Update on pao : more healing thoughts, please

The doctors told pao this morning that they think it might be appendix but they are not sure and would do some more tests. Nothing has happened so far and I’ve just been over to see him and he is a bit fed up but that is to be expected. I’m not expecting to hear any more news today and I expect they will do the tests tomorrow instead. I couldn’t cope with spending more than about 40 minutes at the hospital as I keep bursting into tears and don’t want to stress him out any more than he is already. I was sorry to have left him but they are very strict on visiting which I was a bit glad of as I needed to go home for another weep.

Book 8: Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

I bought this book for pao one Christmas and whilst I was casting around for something new to read, I thought this really fit the mood I wanted after reading The Bonesetter’s Daughter.

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

I was lured into buying this because I loved the cover and the idea of the adventure novel. It doesn’t let down on adventure as the twists keep on coming and it is a good read. Amram and Zelikman are two adventurers. Amram is a large, towering African who wields a deadly ax which is called Defiler of Your Mother. Zelikman is a Jew from a family of physicians in Regensburg. Together they ride the dusty and dangerous roads of what would be modern day Turkey and Russia looking for adventure and ways of making a living.

Amram and Zelikman come across a mahout with a young boy, Filaq. The mahout is killed and the two adventurers fall into taking charge of the boy who says he is part of the royal family in Atil who have been slain by an usurper Buljan. Filaq wants to raise an army and avenge his family and his kingdom.

It has been a while since I’ve read such an absorbing tale but I really enjoyed it. It may be a strange thing to mention but it had some words I’d not come across before so I had to look them up 🙂 A very good thing in my opinion and definitely a keeper.

Sirius is a gentleman of the house.

All by myself

Well, I am at the end of month 1 of unemployment and I’ve been pretty busy entertaining myself. Even though I am actively looking for a new job, I’m setting up in business too, hence the wedding shows, jewellery-making etc. I’m also setting up as a freelance IT consultant too with a view to taking on some web projects, IT 1-1 training and a bit of design too. I have spent a long time wrestling in my mind about the pros and cons of not getting a fixed wage and why on earth I would do something quite so unpredictable. I expect things to be a bit slow at first but I’m ok with that as I need to get a new rhythm going for myself and even though it is incredibly scary, it is nice to be able to set the agenda.

I realise after a month that I actually enjoy working for myself. I have to apply an incredible amount of self-discipline which was a little hard at first but it does mean I have the flexibility of taking a walk when I feel like it. By setting my own schedule, it does mean that I can fit work in during non-office hours and sitting around at 2am thinking about coding and designing stuff which is pretty nice. Another upside (apart from being able to borrow library books from the mobile library on Mondays) is that I actually feel happier than I have done for years. Today, I worked quite hard on completing more of the training courses I’ve prescribed for myself to help me rebuild my confidence and be more up to date but I felt so happy and relieved at the end of the day. I’m going back to work now but that’s ok. I’m not even sure if 9-5 has a place for me any more as I’m enjoying the challenge of challenging myself and keeping myself employed.

The other upside is that I don’t have to ask anyone for time off apart from myself. So that means that now that pao has started to have a painful allergic reaction to his sutures in his eyes again that I’m around if he wants me (and often when he doesn’t want me) rather than the other side of the universe wondering if he is ok on his own. I’m sure he doesn’t enjoy my company all that much when he’s trying to get on and do his own thing so I’m trying to keep out of his way as much as I can and I can take the ‘why don’t you get yourself a cup of tea/have a bath’ hint.

I think that if every work place had a pair of wonderful kittens who jump on the desk to remind you not to sweat the small stuff then a lot of people would be happier, too.

Oh dear

“Oh dear” is what my friend’s 4 year old daughter says very gravely when she thinks she is in trouble. It is not an expression I’d ever have expected to hear a 4 year old utter so it does make me smile when she says it.

Oh dear. There is something more-ish about these Anglesey cakes especially when they are filled with homemade rhubarb and ginger jam. The Vintage Magpie posted the recipe – it’s her fault that I might have just eaten these three.

Thank goodness there are kittens around to provide low-calorie eye candy.

Ten on a Tuesday: Ten Things I love about where I live

I’m stealing this from Kristi from a long while ago but I love her Ten On Tuesday series (and, well, it WAS that topic on Tuesday at some point in the past.)

” Ten things you love about where you live.”

1. I can look out the window and see green. Often in the morning there will be crows looking for worms on the green.

2. There is a real sense of village pride so it is quite a lovely place to live.

3. It is near enough the city to be accessible within ten minutes but far enough out to be in the country.

4. People are friendly and interested in you. The lady in the shop likes seeing Sirius sitting on the window sill as she goes to work early early in the morning.

5. We are really near Mama Feelgoods – an amazing place to have afternoon tea or breakfast. I can definitely recommend the scones.

6. We are really near the zoo – in fact Howletts is on the way to Mama Feelgoods. There are some beautiful swimming cats and other wild animals to be seen there.

7. The village allotment society selling home grown veg on a Saturday morning.

8. Friendly cat-loving neighbours.

9. Having a conservatory.

10. Kittens!
(no hamsters were harmed in taking this photo)

PS an extra thing I only recently discovered. There is a mobile library which stops practically opposite our house on a Monday afternoon for 45 minutes. It is amazing what you discover when you are at home all the time.

A sneak peak

I’m taking the plunge with this jewellery malarky and attending a wedding show as an exhibitor early next month so I’m having to get some lovelies ready for that. This is a knitted crystal and pearl pendant 🙂

Pretty pearl and crystal earrings

Pearly crystally earrings.

This one has a pearly length of chain.

Pendant with crystals and pearl. There are also some matching earrings.

Last but not least: Mr Cute.

