Update and Comments: 13 January 2020

Stuck between a rock and a hard place and the New Year has hardly started!

I believe that one’s home can be a very dangerous place to be. Yesterday could have resulted in my demise, if truth be known. With the semi-long-haired German Shepherd spending several hours having a much overdue grooming session at our local dog parlour, it seemed a good time to get rid of all the dust behind all the kitchen appliances. This is a job which is impossible to do when dear Kelly is around as she sees any form of housework as an invitation to become a total monster. She barks aggressively at brooms, vacuum cleaners, spray bottles, dusters, in fact anything that remotely resembles a cleaning tool and does her level best to destroy the item in question.  I am beginning to think that she is the reincarnation of a previously badly treated maid.

Anyway, back to the potential disaster whilst cleaning. I pulled out the washing machine as well as the dishwasher. Both of these appliances must have originally been installed by someone who had zero idea of the necessity of cleaning behind them once they had been installed. The hoses on both machines have to be secured in the exit points in the wall tiles with Prestik! If they are just pushed into the holes in the tiles, then the water pressure, when the machines are in operation, is capable of making the hoses shoot out of the wall, and the resultant gush of water will flood the kitchen. Therefore, the need for blocking the holes and securing the hoses with Prestik.

I managed to squeeze between the two pulled out machines and, sitting under the countertop, with great difficulty managed to stuff a large amount of the Prestik into both outlet holes after pushing the hoses in as far as they would go. Now came the dangerous part – how on earth to squeeze back out from under the kitchen counter with both machines partially blocking my exit. Getting in under the counter hadn’t been difficult, but now to get up from a squashed, sitting position, and to extricate myself (fortunately I am not a particularly big person) was ample cause for hyperventilation and the start of a panic attack!! Crazy how getting into a situation is one thing, but getting out of it is quite another. Being alone at the time, it was rather nerve wracking to say the least. Anyway, I had to take a very deep breath and relax, then squirm my way to a semi standing position, grab the edge of the kitchen counter and ease my way out.  I cannot over emphasise the relief of being upright once again and made sure I didn’t put my back out whilst pushing the afore-mentioned appliances back into their respective spots.

If it had been later in the day, I think a nice glass of wine might have been in order, but not at 10am! I am beginning to believe that one should have an insurance policy to cover any unforeseen eventualities whilst cleaning one’s home.  Anyhow, I am still here in body (the mind is always a debatable entity)  to continue blogging into 2020!

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

Updates and Comments2 472x265

 

 

The Changing Face of Addiction

Having studied the subject of addiction during my psychology courses quite a number of years ago, I am beginning to wonder nowadays whether or not the incidence of addiction is on the increase with the ongoing technological advances with which we all seem to be faced?

In the past, when one mentioned the word “addiction”, thoughts went automatically to alcohol abuse, over-eating, the use of recreational drugs, gambling and even exercise. These days the goal posts have moved, and we see people who cannot function if their mobile phones are not in their hands or positioned on their desks right in front of them. First thing in the morning the phone is grabbed whilst eyes are still bleary from sleep – “what messages have arrived during the night, who has posted some exciting information on Facebook whilst I have been asleep, what earth shattering news have I woken up to read? I need to scroll down and update myself before brushing my teeth, having a cup of coffee, and generally facing the day.”

One of the biggest catastrophies in modern day society, is often the theft or breakage of one’s mobile phone. Heaven help us all if we lose reams and reams of totally inconsequential information, not to mention photos from every person with whom we have had any dealings at all, be they good friends, family members, or just passing acquaintances. How are we ever going to survive without this personal encyclopaedia of trivia? Archiving the information in “The Cloud” can be one’s life saver when this happens, I believe (never having had to travel that road, thank heavens). So, if one is techno-savvy, there is always light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

The trend amongst many of the so-called millennials is to exercise to extreme, and to spend as much time as possible at gyms, pounding the pavements, or swimming the oceans or taking part in triathlons of one kind or another. The health stores are benefitting all the way to the bank, due to all the supplements, vitamins, and health foods which go hand in hand with all this obsession with beautiful bodies. This kind of life also can be lumped together with other forms of addiction, one would think. There is the obsession with attempting to prevent the ageing process with cosmetic surgery not to mention purchasing the most expensive cosmetics which promise eternal youth.

