Friday, May 19, 2017

I sacked my hairdresser

I've been going to Hairy Mary for about three years now. Despite the fact that having a conversation with her does my head in (she's scatty, very scatty, but lovable), her work on my hair was usually pretty good.

Usually.

Over the last year I've come to have a few reservations about her, however.  When she put foils in, she didn't really do them close enough to the scalp. Of course I wouldn't expect her to get too close - nobody wants to be burned by bleach - but some of them looked a little grown out when she'd put them in.

Then let's talk style. 18 months ago I went from a bob to a funky shorter bedhead cut, done with a razor. All was good for about a year, although it did look a bit too wispy on the ends from time to time. My hair is fine and I don't have a great deal of it, so I loathe the wispy look.

For the last two visits I asked her specifically not to thin out the ends too much, to make them chunkier and less wispy.

Sadly, she ignored me. Too busy talking about sixteen things at once to remember what I'd asked. When the sun is behind me you can see through the ends, and I hate that.

So a month ago I took my head to a hairdresser a short walk from where I live. More expensive, which is a shame, but the foils look sharp and she's helping me thicken the ends up and grow the layers out somewhat. I quite like a few freehand-cut layers for movement, but at the moment my hair has been so heavily layered by Hairy Mary I feel as if I should be wearing hats 24/7 until it grows out.

I don't know how to tell Hairy Mary she's been dumped. I suppose I simply don't. She'll figure out I'm just not going to her place any more. I can't rave about my new hairdresser on Facebook as Hairy Mary is a Facebook friend of mine. I don't want to hurt her feelings.

How many of you have told your hairdresser you're quitting them? Or have you simply jumped ship and gone somewhere else?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stuff It

This morning while I was making the bed I noticed the drawer on my husband's bedside table was open slightly. I hate that. Drawers which are capable of shutting (which is most but not all the drawers in our house) should be shut or they look untidy. But I digress. This post is not about my OCD-ness regarding drawers.

No, it's about the remembrance day fake poppy that was in the drawer. And other Stuff.

I pondered why he'd kept the poppy. I know he's a Scot but he usually does put his hand in his pocket and buy a new one each year. It's not as if I bought the poppy for him and it has sentimental value (hmm, a $2 poppy).  I think this is what's happened (but I haven't asked him):

He's worn the poppy at the appropriate time, taken it off his suit and put in the drawer. Then he's forgotten about it. Now he doesn't even notice it's there, despite it being bright red.

I used to keep remembrance day poppies too. But not any more. I'd stick them in a potplant with something else such as a violet, just for effect. After several months of them gathering dust there (literally) I'd chuck them out. I mean, they ARE pretty. Too good to simply go in the bin after wearing. I should put them in a box to use for decorating gifts but frankly I'm a lousy gift decorator and I'd forget I had them anyway. So now, into the bin they go. I do it with gritted teeth as it makes me feel guilty.

And there's my problem. I was brought up by a Mum who didn't throw such things out. In fact she threw out very little in case it came in handy or in case there was another Great Depression or because it cost something to buy in the first place or because it was a gift from a friend or family member or ...

You get the picture. I was brought up to be a hoarder, to feel sentimental about things given to me, to not move things on if they were still 'good'.

But now I'm toughening up. I have to. I have a house full of Stuff, some of which I've sold or given away, and still more which I'm selling and which I intend to sell. I do a run to the charity shops with Stuff every couple of months.  I bin Stuff. I give Stuff to friends.

I have had to become unsentimental to a degree. And I'm a horribly sentimental person. It pulls me in two.

But I look around me and see clutter. I need to become more minimalist in order to feel less dragged down by all this Stuff.

As I've mentioned in previous posts Mum left me everything she had. And she had cupboards bulging with Stuff most of which she never used and as I haven't either, a lot of it has been moved on in some way, shape or form. But there's still too much Stuff.

Apparently we only use 20% of everything we own on a regular basis. 20%. That's not much. But when I think about it, that figure seems correct. For example when I'm cooking I usually use the same pots and pans each time. The tagine cooker gets one outing a year and I suspect that sooner or later I'll move it on too, even though I love its bright red colour. I probably don't need all the ramekins I have (two sets) but if I have a dinner party with more than 4 people I'll put them into use for individual puddings.

