Something else I have never (knowingly) done before…

I don’t know about you – but I do not usually re-read novels. I may re-read a paragraph if, as I’m going through a book, I wonder if I understood properly something that was intimated, when subsequent events suggest I didn’t – but a whole novel – no. Even as a writer of fiction I tend to think that if I have read it – that’s it, done and dusted – there are far too many books out there to re-read fiction. Usually, if I have read a fiction book I have got from it all I wanted. Intrigue, thrills, laughter, a new perspective, escape … and then I look for the next novel to entertain me. nation

So, I can honestly say, I have never consciously re-read a novel. Now, I do know that I have sometimes started to re-read a novel … one that has come out in a new cover say …but as soon as I get into it and realise I know where it is going and that I have read it before I abandon it.

Just after January settled itself down, I was tidying a book shelf … !yes, unusual phenomena – but there were a few books that needed to be homed – so a bit of judicious shuffling had to happen! … and I spotted a novel by Terry Pratchett that I had not read – and I thought I had read them all over the years. Now I need to explain that #2 son had emptied his rucksack of books out onto these shelves, in what had been his room, before he set off to ‘climb around the world for a few years’ – and at some time he’d had a lot of Pratchett books too.

‘Nation’ is not part of the disc-world series, in fact it is not part of any of Terry’s other series either … it is a complete stand-alone. Weirdly, I hadn’t even heard of it. So I picked it out of the shelf and began reading. ‘Nation’ is set in a parallel world at a time we would call early Victorian, so much is recognisable and that which isn’t is just that little shift different and all this makes for an unusual and engaging book.

Mau, a boy about to become a man, has left his tribe as boys must, to go to the boys’ island, to come back a man. I do not think I will spoil anything by saying that as he leaves the island to return home a big wave comes, a tsunami … and all that follows is as a consequence of this.

I couldn’t but help think about the tsunami that hit Thailand, and neighbouring countries, on Boxing Day of 2004, and of the island of Koh Phi Phi where #4 son spent a few years, more recently.  There  70% of the buildings were flattened, and up to 40% people of the ten thousand estimated to have been on the island at the time (including tourists) were wiped off the face of the land by the wave, leaving 104 children with no parents. Only 850 bodies were recovered, the rest remain missing.

After I had finished reading it I went to my Goodreads page to write a review … and while I was looking for the correct version cover to put on the page I realised that this book had been first published under Pratchett – Children’s books, then only later more generally. I wondered why it was ‘for children’ – as are a few of the disc-world linked novels – but decided it was only because it featured young people as the main characters as it is as intricate and full of meaning as many of his other books.

Yes, full of meaning – as well as being full of ‘funny layers’ and ‘hard truth layers’ and quirky asides. If you are a Pratchett fan you will recognise all these aspects of his work. If you have never read them – or just picked up one and read a little bit here and there, you may think that his books are too weird, too ‘other’ for your taste, but I would urge you to settle down and read a few, to get to know the city of Ankh-Morpork and the Watch as a start. You do not need to know about their world view (a world that is a disc, on the backs of four elephants balanced on the back of a celestial turtle, hurtling through space – it doesn’t really feature much) you only need to know a heaving metropolis populated by the adventurous of every kind of sentient creature that exists on their disc-world – be it dwarf or troll, werewolf or human, vampire or Nobby Nobbs.thud

So it was, that, after reading Nation, and feeling in the mood for more Pratchett I had to resort to re-reading a novel. I chose THUD!.

THUD! Is an exquisite commentary on our times. If you swapped out dwarves and trolls for Muslims and Christians you could be near the mark. And history – oh, history and how it can be manipulated and cause trouble in the mouths of the wrong people. And then there’s the Watch – Ankh-Morpork’s policemen – made up of almost the right mixture of beings to represent the inhabitants of the city…  Sure – there are comic elements – in fact I know I literally laughed out loud more than once – but there … there it is – a fundamental message, glowing in the ‘dark’ of a ‘fantasy’ novel.