I have realised over the past few weeks, since the beginning of December in actual fact, that as business slowed down, so there was more time to engage in mindless, time-wasting activities, and the mobile phone was the partner in crime. So easy to download casino games, mental exercise apps, you name it, you can download it. Once you have learnt the basics as to how to play the game, then voila, you are soon hauled in, hook, line and sinker! It takes a very strong will to actually limit yourself to a certain time of the day for playing, or even a certain amount of games before you close the app., and get on with the serious matters of the day. One does not need to be a neurosurgeon to realise that something is happening in one’s brain when these apps are downloaded. It doesn’t take long to become addicted – or is that just me? The solution seems to be to uninstall these apps and get on with a normal day?

face id smartphone parasite, woman and Internet addiction

I would really like to know just what does happen within the brain’s wiring system which allows us to so easily become an addict of one kind or another. Are we born as potential addictive personality types, depending upon our specific DNA? Or is it all a matter of a certain chemical reaction taking place due to a particular occurrence that results in our suddenly being able to waste valuable time, or mess with our healthy bodies because of having acquired a specific craving which conflicts with our previous behaviour? All I can say is that it must be very trying for those individuals whose job it is to assist in breaking these destructive behavioural patterns with which addicts of any kind are afflicted,  as well as for anyone seriously trying to move on, addiction-free.

If it is an addiction linked to one’s physical health, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc., then it is probably more difficult to handle than one which just messes with one’s brain, e.g. the mobile phone, or the computer, and is more detrimental to one’s quality of life. However, seeing people unable to interact with one another without the perpetual glancing at phone screens to check for messages, then how detrimental are any addictions when it comes to personal relationships and the future of the human race per se?

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the
narcotic
be Alcohol or Morphine or Idealism”
– Carl Jung (Psychologist)

Addiction 3 350x215

Birth Announcement – Futuristic

It is with great pleasure that my wife and I are letting you all know that our beautiful new baby has arrived. The birth was eco-friendly, albeit two weeks later than we had expected, as no drugs were involved, and the child came into the world in an inflatable paddling pool made of bamboo which we put outside on the front lawn.  The water we used to fill the pool came from the many litres which we had harvested in recycled plastic buckets during the very heavy rainfalls of the past few weeks. There were a few leaves and some other bits and pieces floating in the water, but then babies need to build up their resistance as soon as possible, I believe. Melody, my tough as nails wife, recovered instantly and, after we had cut the baby’s chord, and wrapped it in a yellow blanket, got out of the paddling pool, showered, and made dinner. She is amazing to say the very least.

Друк

The name we have chosen for the new arrival is Green Cherub. We will let the child decide as to whether they would prefer to grow up either male or female or transgender, so we will be dressing it (not using a gender at all until the child has decided) in gender neutral clothes and colours until the time that we know whether we have a daughter or a son. We are sure you will understand, after all we are living in modern, non-stereotypical times and we feel very strongly about saving our planet. As new parents we hope to be able to do our best in assisting in reducing the carbon footprint.

Melody plans on breastfeeding the new arrival until it is time for nursery school – probably about 4 years from now. We both believe in having as much input as possible in the early years with very little outside interaction with people who have no regard for things that we hold dear such as veganism or serious recycling. Once the child is old enough to mix with other children, we will choose a nursery school with great care. If needs be, Melody is considering starting her own school so that she can hand pick the kind of children with whom our child will mix. There is still plenty of time for us to make final decisions on the child’s education but, one thing is certain, this child will be taught Mandarin along with English as soon as it is starting to talk. One has to be objective and look at the future and how China seems to be encroaching in every area of life.