I plan to go through cupboards again over Easter and see what else I can move on either on eBay, Gumtree, Facebook buy swap and sell or simply give to charity. Although the charity shops are getting fussy now. I tried giving some oldish books to them this week and they refused them as they were foxed, and stated that no charity shop would take foxed or old books any more in case they had dust mites or similar. So bugger, I had to bin the books. Bin them! I nearly cried. I love books but wasn't going to read these again and it made me grit my teeth when I put them in the recycle bin. They weren't interesting enough to try and sell on eBay, either. :-(

My new hardline attitude towards Stuff is saving me money though. No more impulse buys at homewares shops or online. Department stores no longer hold any thrill for me. If I buy something it's to replace something useful which has broken. My rule now is that if I buy something new, something old has to go. (This doesn't apply to animals. Despite bringing a new puppy into our lives last year we have kept our elderly spaniel LOL!)

How I'd love to have a neat house without crap everywhere; like walking into one of IKEA's fake rooms. I'm working on it. The living room is looking more '50s minimalist these days which is a start.

But I can only achieve this if I stop feeling guilty and become unsentimental about getting rid of Stuff I don't use.  For me, it's very hard to do but I do feel a mix of exultation, lightness and some guilt when I achieve a purge of Stuff.

Do you get the guilts when you move Stuff on out of your place?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Throw me a throw

Just because I haven't been on here for a bit doesn't mean I haven't thought about it. I still can't use this particular Google account on Safari for a myriad of reasons, even though I'm running the most current software on my Mac and there shouldn't be a security issue. So can I be bothered to open another browser - Chrome - to update my blog? Not often.

One of the things I'd considered posting about earlier this year was last Christmas. We received a rather hilarious present from The Whingies. It was a fleece throw, which is a good thought as our house gets quite chilly in winter. But it wasn't a throw that in any way matched our decor. It was a throw from Guide Dogs of Australia, and featured a chocolate labrador, much larger than life, as the main element. Our living room is not neutral-coloured where the throw, which is chocolate dog on pale blue background, would look good. It's bright late 1950s pale greens and teals with orange/tangerine accents. Sounds loud but it works. But not with blue and chocolate.

OK, so we have dogs. Two, now, as it turns out, as we brought a beautiful toy Poodle girl into our lives last October. So The Whingies clearly know we love dogs as well as cats.

We pondered about why they would buy us that particular throw. If they donate to a charity it's usually a cancer one, not Guide Dogs.

Then it hit us. They didn't buy it at all. They won it as a prize in a cat show, where a non-dog person must have donated it, presumably as an unwanted gift.

We sat on the floor in the living room on Christmas morning, sipping Champagne and contemplating this thought while peering into the giant-sized eyes of the chocolate lab, and both of us burst out laughing.

Now I'm pretty good at rehoming gifts too, and if I don't have a suitable recipient for something I've been given but don't want, I give it to charity or sell it online. I take into account the person's taste and decor before deciding what to give them. I can't keep things people give me that I don't like or don't work in my house, not any more. I have too much STUFF. Too much clutter. I need to move things on if they're not suitable, rather than, as Mum encouraged me to do, keep This gift or That gift because That person gave it to you, even if you hate it.

We have a tacit agreement with the Whingies that while we give gifts to each other, they will be under $30. It's the thought that counts, it's a token thing, and I usually rack my brains to find something they'll appreciate as they consider themselves persons of high taste. Often it's a plant cutting I've been cultivating (this is acceptable as I receive plant cuttings in return) and this year I gave them a beautiful candle from the stock I sell and a bottle of wine.

So what to do with the throw? We opened it, as we didn't know what the design was, and having opened it and damaged the packaging in the process, can't rehome it as a brand new gift to a dog person. We may be able to use it on our bed as the dogs are - now the Poodle puppy is 7 months old and can hang on all night - sleeping on our bed, to the delight of our Spaniel, who I think has missed it. We certainly didn't miss the heat of them in summer!

It must have been the Christmas for throws. Another couple gave us a throw (clearly these friends all visit in winter where their teeth chatter if they move more then three metres away from the log fire) and the colours are pretty wrong in that one too. White background with orange (nice) and sky blue (doesn't work). That one is still in its packaging. It has gift potential. Not for the Whingies though as it wouldn't match their decor.

In the meantime I found a very cool orange and sage green 60s-inspired throw at ALDI for $16, which I've put on the sofa for the dogs to sleep on should they wish.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

People who don't...um...finish their sentences

I've always been an impatient git and these days find myself increasingly irked when people don't finish the sentence they are speaking.

You know what I mean. Someone's talking and then they um and err and suddenly the sentence is left dangling, waving its nouns, verbs and participles in thin air.

