Friday, February 25, 2011
I couldn't tell you the last time I had a cold, but after running around all week and being in a gazillion different doctors' offices - yep, I guess it was inevitable.
So the hostess with the mostest ain't, at least not tonight. I'm going to bed. Back tomorrow, Deo volente.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Tonight I was listening as the local church hosted 'ringing the changes.' The air was very clear and still this evening, and the sound carries well from where the church is on the hill.
I'd been aware of the technique, from old British movies mostly, and occasionally because I would read something about it in Victorian literature - such as Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol.' When Diana and Charles were married (yes, okay, I was glued to the television, and I expect to be glued to it on 29 April this year, too, lol) all the churches in London were ringing the changes, so loud and so long that some of the TV presenters were nearly drowned out. What I didn't realize is that very likely the bell-towers all over the country were also ringing.
When I moved here, I was surprised to find that the local parish church, St Mary's, has a set of eight bells and a group of bell ringers. Every Sunday morning they ring for several minutes before services; every Thursday evening they ring for, oh, I guess about two hours - Thursday is practice night. When I hear them on Saturday afternoons I know someone has gotten married. Holidays often see a peal or two. And if there's a grand event with a national celebration - say, when a member of the royal family gets married - the local group is there to ring the changes.
A week or two ago I was writing to Debrita, one of my fellow Sparklers, about how lovely it is to hear the bells, and she mentioned how she enjoys bells and wished she could hear them. The wonders of the internet: I found a link.
The above is from a church in Leamington Spa, but it has a set of eight bells and the 'peal' they're ringing is one that is used here.
I hadn't known it until recently, but there are a lot of variations - the peals - that are almost like following the notes for a song. Some of these patterns are ancient, going back to the Middle Ages, and most have names. The recording above is known as the 'Stedman Triples.'
Lymm's parish church is listed in 'Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers.' It's a little technical, but it shows the notes for the eight bells at St Mary's; they were all cast in 1891.
The home page for Dove's Guide:
If you're interested in learning more about the tradition, and want to hear more selections from different churches, this link is 'The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.'
I never can resist checking to see what Wikipedia has on most any subject:
...and with that, I'm done. Time for Beatleband. Himself is waiting. Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
We went to Manchester's Chinatown today for lunch and a walkaround. It used to extend for a few blocks in each direction from the Chinese gate, but in recent years (and it's been only since I moved here) I think about two-thirds of it has been demolished, no doubt in the name of 'progress.' Still plenty of shops and restaurants, and at least a few grocery stores.
We picked a place with a buffet - I think I did fairly well, all in all, within range, tho it would've been less if I had resisted the spring rolls. (Chinese restaurants in Britain don't have egg rolls, at least I've not seen them here. Good thing they don't, because that is one thing I think I would not be able to resist, and they can be really calorie-laden!)
We stayed longer than we'd intended, but as it had been quite a while since we'd gotten together the time flew. Being in town we also did some shopping, then came back for another 'natter' and a light supper. And now, it's bedtime. Dunno where the day went. :-)
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This morning I noticed the flower bed outside the kitchen window was covered with green. I thought 'Huh. Wonder when the leaves started growing.' At lunchtime - the crocuses had popped! Purple crocuses in bloom. Now try to tell me spring ain't just around the corner, cold or no cold...
Tomorrow sees us midweek and with our friend arriving, the next couple of days are kind of filled - I plan to do lots of catching up. We haven't seen him in nearly three years, since he went to Japan; I hope he's in for a pleasant surprise when he sees me!
So far this week we've got two appointments under our belts, with two more yet to go. Wotta week it's been for 'the busyness of life.'
The two I've had for Monday and today were NHS appointments, and I have to say - for anything the NHS gets wrong, they get ten things right. IMHO
Yesterday I saw the foot doctor (finally!) about the plantar fasciitis, a doctor who believes in noninvasive techniques as the firstline treatment of choice. Great, me too, as the mere thought of things like 'cortisone injection' and 'surgery' are enough to render me practically catatonic. (Yah, you hear me make that chicken noise: pauk pauk pauk.)
