Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gratitude # 38

I'm grateful for fairly simple things today. I'm grateful for the amount of work that kept popping into my inbox today. I'm grateful for a good doctor's appointment. I'm grateful to all the people out there protesting against mining in national parks. I'm grateful for some down time to read "Mao's Last Dancer". I'm grateful for Laksa and a big glass of wine after work. I'm grateful for Tissy chasing a moth around the lounge. I'm grateful she left her dead rat out in the courtyard this morning rather than bringing it inside, and that Hamish got to the cat vomit in the hallway before I did. I'm grateful that tomorrow is the last working day ahead of a long weekend.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gratitude # 37

I had another good day today. I was busy and on task all day at work. I had coffee with my manager. I had a healthy lunch. My eyesight felt slightly better and the swaying was almost completely absent.

It was another lovely autumn day so at 5 o'clock I put my running gear on. I told myself I'd run at an easy pace and just see how far I could go. I decided to turn back at 2.5k. Well, I started running and I didn't stop. I put Bop on my iPod and pressed play, and disappeared into my happy place. I kept it fairly slow but I never felt like I couldn't have kept going. After the turnaround I started picking people off. Sure, I got overtaken at the Tuesday run finish line by the two lead 5k walkers, but they were caning it so I tried not to let it bother me.

I ran. Only 5k but it was a good start and I can build from here. This is, I think, what recovery looks like. I am grateful for running and I'm grateful for recovery.

Monday, March 29, 2010

One for the Ex-Pats

Sam Hunt on the Cook Strait.

Grateful #36

Today I am grateful for this house. We weren't looking to buy when we found it, just to see what the market was like. We had an apartment in Auckland to sell and six months still to run on a fixed term lease in Brooklyn. However from the moment we walked through the door (the second house on the first day of looking) we knew it was ours This house ticked all the boxes. It had two bedrooms, a large study, and a large bathroom with a bath and separate shower. It was quiet and private and on a dead end street so safe for the cats. It had beautiful views and the kitchen had been modernised. However, more than anything else, it just felt 'right'. It spoke to the both of us.

This house faces East, sitting high on the ridge in Mornington. Below us we can see Macallister Park, Berhampore, Newtown and all the way across to Eastbourne. We can't see a lot of harbour - just little slivers here and there, and if you crane your neck it's possible to see a little of the Cook Strait.

The Southerlies blow in off the Strait. They whip through Island Bay and Berhampore, then gather speed as they climb the hill. They hit the side of our house, slip underneath it and lift it on its foundations. A huge storm hit the night we moved here and we sat in the draughty bay window listening to the howling outside and wondered what we'd done.

The Northerlies hit our lounge. They blow against the line of trees on that side of the house and rattle the window frames. Most days it is too windy to open any of the windows very wide, expect for those in the kitchen, which opens onto the sheltered courtyard. If doors are left open at either end of the long hallway leaves will inevitably blow in and linger down its length.

A few times a year the wind stills. On those nights we roll the dining table out onto the veranda, light candles and sip on wine while surveying our domain. On still weekends I throw up nearly all windows, with the exception of a cracked window in the kitchen, a painted shut window in the lounge, and the bathroom window which is too high to reach. The big old sash windows let the outdoors inside, and the walls seem to fade away.

From this house the world can seem a million miles away. We can hear the planes here, but they are off in the distance and below us. We can hear them firing up at 6.30 in the morning, except for the foggy mornings that shut down the airport and envelop us in their thick stillness. A flight from Sydney arrives at around 11.30 most nights.

A neighbour's dog occasionally barks. The odd car winds along the road below us. The three teenage boys living next door hold parties a few times a year which always end early because their parents' bedroom is right above. In summer they and their sister swim in their pool outside our lounge and she fills the air with her shrieks. Most often, however, the only sounds to be heard are the calls of Tui and Kaka.

This house is nearly 100 now. Its foundations are questionable and the retaining wall below is on a definite slant. The floorboards are thin from borer and the lack of insulation in the walls means it gets freezing here in winter. It's dusty and untidy and ramshackle. Cat hair lingers in the bedroom and outside Ivy, Wandering Dew and Blackberry are competing for space with native trees in the garden.

We said when we'd move in that we'd repaint the pink feature wall in the lounge and the overly vibrant blue bathroom. However seven years on we're only just starting to bring home test pots. Most of what we have done has been the necessary - replacing a leaky roof and an equally leaky hot water cylinder. We've taken on the character of this house as much as it has taken on ours.

This isn't a home for extravagant entertaining. It's a place to retreat to. It's a place to watch clouds gathering over the Orongarongas, and to curl up with a book and a few cats. It's a place where two people can rattle around and indulge in their own individual obsessions.

