Saturday, April 29, 2017

a Kildare jumper for The Little Madam

I've previously knit and unravelled two garments for myself from this yarn (two extra large - as in 400g - balls of blackberry Stylecraft Special), neither of which I wore much.

This latest recycling of the yarn is going to get a lot more wear -

Here it is in its inert state...

Here it is being posed awkwardly...

...and here it is in action, so to speak...
Here's the Ravelry link.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

On the continual fall-out of my hair

It's been a week since I went to the doctor about my kamikaze hair. He prescribed me some stuff to tame my scalp and invited me to see him again in ten days if my hair is still misbehaving.

Well, it is.

The floors of my house are a real mess, as they are covered in black strands - as is my pillow. When I look in the mirror I'm reminded of a guy I once went tramping (hiking) with when I was at university. His head was mostly bald at the top but long-haired at the sides and back, like an egg wearing a fringe.

My progress in learning to tie a head scarf is very slow (if it is happening at all). Mostly I can rely on the pirate-style do staying on, but any other way soon fails and is replaced by one of my ever-reliable knitted hats. There are some really inspiring YouTube videos showing you how to tie a head scarf stylishly - but watching them is the only easy part.

At times like these I'm thankful that I'm still working from home. It means I don't have to spend more than a couple of hours in any one day in public, with my head inexpertly covered.

Did you know there are many websites that sell headwear aimed at women going the full-Sinead due to alopecia and chemotherapy?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Stubbly like a kiwifruit

To save money, I only go to the hairdressers when my hair so long I just can't stand it any more.

If I had known two Saturdays ago that my hair was going to fall out, I might have opted to save my $42.

It started happening a week ago this morning - handfuls just fell off my head while I was in the shower. I run a hand through what's left of my stylishly bobbed locks and it comes away full of limp strands. I get out of bed in the morning and the sheets are covered in wavy black lines. The floor looks like that of a busy hairdresser's.

I'm comforted by the stubble that has appeared in the place of the escaped hairs, so it is growing back. But it's surely going to take months.

I really don't know why this is happening to me. Is it because  the day before, I had done my first dance class in probably two decades? And then took TLM and her friend for a hill walk later in the same day? Is it because my body is sugar-starved? (Not likely, despite my efforts to be sugar-free during the week). Or the result of two years of worrying incessantly about money? (But at long last the boy has got a contract and soon money will be flowing in - for a couple of months at least.)

My off-centre part is more like a broad, dried out riverbed.

When I dare to gaze in the mirror I am reminded of the wispy-haired bird-girl in TLM's book,"Eep".

Thankful that it's almost hat weather, I have spent Easter weekend with a knitted cloche practically glued to my head whenever it wasn't just the three of us. I like how it looks and all, but it isn't actually quite that cold enough to be wearing it indoors with the heater on.

Tomorrow I will try wearing a silk headscarf, gypsy-style. I will probably look ridiculous, but at least I can avoid sporting a comb-over.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Death traps

We have had it with the flies in this house - they buzz around my head, try to eat our food and die in inconvenient places.

I think it's worse than it's ever been. The only plus side is at least they aren't mosquitos or some other bite-y bug.

I am not at all in favour of fly sprays. They squirt chemicals all over the place and, anecdotally, don't actually work.

I did some googling research  and read that if you hang a plastic bag half-full of water plus a few coins in the doorway, the flies won't come into the house.

However the boy did not seem think this was good enough - probably because all the flies seem to be in the house already.

So he went out to and bought some fly paper (above) and a fly-catcher (like a dream catcher but icky-ier) (below).

 
Welcome to your demise, flies!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My fourth month of working from home

The "pros" of working from home:

  • I'm home when The Little Madam gets back from school
  • If the weather is beautiful I can easily nip out for 5-10 mins of sunshine without having to take up smoking as an excuse
The "cons" of working from home:
  • I have to consciously make an effort to get exercise, whereas before walking from work to home was effortlessly built in.
  • It's hard being part of a team if you only see them for a couple of hours once per week.
  • If I need to get anything in town I have to make a special trip.
  • If I happen to have all of the internal helpline calls directed to a phone that is in my possession, I can't easily take the day off if I have a cold.

