Sunday, 1 June 2014

Frustrated Ramblings
Irritated! I had a post about Jesus' ascension ready to go (last Thursday being Ascension Day). Then, when it came to actually typing it ... all gone. Mind a total blank. Especially annoying because it's now a fortnight since my last post, and I had been doing quite well at getting them done weekly. When it's a habit it's so much easier.

Time for a ramble then - bits and pieces without necessarily any overall shape and destination. I've always felt the best way to get to know a new place is to go out and get lost there for a while. It's a lot of walking the first few times, but you soon build up a mental map which helps in the future. Rambling: purposeless wandering ... with a purpose ;-)

A few follow-ups to earlier posts would do the trick, I reckon.

My last post I said I was expecting to take a hit from overdoing things ... I did. It was still worth it.

There was an interesting opinion piece on the BBC website today about disabilities and quality of life: in most cases it is no worse, sometimes it can even be better. A challenge can lead to a re-evaluation of what is really important, and a focus on that. One point the article makes is the importance of context, particularly in terms of social environment and relationships: simplistically, people matter more than circumstances. The article is well worth reading.

Before that I wrote about Kristin Cashore's young adult fantasy, Fire, which I found engrossing and moving. I am now about halfway through the next book in the series, Bitterblue, which is equally stunning. Themes include confusion and disorientation, so getting into the book at the beginning is not as easy as in the earlier books. The initial situation in which the heroine finds herself  is confusing and disorienting, deliberately leaving the reader without much clue as to what is going on. It's very well written.

Whilst I felt that Fire has a subtext of what it is like to be a young woman growing up; Bitterblue seems to allude to being a young abuse survivor growing up - hence the disorientation and the focus on the slippery nature of truth and lies. I'm only half way through, so I don't know if she can keep this quality of writing up all the way through, but so far it is an amazing book.

Actually, I am finding Bitterblue a touch more confusing than it really should be, as I am having trouble getting my head around the cast of characters. It adds an extra challenge to reading books when you can't remember half of what went on before.

Which was a part of the source for my Easter post, Alzheimer's At Easter. But the main trigger for that was the question of what it is which defines a person's identity. Is it their memories and their patterns of life? If so then I guess it is true that dementia in general, and Alzheimer's in particular, strips the person away to leave a shell behind. But if there is more to identity than the surface stuff, if a person's essence is deeper and subtler than just memories and habits, then the loved one remains and is to be respected as a fellow human being.

As the BBC opinion piece I mentioned earlier points out, assumptions about quality of life in difficult situations can be wrong. The evidence seems to be that having company, someone to talk to them and sing to or with them, can be really helpful for people with dementia.

As a final follow-up, looking back two years, I have been thinking about a post I wrote about my plans to lose weight. As ever, life got in the way of those plans. For most the past two years I have been half a stone down on my starting point (against a target of a stone). The past couple of months I have stabilised at three or four pounds higher than that, as CFS has clamped down.

What has struck me though is a possible answer to the age-old question of why it is that some of us could eat what we liked as teenagers and still remain thin, yet in middle age the pounds pile on. I suspect that I was probably putting on weight back then too, that probably hasn't changed. What has changed is how long I have been doing it for.

If I have been putting on roughly a pound a year throughout, then as a skinny teenager I was not going to notice any effect over three or four years. But over thirty or forty years is a very different matter: forty years at around a pound a year is near enough three stone - enough to take me well into 'overweight' territory.

To round off, I am now a big fan of West Berkshire Brewery. My daughter got me a mixed case of their beers for my birthday: absolutely delicious!

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