part 2 of 3, missed the first one) and it divided overweight people into three categories. Firstly "constant cravers". These are people who, due to gene issues that interfere with hunger signals to the brain, want to snack all the time. They might not eat a huge amount at once, but eat a lot over the course of the day. When walking around a fair, they looked at food, ads for food, people eating etc more than twice as often as the even the other obese people; drawn to it and thinking about it all the time. They were told to do Intermittent Fasting, dramatically restricting calories two days a week. If they said why this would help, I missed the explanation.

The second group were emotional eaters. Their issues were psychological, and often caused by trauma or abuse in childhood, or a period of food deprivation or uncertainty in their life. In a brain scan, when they were upset and then offered treat food the reward centres in their brains lit up much more than was normal (much more than if the same person wasn't upset). The strategy for them was to join dieting groups, get counselling, anything that would give them emotional support, rather than being given a specific diet.

The last group were called feasters. Once they started eating, they kept eating well past fullness. This was blamed on an imbalance of the gut hormone that was supposed to tell them to stop. The strategy for them was to make sure they ate very filling foods; protein, low GI carbs, fibre, lots of vegetables. Also soup, which surprisingly doesn't empty out of the stomach any faster than solid food.

They all lost weight in the first fortnight but then a lot started to stall and find sticking to their diet very difficult. Being given a tailored diet isn't particularly helpful if it isn't any easier to stick to than the million others you've tried! So I don't really know if all their research was very helpful.

The other thing covered in this episode was the effect of tiredness. They had one group with enough sleep, the other they deprived of sleep by keeping them up until 3am the night before. Then they were each sent to a supermarket with a general shopping list like "cereal" and "snack for after shopping". The tired group ended up with nearly twice as many calories in their trollies, with much more saturated fat and sugar. And that was after just one night! I know all about the effect of tiredness on my own shopping and eating habits.

There was a hilarious episode of Mythbusters tonight (my son's favourite show). They were trying to replicate something they'd seen on the web, where startled goats would go stiff in the legs and fall over. There was lots of goat chasing and lots of goats falling over, legs sticking straight up in the air. So it wasn't a myth, it was really true. Most of the other myths they pursue seem to involve guns or explosions, or car crashes.

Still no word on Sydney, or my roof.

Report card:
Diet: Good (but I'm writing this straight after dinner, and my recent record of evening eating isn't good).
Exercise: Great.
Water: Good.
Sleep: Poor.
Mental health: Ok.