I have since gone on to re-read ‘Jingo!’ about War and those who actually wish for it, create it, push for it … to further their own agendas  – regardless of the consequences to the ordinary people … also somewhat pertinent.jingo

Do you re-read novels?

If so – What is your favourite – and how many times have you re-read it?

Do share – I’d love to know which novels you think are worth reading twice.

 

 

ps another 1lb down … 🙂

and hair still looking great 🙂

 

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Cold Turkey Shampoo

No, Not a new ‘flavour’ of shampoo, but the first new attempt to use fewer nasty chemicals on my body.

Let’s face it – our skin is our largest organ AND it absorbs anything we put on it. Despite the long-held belief – which I occasionally still hear someone spout that ‘our skin is waterproof, sealing our flesh in and protecting it from everything’ – IT ISN’T.

Just think ‘nicotine patches’ – if our skin were truly impermeable these wouldn’t work – would they? They don’t contain a magic key to open the skin door.

I was reading around this when I read “shampoo and conditioners are applied to the whole body if used in either the shower or the bath” Oh! Come to think about it – so they are – and especially if you have washed your body while waiting for the shampoo or the conditioner to work and therefore rinsing those off is the the last bit you do – leaving them clinging to your skin.

So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you like the idea of parabens and petrochemicals left on your skin.

Parabens are there more for the producer than for you – they are a type of preservative. They also happen to be a exonoestrogen and as such are able to mimic oestrogen in the body, and it is this factor that has shown a link to breast cancer.

Petrochemicals –  well, I don’t know about you, but I just really don’t like the idea of putting a petrochemical derivative all over my body (not now I think about it) This may not be rational – there are some studies out there that say the 1.4 dioxine is cancer linked – and others that say the exposure is minimal – you get more driving your car. What sort of concerns me is that if all these minimals in our lives are put together they they turn out to be maximal – to have those undesired effects within our body.

Now, I figure, if I can cut down on those that I CAN avoid – the ones I can’t may just remain at minimal levels.

There are also lots of other nasties in shampoo and conditioner – some to make the foam, some to coat the hair after the foaming chemicals have raised all the scales and made it tangly.

And apparently we do not need either of them – our hair and scalp was made to be self-cleaning … only it takes a while – anything from four weeks to 3 months to achieve its new equilibrium.

However, this doesn’t mean you do not clean your hair – you can go completely cold-turkey on any cleaning product and just wash with warm water – this may take the longest to transition, depending on hair type, or you can go the simple solution way – using Bicarbonate of soda and / or borax then vinegar (apple-cider) or citric acid as the neutraliser/conditioner.

I looked to my friend Krissi – a long-time advocate of No Shampoo – for advice and she favoured the bicarb solution and just rinse. However this can lighten hair and as my hair is darker [and the grey coloured with a temporary colour two shades lighter than my hair – so the coloured grey looks like highlights 😉 ] I didn’t want to just do that. (If I had blonde/ going grey hair I’d definitely do that!) [Incidentally, Krissi used to make all organic, no nasties cosmetics – and this part of her life I borrowed for the character Marian Wood in A Respectable Life – with her knowledge 🙂 ]

hair
Ready for fourth wash today

Now, my new friend, Borax [sodium tetraborate – a naturally occurring mineral] link here (more about this when I get the courage up to tell you*) in a combination with Bicarb is also recommended by various No Shampoo (also called, unpleasantly, No Poo) websites, and as I am very happy to rinse my body in borax* (you will understand when I do get to tell you, honest) I went for this. *OK up-date – deep-breath! I’ve told all about my Lichen sclerosus now – find it HERE

Having made up the mixture of 1 dessert-spoon of borax link here and 1 dessert-spoon of Bicarb [sodium bicarbonate] link here, in a litre of water I doused all my hair in it. Massaged it in*, then rinsed it under the shower, then made up another litre of warm water  with 1 teaspoon of citric acid, link here, in (you can use apple-cider vinegar instead if you prefer) . Again I massaged it in a bit then thoroughly rinsed it out. Lastly, another litre of water with a couple of spritz of almond oil, all this poured over, then rinsed out. It sounds long-winded – but really it isn’t – as you don’t have to work up a lather, and you are not coating your hair in a thick slime (conditioner) the rinsing takes barely any time at each stage. You only need a large plastic jug to make the mixture up in, and a dessert spoon and a teaspoon, to measure out the ingredients.

