Plus / Minus (2.21)

This week the UK deaths from Covid19 topped 90.000. On Wednesday more than 1500 people died. The safety warnings on the radio have become more stark: “If you break the rules, people will die.” The enormity of the situation is almost unprocessable – my mind just can’t take in these figures. So I hear them, I let my heart be sad, and I move my thoughts on to avoid getting lost in a spiral of misery and fear.

Yes, there are other things to think about, things that are not Covid related, like the 31 days of questions on the Wake up/Wind down podcast. I came in late (somewhere around the 6th of January) but I have been trying to answer the questions daily in my journal, sometimes doing two questions in one day to catch up. The questions so far have varied from relatvely simple (“Who do you admire and why?”) to more complex questions requiring more thought (“How are you living by your values?”) The questions are good, helpful, but sometimes bring up issues you don’t want to think about. I did some catching up today but found myself stopping at a certain question when I felt my mind was bringing the shutters down.

A more useful question is How do you make kimchi? I have a cabbage and I have gochujang (Korean chilli paste – a surprise find at the supermarket) so this will be my next fermenting project. Focus on what you can control, the advice has been. Don’t let the bigger picture concerns get to you. You can’t change those things. But I can cut up cabbage and make brine and chilli paste. I can do that. I will do that.

Fermented food is supposed to be good for you and I am feeding myself better food these days. Except on weekends, it seems. Two weeks into this healthy eating initiative and I have finally lost some weight. A big chunk of weight too, which is good news. But I am realising it takes a lot of focus to keep this healthy eating going. Every meal, trying to find ways to bring extra vegetables in, trying to balance protein vs fat vs carbs. But I’m getting there. I’m spending way too much time tracking my food consumption in the Nutra Check app, but it does help me track my 5-a-day fruit and vegetable consumption. My record so far is 9.5 units. My worst is 5 units. If I can keep it up near 6 or 7 that’s pretty good. And even 5 is a big jump from the 3.5 I was averaging before.

I have a kind of fear of cut flowers. No, fear is not the right word. Dislike? Disdain? It’s a kind of moral thing around the carbon footprint of flowers, something so unnecessary and temporary. I even hate getting them for my birthday because I know that three days later they will be dying and get chucked in the bin. (Hopefully for compost but not always) I have successfully dried some roses and other plants from bouquets in the past which I keep in a vase. The corpse flowers, as Husband calls them. But I feel better having preserved them than just throwing them away.

Anyway, this year, as my year-of-round-figure age, I have set myself the challenge of buying myself flowers and enjoying them without any climate related guilt. Call me hypocritical if you want, but this year, when I’m spending so much more time at home, why not brighten my days with flowers? My friend is celebrating her year-of-round-figure age by buying herself a different bottle of champagne once a month. I’ve chosen flowers instead.

In these times of restricted movement, I’ve taken out a three month flowers-by-post subscription, so I don’t have to go out for flowers, the flowers come to me. I received the first bunch on 4 January and they are still going strong after two weeks. Even more impressive, they sent the tulips with the bulbs still attached so I can plant them out and potentially grow more tulips in the future.

Flowers one week after delivery

I’m surprised how much I like having flowers in the house. I take them “to work” in the morning and bring them down to the living room in the evening so I can keep admiring them. It feels like a real challenge to have done something that doesn’t sit easily, to buy something so frivolous for myself. 

Some weeks or months after everyone else, we finally started watching Queen’s Gambit and season 4 of The Crown. Last night we saw the episode of The Crown where Charles and Diana travel to Australia. “Where the hell did they film this?” we asked each other. “There’s no way that’s Australia.” Husband laughed himself silly at the scene set in “Brisbane”.

“Where in Brisbane is there a building that looks like that?” (Answer – nowhere, it was filmed in Malaga.)

He was more put out by the depiction of the royal couple’s time in New Zealand. “Some Maori dancing and some puking, that’s it?”

“Brisbane” as seen in The Crown
Actual Brisbane in 1983

I have a feeling we had the day off school for the royal couple’s visit to Brisbane. Not sure what I would have done with my day off, but for sure I know I didn’t go into town and join the waving cheering crowds.

I spoke to my sister in Brisbane this week. She complained about having to wear a mask when she went out to meet my other sister for afternoon tea. “I had to wear my mask on the bus, and on the street, and in the restaurant until we got to our table.”

“Welcome to what my life has been like for the past 10 months,” I said. Except she can actually go out and meet people in social venues and have a meal with friends and family. Meanwhile, here the lockdown will stretch on for another four or five weeks. I don’t actually know when it’s supposed to end.

I started with Covid19 and I’ve spiralled back around to Covid19 again. Probably a good place to close. Happy middle of January everyone!

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