I am grateful for this house. For all its faults it has been good here. I sit comfortably within its walls.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gratitude #35

I love early autumn. I love when the air is just cool enough to be crisp, where a long-sleeved merino under a long t-shirt feels cosy but not too cold or too warm. I love it when it's cool enough that my body slows down enough to feel ok about curling on the sofa. I love sitting here with our view over the mountains, Berhampore, Newtown and the Eastern suburbs. From here I can see the wind blowing in the Norfolk pine in our neighbours' garden. I can see clouds skudding through the sky - sometimes grey and threatening rain, sometimes clearing to a surprisingly clear blue. I can hear the odd wind gust in the line of trees along the northern side of our house behind me. In the study I can hear Hamish listening to a podcast while he plays some online game. The cats wander in and out and claim their little bit of lap space. On this slightly cool day my mental faculties feel refreshed. I indulge in a book of Barbara Kingsolver essays and the occasional TED talk. We have done our quota of housework for the weekend and there is nowhere I need to be, nothing I particularly need to be doing. Earlier today I planted out some cauliflower seedings into our garden. Now I sip on a glass of red wine, which warms me with its berry notes and its ruby tone.

Today I am grateful for idleness.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gratitude #34

Today I'm grateful for clouds. I'm reading about them in The Cloudspotter's Guide, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney. I love the word Cumulonimbus. It always reminds me of the Crowded House song "When You Come". While I was sitting here reading today I was watching the clear skies turning into a solid level of cloud. Tonight it's forecast to rain.

Today I received a copy of my neuropsychologist's referral letter to the hospital's consultant neurologist, the one who does vestibular testing. Her letter was so amazing it made me want to cry, or to hug her on the spot. She wrote of me as an accomplished, intelligent and determined woman, and she accurately documented my symptoms as I have described them to her. I am grateful for having such an influential ally on my side.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gratitude #33

Today I'm grateful for a narrow little inner city street filled with gorgeous little old houses. Wellington is a great place for that kind of exploring. It is full of secret little nooks and crannies and paths and shortcuts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gratitude #32

I spent today feeling extremely conflicted. It was a gorgeous autumn day, the kind of day which should not be spent in an office or on the sofa. I had a bag full of running gear, but I was afraid to use it.

Two things finally tipped the balance. Firstly, I had a follow up appointment with my new optometrist and we redid the test I did with him three weeks ago. That showed that the light box I have been using is working, and my field of vision is greatly improved.

The second thing that tipped the balance was my friend Sarah urging me via email to get out there. If it weren't for her I would have just given in and gone home. Thanks Sass!

So after work I put on my running gear in a toilet cubicle at my office. The second I put my gear on I felt like I was coming home. I felt a little joy rising inside me just from the very act of dressing.

I grabbed my iPod with the first Couch 2 Five K podcast on it and headed down to the waterfront. The instructions were to walk for five minutes, followed by eight one minute running intervals with ninety second rests in between.

Today I was grateful for rediscovering lost territory. Today I saw poems from a poet's walk exhibition. I saw the Len Lye wind wand, and it sprayed water on me. I saw ducks, lined up in a row on a wall by Waitangi park, and swimming in the pond by Te Papa. I saw other runners, I saw two buoys with shark fins attached. I saw a kayak class. I saw a little sand-covered terrier running along the sand of Oriental Bay. I saw cyclists. I saw the Bluebridge Ferry heading out.

I ended up not sticking to the podcast's instructions. I was enjoying the music too much and marveling at how good I felt when I was moving, as opposed to when I sit or stand still. The more surprised and pleased I was, the more I wanted to run. Although I didn't today, I'm confident I could still run an easy 5k.

All of this makes me happy. All of this I am grateful for today.

Mid-Week Poem

Finding Purchase
The dandelion seed
that blows in the wind
appears to have no direction,
no purpose to its travels.
Yet it carries with it
a single goal,
a sole motivation
to find purchase in
good soil and
to live.

I am not that seed.
I was travelling to
a clear destination,
and yet now I find myself
blown sideways, carried
on a sudden eddy.

So now I find myself
fighting to find purchase,
grabbing hold of any
blade of grass that
bends in my passing.

Now with no idea
of what I should be
searching for like the
seed I hold onto
a single goal, a
sole motivation
to find purchase in
good soil and
to live.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gratitude #31

Today I'm grateful for John Campbell's pink tie. I'm grateful for the beautiful, high apricot clouds in the sky right now. I'm grateful for being inside this afternoon when the afternoon deluge hit. I'm also grateful for a car ride home.