Book 7: The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Tamyra has also spent large parts of the weekend snoozing punctuated by renewing her love affair with our friend’s guide dog. She is totally fascinated by him and spent ages rubbing up against his harness and eventually touched noses with him (sadly I was out of the room when the nose touching happened).

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite a while and finally hauled it off the shelf to read.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Ruth is a modern Chinese woman, a book editor, living with her long-term partner, Art, in San Francisco. She has a busy life and is loyal to her mother Liu LuLing who seems to be exhibiting the first signs of Alzeimher’s disease. It is only when she arrives to take her mother to the doctors appointment that she realises how badly her mother is suffering and decides to move in to care for her as she could not persuade any carers to stay with her mother.

It is through the discovery of a manuscript in her mother’s apartment that Ruth starts to learn the truth of her mother’s life in pre-war China and the subsequent move to America with Ruth’s aunt. There is a sense of regret and loss that is mirrored through the generations and it is through having the manuscript translated that Ruth starts to understand some of the more difficult and bizarre behaviours of her mother.

I found this novel quite hard-going on a personal level (don’t get me wrong, it was an easy read) but I felt myself making comparisons about my own relationship with my mother. My mother was one of the most difficult people I’ve ever come across and I identified strongly with Ruth and the embarrassment she felt sometimes with her mother. I stumbled across an article about Chinese moms by Amy Chua via Alice at Socktopus and realised that it wasn’t just my mother who didn’t let me go to sleepovers, got upset if I didn’t get straight As, constantly forced me to study, learn the violin etc etc. Chua asserts that : “Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.” I’m not sure that I have the work habits or inner confidence bit and I’m starting to realise that my upbringing is why I often push myself so hard and I am so hard on myself. I don’t know about inner confidence but I certainly have learnt a lot about trusting my own instincts in the past year but it does feel a bit of relief that I wasn’t the only one to be parented the Chinese way. I’m encouraging pao to read this book and the article too as I don’t think he understands the Chinese way and what I grew up with as he doesn’t understand why I push myself. I used to take on too much at work and push and push myself for perfection – I understand now that I’m hard-wired like that because of my upbringing. I’ve tried to be kinder to myself but it is only through small steps that I’ve allowed myself some time to relax. A friend of mine commented once that I was always doing something even when I was supposed to be relaxing. I guess old habits die hard – even sitting knitting whilst watching TV is hard-wired. My mother used to do the same – there was never any just sitting around doing nothing in our house. It was work work work.

Interestingly enough the BBC have picked up on the whole Chinese mothers topic and I think I personally agree with what Toby Young has said going on my own experiences: “We send them out into the world with an inflated idea of their own abilities and the moment they come face-to-face with a tough competitor – one of Ms Chua’s daughters, for instance – they collapse like a house of cards. Bye-bye, self-esteem. Hello, depression.” The challenge is finding that balance in life and I am certainly working on that now.

Book 6: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Well, it certainly has been quite a lovely week exploring colour during Winter Colours Week. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of finding colour every day and photographing it in different ways. Thank you to Chris for posting the link to – I’ve got to give those a try as well as well as spend a lot more time looking at Kristi’s photos. Kristi’s blog is awesome as her photography is amazing and she has some very good tips too. Currently, she is offering a board game called 1000 Blank White Cards she’s made for download 🙂

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

I first read this book over 20 years ago when I was at school and what happy memories I had of that time 🙂 so I was delighted that our book group was planning to read it as well as Baking Cakes in Kigali for our January meeting.

The Ward family comprised of three daughters and it was to the eldest daughter that fortune came in the marriage to Sir Thomas Bertram. The middle daughter was married off to a clergyman Rev Norris and the youngest married for love to an impoverished Mr Price. As the years progressed, the rift between the elder sisters and their youngest seemed to have mended and help was given to find Mrs Price’s eldest son a place to start him on his career inn the Navy. This set the older sisters to thinking and they decided to help Mrs Price further by relieving her of her eldest daughter and bringing her up at the Bertram family home, Mansfield Park.

The Bertrams have four children: two sons, Tom and Edmund and two daughters, Maria and Julia. One of the chief concerns of Austen’s novels is about marrying well and part of the reason for bringing Fanny to Mansfield Park is that the sons may be less inclined to fall in love with Fanny and want to marry her if they see her as a sister. Tom is the eldest son and he will inherit the lion’s share of the estate and Edmund as the youngest will be required to find a career and will become a clergyman when he is of age to take orders.

When Mrs Norris’ husband dies, a new clergyman, Rev Grant, takes up the position at Mansfield Park. He brings with him his wife Mrs Grant who soon invites her sister and brother the Crawfords. Henry Crawford is a young man of a significant fortune and his sister has a certain income guaranteed so they start to visit Mansfield Park and become friendly with the Bertram children. Henry is someone who likes to meddle and tease and his sister Mary is a beauty but is very self-centred and often says things carelessly but both of the Bertram sisters fall in love with him and Edmund with Mary despite her remarks about clergymen. Her uncle, Sir Thomas spends a significant amount of time in the West Indies dealing with his property over there and the two families are much in each other company and in search of amusement.

Mansfield Park is viewed through Fanny’s eyes and she is quiet and demure being constantly reminded by a domineering Aunt Norris the great fortune that has been bestowed upon her by being plucked from poverty to come and live in luxurious comfort with her aunts, uncle and cousins.

It is quite an interesting novel to revisit again after so many years – I first read it when I was 17 and on re-reading I am struck by the richness of the prose and the social commentary contained within. There are references to the slave trade that only careful reading will reveal – blink and you will have missed them. It struck me how much I enjoyed the novel the first time round and I really enjoyed reading it again years later.

Sirius thinks they missed out this week – no black!