If you would like to send a gift for the new baby, it would be really appreciated if you would consider making a donation to Green Peace in lieu of baby gifts. We will not be using any manufactured perfumed baby products as well as nappies of any kind. The disposables are creating havoc in landfills and then the old-style terry towelling ones need chemicals to keep them spotlessly clean. Therefore, we have decided to go au naturelle and just mop up as nature takes its course.

I can hear Melody calling me to come and help bath the new arrival, so I hope that you will be happy for us and understand if we seem to be hibernating for the next few years. We do not use social media as a means of keeping in touch, so it will be very occasionally that you have any updates on what is happening in this neck of the woods, but if you are nearby, please do not hesitate to call in to see us. We will always be on hand to offer you a healthy drink or a homemade rusk.

Kind regards

Harry, Melody, and Green Cherub

Birth Announcement 2 350x233

A New Era Dawns?

Well, we only have a few days ahead of us before we enter the 2020’s and, looking back, things appear to be vastly different than they must have been a hundred years ago, when people were waiting for the start of 1920.  I thought it would be a bit of fun to compare a couple of the differences between 1920 and 2020 as far as fashion and lifestyle is concerned, so here goes.

The first world war took place between 1913 and 1918 and is still referred to as The Great War. The loss of life and the conditions which the armed forces on all sides had to endure were horrendous by all accounts, as much of the fighting was done by soldiers in cold, muddy trenches. As in any war, as well as in the days afterwards, times were extremely difficult for most people and something needed to happen to improve morale. It may well have been that the anticipation of entering a new decade assisted in lifting peoples’ spirits.

1920's 2 350x200

As 1920 approached, it saw women over the age of 30 in the UK having been given the right to vote in 1918, a privilege which American women were to receive during 1920.  Consequently, the fashion of the times started to reflect this new emancipation and the “flapper” arrived on the scene, with her beautiful bobbed hairstyle which was suited to the head hugging cloche hat of the time. The wearing of the Chanel inspired, drop-waisted, shorter length shift dress meant that no longer did women have to squeeze themselves into tight, uncomfortable corsets. For evening wear these dresses would have been decorated quite elaborately with sequins and crystal beads. The style was well suited for dancing the Charleston or the Black Bottom at the new night clubs where jazz was all the rage. The desire to have a slender boyish figure made its appearance along with the fashion for smoking, using fancy cigarette holders, and wearing make-up in public. By all accounts there was a major shift regarding morality during this period in history. All in all, for those who could afford it, life seems to have been a time for having fun.

Men’s fashions changed as well during this period. One only has to watch the movie, The Great Gatsby, to see how dashing the men’s outfits were compared to the austere clothing which was worn before and just after the war. Pin striped suits or blazers worn with white trousers and braces, trilby hats or straw boaters, two-tone shoes, and natty bow ties were the rage.  All in all, a very attractive time where men’s clothing was concerned, albeit for the wealthy.

As we look towards 2020 things are rather different.  Fashion has had to accommodate the changing shape of many people the world over as obesity has become a serious health issue. Despite this phenomenon, more and more flesh is exposed than in the past and, with the exception of certain religious groups, there is often a noticeable lack of modesty. The rather unusual dance style known as Twerking (as made famous by a certain American female singer)  raised its rather ugly head, or should I say backside, in recent years in the name of dancing, and tattooed bodies are in evidence in abundance across the board, age and sex seemingly being irrelevant. It is very important amongst many people to have clothing which is branded e.g. Nike, Adidas, Jimmy Choo, Calvin Klein – the list goes on and on.  Even if people are not particularly wealthy, it’s often the image they wish to project which is the important factor and not affordability.