I'm grateful I don't live near one of the proposed national park mining sites, and I'm grateful I'm not one of the beneficiaries who is soon going to be expected to find work or have their benefit cut. I'm also grateful for not being either 'impacted' or 'affected' in the recent office restructuring. I'm also grateful for living in a democratic country where people can speak up against policy with which they disagree.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gratitude #30

Today I'm grateful for finally having the nerve to put my new glasses on, and for them not being anywhere near as difficult to adjust to as I was expecting. I'm grateful for all the issues that kept firing themselves at me today. I'm grateful for the 300m run in a long dress and high heeled boots, with bags over my shoulder, that got me to the bus just in time. Even if it did leave me panting much more than it should have done. That little sprint may just have convinced me I can try running again after all.

I'm grateful for all the usual things - especially food and wine. I'm always grateful for food and wine! I love having my appetite back. I missed it.

Today, most of all, I'm grateful for friends.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gratitude #29

Today I am grateful for finally going through my poems and realising how many good ones there were.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gratitude #28

Today I'm grateful for watching young boys practicing soccer at the local primary school. I'm grateful for the young Indian dairy owner, who recognises me now. I went there to buy some garlic today and she asked me what I was cooking. When I told her I was making a curry she started running through a list of ingredients. She is incredibly sweet. I'm also grateful for the curry - chickpea and potato, which is hotter than I'd intended but will provide me with lunch for most of the week. I'm also grateful for finally remembering to listen to the Richard Dawkins podcast I've had opened in a tab in Firefox, and for watching a fascinating TED talk on the neuroscience of vision. It's been a lovely, slightly humid day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gratitude #27

Today I'm grateful for a walk in the sun, and for cheerful taxi drivers. I'm grateful for cauliflower cheese and salad from the garden. I'm grateful for an afternoon spent reading, and for scanned honeymoon photos. I am grateful for yet again feeling a little bit better.

Oh, and I'm especially glad for the gift of a book written by a dear friend, arriving in the mail.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gratitude #26

Yet another good day. I am grateful for drinks after work. It seems such a small thing - feeling well enough to relax with my colleagues. Not so long ago I couldn't relax, let alone sit there socialising and drinking Riesling. Laugh? Joke? All possible again. Plus my laptop no longer falls off my lap when I'm sitting here.

It possible I may, indeed, be starting to get a little better.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gratitude #25

Today I am grateful for good meetings, and for writing a paper for our project board. I'm grateful that I'm enough of an interesting case that the two optometrists I've seen since the surgery discuss me at their get-togethers.

If I don't get better it won't be from the lack of exploring all avenues!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gratitude #24

Today I am grateful for a whole day of meetings, for conversation on the bus, for the particular warmth of an autumn sun, for Pinot Noir, for homemade chicken pie, for central heating, and for feeling today that I might, honestly, be a little better. Just a little, but I'll take it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gratitude #23

Apparently, according to my psychologist, I have gotten better. This is the same psych who commented today that she could see how I ran marathons. Apparently I am very determined. I am grateful to her for telling me over and over again how well I am doing. I am grateful for actually feeling slightly better today. I am extremely grateful for The Lacuna. I am grateful that it didn't rain on me today. I am grateful that the cyclone seems to be missing Suva, and that my colleague who is there at the moment is therefore ok.

I'm grateful for quite a lot today. This is one of the better days.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gratitude #22

Today I'm grateful for a good massage, a full day at work, lunch with a friend, and the last vestiges of a gold sunset over the Western hills as I caught a bus home. It was a beautiful evening, very much appreciated as I walked from the bus stop home. Perfect for some night cycling, and trail running. I promised myself that when I'm over all this I'll go for a run up in those same hills, on an autumn night just like this.

Oh, and I'm also grateful for reading on the bus, for the bus coming a little early, and for Hamish having dinner ready pretty much as I was walking in the door.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gratitude #21

Today I am grateful for reading again. I bought Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna just before Christmas, but it's been too difficult for me to read. Skimming through blogs is about all I've had the concentration levels for. Today I've managed to read for shortish periods at a time, without having to struggle too much.

Hamish and I also took a huge load of stuff off to the Tip Shop and landfill. We stopped for berry icecream at the Happy Valley icecream parlour, and then bought some more test pots from Resene. We had lunch at Bordeaux then stopped in at Glengarrys to check out their cider range.

Resene Tea looks rather nice in the hallway, so I think we have a winner, and the cider wasn't bad either!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gratitude #20

Today I'm grateful for smoochy, sleepy cats. Now that it's starting to get cool Gaffer and Ede have rediscovered the underside of the duvet.

I'm also grateful for not getting wet during my walk to Newtown, and for the lovely taxi driver who took me home. I'm glad I was able to make his day simply by giving him my supermarket petrol voucher, It wasn't like we were going to use it!