I have an image of unfinished sentences floating aimlessly around our house just under the ceiling in a cloud of words and letters, as my husband G is a chronic non-finisher of sentences.

I wonder sometimes whether he's getting early onset Alzheimers or whether there's just too much going around in his head, as he's under a lot of pressure with his job. I'm sure he completed his sentences most of the time when I first met him.

I do have the odd problem myself. I lose nouns. I can't think of the exact noun I want to say or write; usually the name of a flower or something. Then I'll um or err. But I'm nothing like G.

He'll be lounging against the kitchen cupboards while I'm making dinner - and why he has to lounge against the exact bloody cupboards I'm always opening to get pots, pans and plates out I don't know - and chatting away to me, then a sentence will drift, incomplete, into the ether.

I wait for it to resume, but it doesn't. I wait and wait. I feel like snapping, "Oh, finish the bloody sentence!" I try not to show my impatience; I keep the same expression on my face, but inside I'm gritting my teeth.

It's easy for sentences to drift into nothing in English. In German, you have to think about your sentence before you utter it, as the verb at the end of the sentence you will put.

G's a great one for umming and erring too. That's not quite as irritating as not finishing a sentence, or listening to someone pepper their speech with 'like' every few words, however.

Am I the only one annoyed when people don't finish what they are saying?  Or do you also find it um....er... um... ?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Oh, sugar!

The Australian government is seriously concerned about the collective weight of its citizens. Tackling obesity is now a priority, with a suggested Sugar Tax to be applied to soft drinks. I think this is a good thing. We all eat far too much sugar, and sugar is an addictive substance.

I'm not one for soft drinks anyway - never have been. Sydney tap water was good enough for me when I was a kid (and Mum didn't want to spend money on soft drinks; we didn't have that sort of budget) and it's good enough for me now. Except when I drink wine ;-)

I live in Sydney's north, in an area where people tend to eat well and spend their grocery budget on fresh food rather than packaged meals and sugary snacks. The majority of the population here is a healthy weight for their height. I, at 5kg above the ideal weight for my height, feel like a right fatty beside many of them. I've largely cut out sugar, except for wine with dinner and the odd birthday cake etc when someone is celebrating. I have a handful of nuts if I'm peckish rather than a biscuit. I don't even crave chocolate any more.

In short, you don't see that many truly obese people around here. Maybe 2% of the population.

Last weekend I worked at a three day show on the outskirts of Sydney's west. And the obesity problem hit me in the face.

I have several friends who can be classed as 'big girls', but they paled into insignificance besides the people I saw at the show.

Huge women. Huge men. Legs like tree trunks. Bellies spilling over belts and fat spilling over the tops of shoes. Arms like hams. Bigger than any of my friends by far. And these people made up around 30-40% of the people wandering through the pavilion I had a stall in.

What made me sad was the children. I saw so many little kids under 12 already overweight or obese, with double chins and shapeless legs. The majority of them were feeding their faces with junk food or sugar-laden treats mindlessly as they waddled behind their obese parents. A lot of them had a bottle of soft drink in the other hand. Seriously, that's child abuse. Fine, parents, feed yourself whatever you want but that poor little kid is going to grow up with serious health issues including Type 2 Diabetes and have a shortened life span.

My boss, who owns the products I was selling, told me that she's seen babies in prams sucking Coke out of bottles. And plenty of children and teens with missing teeth due to the sugar they've eaten in their short lives.

I was sad too to see the teenaged girls. So many of them grossly obese, with their pretty, expertly made up faces hidden in fat that bypassed any semblance of neck and simply joined the body. Several of them were wearing short shorts and it wasn't a nice sight.

G and I used to go to this show every year when we lived in western Sydney but we hadn't been for about four years. I was stunned to notice such a large percentage of the people there were so big; a real change from when we'd last visited.

I know you're not supposed to 'fat shame' people, but really! Most of these people aren't fat because of genetics or medication. They're fat because they eat the wrong food and don't move enough, and it's killing them. And they apparently don't give a flying fuck because they're hooked on sugar and crap food.

Oh, you might say, they are from the low end of the socio-economic scale and can't afford to buy expensive cuts of meat etc. No excuse. When we lived in a lower socio-economic area we saw what went into the shopping trolleys of the obese people at the local supermarket. They were loaded to the top with snack foods and soft drinks, packaged foods and chocolate, and plenty of ice cream. Barely a vegetable in sight. More than $120 worth of junk. Swap that crap for fresh veggies - which are relatively cheap - and start drinking tap water as it's cheaper than soft drinks. Cut out the trips to McDonald's and KFC, and buy bulk chicken legs and roast them in the oven, or make a big spag bol with plenty of carrots, celery and other veg as well as mince, to make the mince last longer; you'll get a couple of days out of that as a family and save money.

