Saturday, 15 October 2011

Unearned privileges

I'm back in the big city with all the lovely pollen from all the beautiful flowers. I've also acquired a neti pot in an attempt to fight hay fever. It offers instant relief, but I haven't used it since I got back from my writing retreat last week. I'll keep you updated on how well it works in the long term.

I missed three things while I was in the teeny tiny house in the middle of nowhere. I didn't think of these things as privileges before the visit.

Trees and greenery
Apparently I struggle to live without trees. I especially like trees that are taller than me. It's not so much to ask in my opinion. I'm a shorty. From the little prefabricated houses you can't really see trees.You just see more little boxes. I was lucky to see a beautiful sunset at a guest house after I begged my friend to take me somewhere, anywhere to save me from cabin fever.

A beautiful sunset, but no big trees

Clean water
At home I just toddle over to the tap when I'm thirsty. Naturally the water tastes better (and is probably better for you) if you boil it first and then put it in the fridge to cool down, but it's perfectly possible to drink it. A little miscalculation in the amount of water at the beginning of the visit lead me to really appreciate being able to drink water whenever you feel like it since I felt I had to ration myself. The other water privilege only became apparent after a few showers. Little scratches became little sores. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to treat a serious injury there.

I didn't expect to have to add this to the list. The cliché of the quiet little village is a lie. Up to a point anyway. It's true that you don't hear the roar of city traffic, ambulance sirens or gunshots. The environment is quite quiet. This means that the doef-doef or the bass of noisy music carries beautifully; the houses are quite close together.

Little boxes

If you're like me, all the talk of little boxes will have made you remember the song. So I've added a link so you can listen to it. The first verse holds true, but unfortunately the people here don't all go to university. Some don't even finish school.

I remember seeing or reading about the downsides of rehab for addictions somewhere. Some people believe that rehab doesn't work since the people are taken away from temptation and weaned from using substances in an isolated environment. This does not necessarily help when they are returned to their ordinary environment. The same applies to the Biggest Loser programme. Many participants gain at least some of the weight back. It was easier to write when I had to face little temptation or irritation.

Project 36
Eating plan

Fun fact: eating food with a high fat content will make you gain weight

It's obvious, really. Since I've started visiting Marthie Leach I've eaten a low-fat diet. In the beginning I was a bit tragic about some foods that had to be moved to the only-eat-as-a-free-meal category, but my body has adapted. The week of eating snacks and "normal" food left me feeling fat.

Enter the dragon scale. The first weigh-in showed 2 kg more than when I left home. After eating my ordinary food and two days at home, it dropped to a 1 kg gain. Marthie Leach advocates a common sense approach to this - if you visit friends you will stray from your eating plan. Just remember to eat every two to three hours so that your body doesn't feel the need to hoard all the fat you're feeding it.

I haven't been there in a while. Must. Go. Back.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Writing retreat

Some of my blog readers are my friends (in other words, people I knew before starting to write this blog). The problem with having your friends on your blog is that they send you (nasty) emails or chats when they feel that you have not done your duty in keeping said blog updated. Benni, this update is for you!

I often hear of people going to "a retreat" to find or centre themselves. I always find this slightly ironic since a "retreat" is also a tactical move in battle where you choose to run away instead of facing more casualties. Since I'm battling with the Master's, I've done a bit of both this week. I'm visiting a friend who lives in the middle of nowhere.

I'm grateful that I managed to connect to the Internet today. My phone's network-based location is just "Southern" (mostly sunny). It doesn't even know that there is a (teeny weeny) town here. My friend isn't on leave so I work on the Master's in the day.

The view - it rained later in the afternoon
Part of the visit's success lies in the myriad of activities available: staring at the view or listening to the chickens. I can't even waste lots of time on the Internet since my network connection is precarious, to say the least. I can only connect to the web when the front door is closed and then only when my modem graciously agrees to function and not disconnect itself.

I've gotten some writing and planning done. For my visit it rained in the afternoons so I'm afraid that I tend to take a nap when the temperature goes down. On the other hand, the tactic of applying your derrière to the chair is working quite admirably; I've made notes and planned out notes and connections between two seemly disparate novels. On the other hand:

I've been sitting on the hard chair to the point where I've had to add a cushion

Project 36

The downside to there being nothing to do is that I’ve been snacking. Not the healthy Marthie Leach kind, the kind with fat and stuff (technical term describing my knowledge of unhealthy foods and my reluctance to think about what I’ve been munching): chips, my old friend chocolate and co.

You can't drink the tap water (without boiling and filtering it) and we miscalculated how much water I drink a day. Luckily we could made a supply run yesterday, but before that I was dabbling in carbonated sodas and lots of coffee to satisfy my liquid needs.

I'm a bit worried about my weigh-in when I get home >.<