Skinny jeans are still all the rage as we move towards the new decade and, to be in fashion, there need to have more rips and holes in them than denim. If they have a designer label on them, then the price does not reflect the lack of material used to make them. It has also become common practice to wear denim to just about any event. No longer is it necessary in many cases to wear an evening dress to attend a theatre production, or to have a meal at an upmarket restaurant. Only if an invitation states that it is a black-tie event, does a man need to wear a dress suit and his partner a cocktail dress. If an event states smart casual then this covers just about any style of dress other than shorts, tee shirts and flip flops!

When we look at the way in which transport has changed in 100 years, we can quite comfortably assume that It would have been a select few who were able to afford to buy a motor vehicle as 1920 approached. Most people would have had to rely on trams or steam trains or even a horse and cart, although cycling was a very common form of road transport at the time.  Nowadays, in many countries, it is almost a rite of passage for teenagers to get their driver’s licences as soon as they are old enough. Even without their own personal vehicle, there is often a family car which they are able to use every now and again. Bicycle riding, especially in some countries where drivers are often reckless and negligent, can be extremely hazardous, so being able to drive a car is seen as critical in order to get where you want to without having to depend upon sometimes unreliable public transport. There are many countries where trains and buses run regularly and without undue delays, but in other countries that is definitely not the case!

I realise that there are dozens of contrasts which I could investigate regarding the hundred years between 1920 and 2020, but it could take me months to do justice to them all. Suffice to say, all we can do to cope with all the changes with which we are constantly faced is to take a deep breath and try to embrace them without having a panic attack. To use a well-known cliché, there are two certainties in life – change and death, so if it’s only change that we are coping with, we are still in a good place after all. So, bring on 2020 with all its potential challenges and opportunities, and let’s clink glasses with those near and dear and drink to a good New Year wearing our ripped denim jeans albeit with their designer logos!

1920's 11 350x333

Spaghetti with Duck Prosciutto, Broad Beans and Aged Parmesan

This is an extremely easy pasta dish with heaps of flavour. If you cannot get or make duck prosciutto, substituting with pork prosciutto will work just as well. Break the egg yolk just before eating and stir though your bowl of spaghetti.

Ingredients

  • 250 – 300g thinly sliced duck prosciutto. Normal pork prosciutto will be fine if duck cannot be obtained
  • 2 cups frozen broad beans
  • Parmigiana Reggiano, preferably 30 months aged, grated
  • 1 packet spaghetti
  • Egg yolk
  • Salt and cracked black pepper

Method

  • Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until el dente
  • Whilst spaghetti is cooking, cook the frozen broad beans in a separate pot of salted boiling water until cooked – approximately 5 minutes
  • Drain the spaghetti and add the broad beans. Stir through
  • Add a portion of spaghetti to a bowl.
  • Top with a good serving of duck prosciutto, lots of grated Parmigiana Reggiano, cracked black pepper, and top with the egg yolk.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Assuming – can make an ass of you and me!

In the fast- paced world in which we live, it is so easy to miss important cues when dealing with other people. We also often tend to overlook a situation where another person is having a hard time because it might just be too uncomfortable for us to acknowledge their need. Assuming that the front which someone projects to the world at large is a true reflection of their life is a common mistake which we all make at one time or another.  Sometimes all that it takes to really learn about someone is to listen attentively to them, not to constantly interrupt, and to show that you are interested. It isn’t always possible to do anything physical to help improve matters, but one can offer comfort in many ways. A statement which I read recently really struck home. “You will be remembered, not for what you did, but how you made people feel”. If we could all follow this advice, the world could be a much less challenging place in which to live.