I know what it's like having a limited food budget; when my husband's away I tend to live on veggie meals as it's cheaper than meat. When we were both on low money living in western Sydney we ate a lot of veggies and I made stews and soups out of cheap cuts of meat.

But I digress... back to that show. I was working there for three days and brought in tins of tuna and corn thins to munch on. However. However. By day two the lure of the wonderful hot chips the Rotary crowd makes was too much for me. I bought. I ate. And the next day too. And the place selling nougat - well, they got my money and the nougat passed the time when things got a bit slow. The Rotary gang were also doing bacon and egg rolls so that was Sunday lunch sorted. My husband bought me an ice cream with a chocolate coating as they looked so good.

Reader, in those three days I gained 2kg. 2kg, just from heading west of my usual diet and snacking on crap. I've lost one of those and will get the rest off by Friday. But that tells you what crap, sugary food does.

At the show I wasn't sitting down - this was a standing up job, with me moving constantly to relieve the pain in my feet and knees, and on the day when G came in to help me I was able to go for a decent walk around the show. But still. 2kg.

Bring on that Sugar Tax. Save those poor bloody kids from a life of illness. Let Coca-Coca Amatil cop it, because they are purveyors of addictive substances and they are making a fortune out of making people sick.

The image of the lean bronzed Aussie is fading fast. We are turning into a nation of fat white slugs.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

...Not just for Christmas

I'm sitting here in a lounge chair in the living room, and lying at my feet, her head on her front paws and her eyes (but not ears) closed, is our dog, Rosie. Known as Dog Rose, Rosalinda, Rosalita, Rosalie and other variants of her name.

She's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and unlike most of 'em has managed to get to ten and a bit years without a bad heart murmur. The vet was astonished to listen to Rosie's heart and admit there was a murmur there but barely discernible.

Her arthritis is getting her down, though. She has it in her offside shoulder, and now she's on daily anti-inflammatories for it. The vet recommended fish oil and glucosamine as well, so Rosie's nightly dinner now includes a cocktail of goodies to stop her stiffening up and being in pain.

That aside, she has aged. When I walk her she no longer pulls on the leash but lags behind. From the dog she was two years ago who could keep up a pace of more than six kilometres an hour for up to an hour, I now have to take her for her own slow walk and then guiltily leave her at home while I do my power walk.

There's a golden period in a dog's life for going for walks, I think. It's not when they're very young as they pull like mad and don't always want to come back to you when they're off the leash.

But somewhere around four or five years old they are the best walking companions you'll ever have. They don't pull insanely; they keep up with you and trot at your heels, looking up with a happy grin. At eight they are still happy to chase a ball again and again and again.

That's the experience I've had with the three dogs I've been lucky to share my life with.  But at nine, they start to slow. Rosie's interest in chasing balls dwindled. She'd do it once or twice, then give me the 'can't be arsed' look. These days I don't throw balls for her because I don't want her overworking her arthritic shoulder by galloping flat out and twisting and turning. She can do it - but she'll pay for it later and be in pain.

I'm aware that my lovely companion is, in human terms, in her seventies. She may live to a hundred. When I look at her, sleeping a little noisily, there's more white around her eyes than there was last year.

My previous dogs have made it to 13 and a half. I'm hoping Rose does too, or, health permitting, makes it to 14 or more.

Everyone loves puppies; some people forget that puppies grow to be dogs. Even then, they forget that - with luck - one day that puppy will be an old dog.

Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas, as the saying goes. I treasure my old dog. I love her to bits. I hate it that one day she won't be there any more. She's as dear to me now as she was when she was a puppy straight out of a Disney movie.

She'll need care with her arthritis. She's rather deaf (a Cavalier mystery as a lot of them go deaf for no discernible reason). She's precious beyond belief.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The things I do for Psoriasis. Now it's Dandelion Tea

I've suffered from Psoriasis for about 15 years. It started off as a little spot on my right leg when I was camping with friends by the sea. I thought something in the sea had bitten me and my doctor gave me cortisone cream, which seemed to fix it.

It came back after a few months, with a friend. Cortisone cream sorta kinda kept it in check. Fast forward to 2015 and my lower legs are spattered with plaque Psoriasis. I am on a steroid ointment for four weeks, then I switch to a non-steroid cream. The ointment keeps it in check and my legs (and now, elbows and one wrist) look pretty normal for the weeks I'm on it. Once I'm back on the cream for a couple of days it flares up like you wouldn't believe and spreads. So I'm fighting a losing battle. Roll on 1 August so I can have my four weeks of ointment.