My hair is very fine, and there is not as much of it as I would like! Usually, for the first day after I wash it it is all fly-away and won’t stay up in a clip, but irritates and tickles my face if down … but by day three it gets greasy and hangs limply and separates into ‘strands’! I also have to give it a good condition too, other wise I can’t get a comb through it for the tangles. Generally I am only happy with my hair on day two.

What happened with the borax bicarb solution?

The first time I left the borax and bicarb on MUCH too long* (five or six minutes) as I was concerned that my hair wouldn’t get clean! And my hair came out like straw! Not the desired effect. However, it didn’t take long for it to ‘calm down’. NOW I know it is almost a case of pour it on, give the hair a good squeeze, maybe massage the scalp a little and you’re ready to rinse, less than a minute!

The second time, five days later, my hair was much better as I’d reduced the time the borax/bicarb was on my hair to about 1 min – and though my hair started out feeling heavier (less fly-away) than it would after a shampoo wash, it did not change and get any greasier for days. And, I realised it wasn’t tangly after washing – which, if I ever used just a shampoo, my hair definitely would be!

hair-2crop
After washing this morning 🙂 And it doesn’t tickle!

The third time (six days along) my hair was even more manageable again and I’ve left it a whole week before I felt like it needed washing. Today I’m going to wash it again … and though it has not quite been three weeks I think it is beginning to find its equilibrium.

I’ll continue to fill you in on this experiment as it goes along …

Anyone already transitioned to No Shampoo?

Any good advice / thoughts about ditching the commercial products?

You know I love to hear from you, do share 🙂 – Ann


** March – Hair update – Why didn’t I know about this before – It is the best my hair has ever been!!**

 

 

PS. Any links are to help readers only – I receive nothing for posting links

 

 

 

 

 

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The perfect (weight-gain) storm

Ever since I came to you in 2012 to be my unseen cheer-leaders in my quest to lose my menopause weight-gain, I feel honour-bound to tell you what happens, good or … bad and make my confession.

So when my weight remained off a long-time past reaching my goal (in comparison to many ‘quick-fix’ weight-loss programmes) I told you. Well, it was good news, you’d expect me to.shocked-face

But now – today – I’m going to tell you how I put ON 8lbs over December… and Why – and How – I mean – that’s two pounds a week – on!  So how did I achieve this???

Firstly I didn’t do my weights exercises for all of December. I had a good reason for that – in the context of a minor catastrophe – whereby I was carrying a pyrex container of six pints of very hot milk from the microwave to the utility room (to cool it in a sink of cold water – half way stage of making yoghurt) when it started a wave motion and began to splash out of the covered bowl onto the floor – then I slipped on this as I stepped up into the utility room – the pyrex dish flew and smashed and six pints of milk sprayed itself liberally everywhere! The pyrex, as it exploded – which pyrex does when thrown on a tile floor – managed to send a piece up to slice through the flesh of my middle finger, on the top just above the first joint. I’ll draw a veil over the dripping blood and the clearing up – suffice to say – six pints of milk go a long way and broken pyrex is vicious!