“Assumptions are made, and most assumptions are wrong!
– Albert Einstein

Nothing is more satisfying than having someone tell you that, just because you gave up some of your valuable time to listen to them, and perhaps offered some worthwhile advice, they feel so much better after having spoken to you.  You never know just how much showing that you care about another person, can affect their future. We all need recognition and it isn’t always forthcoming. Regardless of the kind of family to which we belong, we are often unconsciously competing with other family members for feelings of self-worth, and emotional reward. Where young people are concerned, this situation commonly flows over into the school environment and, later in life, the workplace as well. In fact, in modern society at least, competing has become a way of life and the frightening fact is that it seems to start almost from the cradle with over zealous parents comparing their offspring with those of their friends and relatives. Social media has the rather negative ability to exacerbate the entire situation.

To take oneself out of the equation in our interaction with others, is something which does not come naturally to most of us. After all, who doesn’t love to hear the sound of their own voice? This in itself can be a problem when we are dealing with other people. Everyone wants to be heard, but I don’t believe that many of us really like the kind of person who has verbal diarrhoea and always tries to dominate the conversation. We need to remember the old adage that we were born with two ears and only one mouth, therefore we should be listening twice as much as talking. Not always easy to remember, but certainly worth a try! You can only truly listen to what is being said if you learn to force yourself to stop preparing your own contribution to the conversation whilst the other person is still speaking.

Several years of Lifeline counselling, using the Carl Rogers method, cemented for me the importance of allowing the person needing help to formulate their own way of moving forward. This is a non- invasive form of counselling whereby the counsellor does not direct the form of action which the person being counselled should take. It is a safe method which allows people to take control of how they will try to change their own set of circumstances. Just by their feelings and concerns being fed back to them by the counsellor, a person is often able to see their way forward.

In our day to day interactions with other people, it may be very enlightening to take the time to ask them a little about themselves. Very often those people who seem to be fully in control of every area of their lives, are the ones who are actually battling with inner demons and feelings of inadequacy. We have the proverbial hats which we wear in various situations and, after all, we are all members of the human race (there are always those who somehow don’t seem to fit into that category, but let’s leave them alone for now!)and we share doubts and fears which plague us all from time to time.

Just knowing that someone cares and is interested in you can be a life saver when things are going pear shaped, and there seems to be no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.  Yes, we all know that things  change over time but, in the here and now, to have someone who bothers enough to lend an ear to your concerns may make all the difference and enable you to carry on despite the struggles with which you are faced.  A late friend of mine who offered counselling for many years used to say, over and over again, “There are no throw away people”. We should bear this in mind when we are dealing with one another and be there when needed if we possibly can. By not assuming that what we see on the outside is the same as on the inside where our fellow beings are concerned, we may be able to make a positive contribution to their lives in ways of which we may never be aware.

“Your assumptions are your window on the world.
Scrub them off
every once in a while or the light won’t come in.”
– Isaac Asimov 

Update and Comments: 6 December 2019

I seem to do nothing except make excuses and apologies for my lack of writing every time that I manage to sit down and start bashing away on my keyboard. However, this time around I am laying the blame totally at the feet of that always unseen, and criminally inclined creature with whom I have had dealings before, the very dislikeable time thief. He lurks out there somewhere and, when there is just so much to be done, and so many ends to be tied up, he wields his evil magic, and steals precious hours, and even sometimes days! In this case, and I know that I am not alone in my belief that 2019 did not have the usual numbers of days, weeks or months, he really surpassed himself! I say “he”, but the culprit could just as easily be a “she” or even an “it”. Whatever the case may be, I sincerely hope that 2020 and the start of a brand new decade sees the creature retiring or expiring completely. I need 365 days – oh bonus! 2020 is a leap year and we get that extra day in February! Now all that is required is for each day to have 24 hours with not a minute being stolen, hidden or removed in any other fashion. Too much life to be lived and words to be written.

I hope that you, my readers, are coping successfully with the end of year wind-down (often extremely hot in the southern hemisphere), and chilly festive preparations (in the northern regions) and may we all look forward to the end of a particularly challenging 2019  (for most of us here in South Africa at any rate, and possibly elsewhere too) and a bright new 2020!

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

Update 6 Dec 2019 350x233