It's not painful, it's not itchy. It's just ugly. While I can cover up in winter (and it's usually worse in winter as there is less humidity and you don't get much opportunity for Dr Sunshine to do his stuff) summer is buggery for me. I still have to wear long trousers or tights with skirts.

So every so often I head to the interwebs and research more about this pesky auto-immune disease, which is incurable. It can be brought on by stress and is often inherited.

I'm deliberately trying to minimise the stress in my life by cutting back my work hours and spending time outdoors - working in the garden, going for a walk. As for the inherited bit, well, I'm adopted so I have no idea what my genetic cocktail is.

These are some of the ideas I've tried in the past couple of years:

  • Using olive oil, coconut oil or sesame oil on my plaques. All that did was make my jeans oily unless I then wrapped the offending area in cling wrap.
  • Using Vaseline on the plaques to keep them moist. See that bit about oily jeans above.
  • Drinking Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I didn't notice any improvement. And let it be said that the smell of any vinegar makes me gag.
  • Taking Vitamin D capsules. I'm doing this at the moment as I don't get to strip off in the sun much in winter. Sunshine in small doses is the best way to let Psoriasis have its necessary dose of Vitamin D.
  • Smearing Aloe Vera on the plaques. I have an Aloe Vera bush so this is one is a nice free of charge idea. I've been doing that for about a week. No difference.
  • Cutting down on just about every food I love. This has been a real bummer. Spicy foods are a no-no apparently (and nobody enjoys a seriously good curry like I do). Gluten? Out! (Nooooo... I love my sourdough!) Dairy? Out aside from yoghurt. Tomatoes and potatoes and other members of the Solanaceae family shouldn't be eaten. Nor should my winter joy Ruby Red Grapefruit (but apparently lemons are OK). Mangoes -! Mangoes -! Why, why, why? My favourite fruit ever. Oats are out - and porridge is one of our breakfast staples. Wahhhhh!!! Seafood - I don't want to live if I can't have the occasional seafood treat. And I shouldn't drink alcohol. Humph. >:-((((( I do love my glass of wine with dinner and have no intention of becoming teetotaller.  Fags are out too. So I have failed on the Food To Cut Out front. Totally. If I have to give up all the food I love I won't get much enjoyment out of life. I might not have plaques but I'll be utterly miserable. I'll be suffering from depression!

These last few days I have been reading up on both the Mediterranean diet and the findings of Dr Irene Prantalos, who is based in Melbourne. She has been a lifelong and very serious sufferer of Psoriasis and through diet is now plaque free.

In general it seems a Mediterranean diet is a pretty good match for Psoriasis. Dr Prantalos has taken it one step further and created a Mediterranean Diet for Psoriasis, and today I bought the e-book of this on Amazon, together with her book Feel Great in Your Skin, 7 Simple Ways to Heal Psoriasis. (Note the word Heal... it can't be healed truly but it can be controlled so it goes into hiding. But most people will respond to the word Heal).

Both these books sound the knell of doom as far as my favourite foods go. Whether I can stick strictly to these recipes for any length of time I don't know. There will come a day when I will scream, "I hate bloody cabbage - and dammit, I want garlic on my chicken tonight! Or chilli! I need curry - now!"

I think if I can incorporate a few of them into my daily diet and be mindful of all the naughties and cut down on them I may see a difference. Some of the recipes just don't appeal to me, especially anything with cabbage. And while Dr Prantalos stresses it's important to use organic when you can, I don't have the budget. I can grow some leafy greens organically but our local organic grocer charges an arm and a leg. Oh, and eat lots of fish. I love fish but it's bloody expensive. Having a chronic illness is not a cheap business.

I'm sure G won't like some of the recipes much either, and he'll have to eat them as I'm not cooking two different meals at any time of the day.

One of the things Dr Prantalos suggests is Dandelion Tea. It's apparently a real goody for Psoriasis. So I bought a box of Dandelion and Chicory Tea at the supermarket today, in the absence of a simple Dandelion Tea. I can't say I'm hooked on the taste. It didn't exactly make me gag but it's not something I'd choose if I didn't think it would do my skin some good.

G is away for two nights from tomorrow so I'll have the opportunity to test drive some of the recipes in the book and read more about the 7 Simple Ways.  And drink a lot of Dandelion Tea.