I have a cold, perfectly timed for Autumn. My workmates have all had it - which is surprising as we are all working from our homes and should be less likely to infect each other. 

The boy had it all of last week. "That ache-iness and the headaches - that's just the beginning", he says helpfully. But just because it knocked him for a six all week doesn't necessarily mean it will do the same for me. 

For one, I make an effort to keep up my fitness. For two, I eat lots of fruit and vegetables. For three, I'm not a man. So fingers crossed, I have had the worst of it after two days.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The need for victim blaming


  • A woman was attacked while walking home from the pub? She shouldn't have been out walking in the dark.
  • Someone took all the produce and didn't put money into the honesty box? It's madness to leave your stuff out where anyone can steal it.
  • Young person can't get a job? They are probably lazy and entitled.


These are all examples of victim blaming. It's very politically incorrect to do so, but we've all heard (maybe even said) something like the above, often.

I think it's to do with believing in the cause and effect, and the need to have control. For example, if I work hard at my job I will get a promotion and a pay rise; if I take care of my looks, keep the house clean and cook my husband great meals he won't leave me for someone else. If I eat healthily I won't get sick.

But we all know these are not guaranteed. Good things happen to bad people. Financially responsible people can become homeless. Non smokers can get lung cancer.

I've been re-reading The Idiot Brain, by Welsh neuroscientist Dean Burnett. Quite apart from the fact that this guy writes like the Bill Bryson of medical writing (i.e. highly readable, funny and really enlightening), he provides a neuroscientist's view of why we as society victim-blame.

One factor in why we do this is is because we tend to find it difficult to empathise (obviously it varies from person to person), due to the fact that our brains are egocentric. He describes an experiment in which one person has to touch something nice while a second person has to touch something disgusting. The person touching something nice finds it difficult to sympathise with the other. However if both people have to touch something gross then it's easy for them to sympathise with each other.

The other factor is what he calls the "just world" hypothesis. The brain assumes that the world is fair, good behaviour is rewarded and bad behaviour is punished. If a bad thing happens to someone then they must have done something to deserve it. Because if they didn't, then that means it could happen to us, who are most definitely behaving well. Our brain is uncomfortable with the possibility that bad things could happen to us even if we don't deserve it. So it chooses to have us believe that it must have been deserved.

So there you have it - our brains make it hard for us to empathise with someone less fortunate than us and in fact makes us blame the unfortunate for whatever has happened to them.

(That doesn't mean we should just let it happen though.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Time to target the muffin top

For years I've been eating like I still go to the gym every day, when of course I stopped going not long before TLM was born 11 years ago.

Ice cream, cakes, biscuits (cookies), chippies - damn my sweet tooth and taste for greasies.

Just like it says in just about every bit of literature you'll find about middle age spread, the extra weight has crept up on me and it only hit me a couple of weeks ago that I really have to do something about my "clothes shrinkage".

My bum lift jeans can no longer lift my bum, because they are too tight around the waist. My NYDJ jeans  will still zip up, but it's easy to see that they are having to work a lot harder than only a year ago. And the pretty maxi skirt that fit me just right last summer will no longer button up at the back.

Yep, it is time to do something about it.

A couple hours of Google searching ("lose spare tyre") and three fitness-over-40 type books later, I have settled on a plan of attack:


  • I already make sure I go for a walk every day - from here on every other day my walk will be interval-training style. Every time I hit an upward slope I'm going to go up that as fast as I can, then slow down for the flat and downward bits. Interval training is supposed to be good for targeting belly fat.
  • Will try to do stretches and mobility exercises...
  • I'm going to cut right down on the sweeties and greasies. None at all during the week, but letting myself have a treat or two during the weekend so I don't go postal. This is the bit that I expect will make the most difference.
  • I'm keeping a food journal so if I do fall off the wagon, it's all there on paper so I don't forget it.
  • I'll only have one between-meal snack mid-morning and another mid-afternoon (rather than whenever I'm bored or slightly hungry)
This only started on Tuesday so it's early days yet. I know that last time I tried to go sugar-free I only lasted a week. But that time, I was motivated only by the desire to be healthier. Fear of falling down the roly-poly black hole is a much stronger motivation for me at the moment. (Okay I also don't want to get Type 2 diabetes.)

Wish me luck!