On to the 'physio' - the physical therapist - who led me through some massage and exercise techniques, gave me a pair of inserts for my shoes, explained some other things about heat application, etc. - and who taught me how to tie my shoes. Oh, I know, it made me laugh too! But I wasn't lacing them tight enough and tying them at the right point to lend additional support to my feet. I tend to (ahem) keep them fairly loose and sloppy, mostly because it just feels comfortable. The 'new' correct lacing tends to feel tight, just about to the point of UNcomfortable - or did. Within an hour it felt better, and starting off this morning with them tied properly (!) seems even better than yesterday, so... who'd'a thunk it!
Today's stop was with the physical fitness specialist. This is one of the departments within the NHS that's facing massive restructuring (read: budget cuts) if not outright elimination. This young fellow spent a good half-hour just doing my initial interview.
He asked questions to find out what exercises I've been doing, what kinds of health problems I have (e.g., diabetes), what kind of physical problems I have (the foot, the knee - and he was the first one to ask if they were 'opposing,' as in opposite legs, and yes, dammitoll, they are, which makes it even more difficult to work around), what medications I'm on, the whole nine yards.
Then he outlined several programs they offer that will address different 'targets': there's a strength-building program, an overall 'increased fitness for seniors' program, even a form of circuit training. There's also aquacize, tai-chi, two forms of yoga, gym equipment, and I don't know what all - pretty comprehensive program, tho. All of these are either free (fitness for seniors, circuit, tai-chi) or very minimal cost (aquacize, gym equipment). There are other programs I'm not yet fit enough for (there's a great walking program, for example) but I can work my way up to it, and so long as my foot and knee improve, I see no reason not to anticipate a time I can participate in some of the others, especially in the walks.
Of course, all this assumes the NHS will continue to fund these programs. To me, they fall into the 'preventive medicine' category. Sometimes I wonder if the powers-that-be (and I'm also thinking about some of the insurance companies and government agencies in the US) would rather dispense medicines and not encourage health-for-life. After all, if people live longer, services are required for a longer period of time and more money is paid out in the form of social security, pensions, etc. Does that sound cynical? (Moi? Cynical? lol...)
That's it, then... it was an early start this morning, it's been a long day, it'll be an early start and a long day tomorrow, so - goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Monday, February 21, 2011
Today's anniversary has been a recurring thought for me this past week or so. As many of you know, I wrote an 'anniversary update' blog back in December, so in one sense the date is a technical anniversary, but perhaps not as meaningful in terms of the effort I've put into Spark and my own journey to wellness. (I'm becoming quite fond of that term, 'wellness' as opposed to 'health.' Dunno why.)
I've been pondering things like motivation and perseverance, what they mean to me and how they've helped. But what's really Sparking me is SparkStreaks. That's a cute term for consistency, in many ways, and I think it's consistency that is proving to be my make-or-break key to success.
That's not to underrate the value of the encouragement and support from the community here. I don't want to preach to the choir, but you all know how important your fellow Sparklers are. The tools and features on SP are equally valuable.
For me, those things - the support and encouragement, the trackers and exercise videos and teams - are all part and parcel of what has become my daily consistency. And what a tremendous difference it has made, continues to make, to my state of health and my life.
I finished sorting the last of the clothes I've had stored away for (dare I say it) nigh onto five years now. I have one size left that I'm not quite ready for, mostly Smalls and some 12s, even a couple of (generously cut, lol) 10s. I've bagged up quite a few things to send to the local charity, and I have a couple better items earmarked for eBay or a consignment shop.
I am keeping, though, a pair of size 28 knit slacks. The elastic waistband has no 'stretch' in it anymore. I had very nearly outgrown them - I was probably a size 30 by then, in all honesty - but I refused to buy a next-size-bigger. In these pictures, I'm wearing a 16 tee and a relatively-snug 16 jeans.
I'm not quite to the both-legs-in-one-pant-leg stage. Yet. But I will be, and that's one reason I'm keeping these size 28s. The other reason? I never, ever want to go back there again. Ever. And just in case I begin to think 'Well, I wasn't really that big,' these are the reality.
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