Tissy Takes Over the Kitty House

Gaffer has quite literally been in bed all day. Oh - no - he just got up. He's been there since snuggling in with me some time during the night. Oh to be a cat!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gratitude #19

Today I'm glad I was inside when the big storm hit. Watching it approach was just mind blowing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gratitude #18

Splore Tree of Life

Today I am grateful for a massage, gifted to me by a friend. I am amazed and thrilled that I managed to lie face down for nearly an hour on the table, and also thrilled that my back, neck and shoulder muscles seemed to want to loosen up.

The feeling of well being lasted till mid-afternoon, and I had one of the better days I've had in a while. I seem to be repeating the pattern of a bad day followed by a couple of good ones. I am grateful for good days!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gratitude #17

Clouds over Wellington a few nights ago.

I'm grateful for another good night's sleep and another day of beautiful weather. Is that getting repetitive yet? I'm grateful Ede decided to curl up in bed with me last night. I'm grateful for the rug Fi gave us which has replaced the ugly grey carpet in the spare bedroom. I'm grateful for Hamish, and for Hamish ordering Indian.

I'm grateful for the ability to read blogs, so as to live vicariously through the lives of others.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Gratitutude #16

Today I am grateful for memories of running along Oriental Bay on hot summer days, and jumping into Oriental Bay to cool off afterwards.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Gratitude #15

Today I'm grateful for not feeling as bad today as I'd expected, given that I didn't get much sleep last night. I'm also grateful for a good appointment with my GP, for a tasty pasta meal, for not having put on any weight and for another stunning early winter day.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Gratitude #14

I'm grateful for another good day.

I'm grateful for another sleep in. Hamish and I then drove into town to the Cuba Street apartment of some former Auckland friends of ours. On the way we bought apartment-warming cup cakes.

We sat around for a few hours talking, drinking tea and playing with their Ragdoll cats. After a tour of the pool, spa, sun deck and gym facilities we said our goodbyes. I'd been tracking an auction for a wardrobe on Trademe, but lost that. Just as well, as I promptly walked into Pixel Ink and discovered that they were now selling the Flox Robin print I've been lusting after for weeks. Hamish also decided to buy a print he has been eyeing up, so the store made a nice sale at the end of their day.

We stopped into Duke Carvell's for some small plates, a beer and a glass of Rose in the sun, all excellent. From there it was off home for some down time on the sofa.

It's been a great, sunny, warm yet cool autumn day.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Gratitude #13

Today I'm grateful for a sleep in. I'm grateful for a phone call from Hamish's mother. I'm grateful for Jo coming to pick me up, and our two and a half hour long walk from the Brooklyn wind turbine along the Sanctuary fenceline, then back along a gravel road and a narrow bush singletrack to the turbine again. Afterwards we sat in the sun in a peaceful bushy courtyard out the back of the cafe in Brooklyn. I had a big, cold orange juice and a salad with crunchy, salty duck.

Afterwards Jo and I tracked our trainer, Dave, found the Taupo Ironman, as he finished the bike and started on the run. I spent the rest of the afternoon tracking him, as he finally finished in a little over ten and a half hours.

Today I am also grateful that Hamish is on his way home.

Today has been a good day.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Gratitude #12

Today I'm grateful for the chance to try Phototherapy, or Syntonics. I'm grateful that my diplopia seem to have, in the case of the vertical, disappeared, and in the case of the horizontal, greatly reduced.

Hopefully all of this will finally start to make a difference.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Gratitude #11

Today I'm grateful for making my way through a full day at work. I'm grateful again for a beautiful late summer/early winter day. I'm grateful that Hamish is gaving a good time in Sydney, that my cold is easing up, and that Tissy woke me when she came in at 3a.m. so that I could catch her mouse and take it outside. I'm grateful for the fact that I already have plans for both days this weekend.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Gratitude #10

Today I am grateful for a stunning day. I am grateful this cold is abating. I am grateful for a good session with the neuropsych where she reinforced for me how well I was doing. I am extremely grateful for discovering Tiramisu flavoured Toffee Pops, though I suspect this will become a dangerous passion!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Gratitude #9

Today I am grateful that I still have enough of a sense of smell to be able to locate and remove the rotting mouse from under the bed. I am grateful for long hot showers, for getting home on the bus without my eustacian tubes exploding, and for being tucked up in bed.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Read Write Poem Prompt #116

At midnight
The carnival
fell to bed.
The ferris wheel
driver slumped
leg dangly over the
side of a faded
red car.
The mirror maze
man draped curtains
over twenty four
panes of glass
then another over
himself and lay
on the floor
to sleep.
In the haunted
house the ghouls
hushed their howling
and hung blinking
in the half light.

Under the even
ticking of a rusting
sky clock, the
silhouette of a
small girl with
candy floss in her
hand chased a
balloon through
the carnival's

Gratitude #8

Today I'm grateful for having money to throw at this balance problem. Appointment number one with a new optometrist out of the way today, and another two hours of testing due on Friday.