Result – however, was that I couldn’t do my weights exercises as gripping anything caused the semi-circular cut of pop open [maybe it needed a stitch or two? I’d used butterfly strips to hold it together as my skin doesn’t likes stitches – usually swelling and going sore and red around them…] but the scar is very neat now – so my way was probably ok after all.christmas-food

So – no exercises = less muscle – so I didn’t even notice a weight gain the the first couple of weeks as fat on, was balanced by muscle lost… and secondly – then it was Christmas – and my total failure to stick to my usual careful watching of those SS (sugar and starch) carbs. Yes – I ate the second mincepie – the slice of cake each evening, the roast potatoes, the chocolates (an open tub of chocolates is the devil in disguise) AND even too much of the healthy foods, of which I cooked plenty

Lastly, I’d also been experimenting with gluten-free recipes through December, trying some out and making-up others, as a preparation for going gluten-lite (more about these another time) but what with having to taste (when you try or make a new recipe) and falling into the ‘Health Halo trap’ (just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean its not fattening) I was already eating more that my usual amount of carbs (even non-wheat grain carbs are still carbs!)

All of which, oddly enough, tends to prove that the weights programme and the sensible low carb eating works … and, as exercises are done at home in less than 15 minutes and as no food is banned (just kept a close eye on) it is sustainable – barring accidents!

Confession over – so what am I doing about it?

January the first, like many people, I was making my New Year resolution – of which I spoke last week – now here’s a bit of the detail:
1, return to my weight exercises,
2, return to watching the SS carbs carefully,
3, to SLOW it all down – to eat with more consciousness – slowing down the consumption, tasting the food more – chewing more. (difficult when the other half is a very fast eater and seems impatient for his pud – AND frustratingly – is one of those people who can eat what they like and stay slim!!)
4, Only eating if I feel hungry. (the first couple of days after a New Year’s Eve and Day over-eating I hardly felt like eating anything – so I ate minimally just for those days {frowned upon by the other-half} until my body started telling me it was ready) And it has begun to work – for as of Monday this week I had lost 3lbs of that gain – and hope the rest follows … I will keep you posted.

Any other confessions out there?

Did you take your eye off the (weight) ball over Christmas?

Do share, confession is good for the soul  😉

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Is it Monday?

Hi All, and yes, I’ve got to that stage when in the Christmas – New Year break when I am confused over what day it is. I’m sure I lost a day somewhere. Am I the only one feeling like this?

However, I am assured it is – and now offer my belated New Year’s greetings – and do wish everyone a peaceful 2017. Peace – in all parts of the world, but also peace within ourselves.

Perhaps this is why we try to set new targets for the coming year – we have ideas about what we want to be that we are sure would help complete ourselves, let us be happier in our own skin or boost our self-esteem. diet 1

However, it seems to me that, unless we make our goals very realistic, we are instead setting ourselves up for a fall. I now set targets that allow for the fact that I am human – and I offer this – as I find it works for me.

I allow myself a lapse within each week, for each resolution, as long as I can keep it for five days I allow myself the other two. I do not have to give up on the resolution on those two – but if I do, I do not have to beat myself up about it… AND as I’ve not ‘broken my resolution’ I do not have to ‘give up on it’.

How does this help? Well, low-self-esteem is a driver for many ills / addictions / lows in our psyche and so keeping our self-esteem high helps. Oh, yes, and the extra pat-on-the-back we can give ourselves if we don’t use the get-out clause and manage 7 out of 7 is a boost as well.

So if my aim is to exercise more, to eat less carb-loaded and wheat-based food, write more (as an author who finds it difficult to carve the regular writing times out of busy days), sleep more (definitely related to the writing and health) then I can do this for at least five days out of seven and, oddly, achieve more than if I aimed for 7 / 7.

I have one other aim this year – that is to cut back on the number of chemicals in my life. I’ll be looking at chemicals used for cleaning around the house – and chemicals that come into contact with my skin – and, as usual, I’ll be reporting along the way and hope you’ll find it of interest.

Are you making any interesting Resolutions out there?
– do share – you know I love to hear from you!

So here’s wishing you a Healthy, Peaceful and Happy 2017tigger

best

Ann

 

 

 

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