Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Winter Walks and Reading

I awoke to the sound of slurping. My waking was one of those disorientating
transitions from sleep to consciousness, where the mind has forgotten if it is morning, afternoon, or next week. Not six inches from my nose was a mug of tea, on it was balanced a plate, and on the plate was a slice of toast that was being progressively stripped of its thin coating of butter and Vegemite by the pink tongue of Nigella Stopit. 

Over the last couple of weeks, more than half of my life has been lived at floor level. I have occupied a similar ecological niche to Nigella Stopit, sharing her electric heater and hand made rug, and seeing under the furniture, the way she does. It is quite an interesting world down here, you would be surprised at the adventure playground that chairs and tables offer, when viewed from underneath. 

It is also not such a bad place to read books, and from this low altitude I have been averaging about one good novel every day and a half. One of the best thus far has been a wonderful book by an Author that I have not come across before, Andrew Nicoll. The book has the ominous title, "If You're Reading This I'm Already Dead", and is about a certain Otto Whitte (acrobat of Hamburg), a circus troupe (complete with camel), and a daring attempt to make Otto king of Albania. 

Other authors that I have had keep me company over the last two weeks have included Paul Theroux, Marina Lewycka, and Kadar Abdolah. I must say a word about the latter author. Iranian author, Kadar Abdolah, fled to the Netherlands in 1988 as a political refugee. His book, Het huis van de moskee (The House of the Mosque) was first published in 2005, and published as an English translation in 2010. It is one of the best books I have ever read, and gives a sometimes tender, sometimes heart wrenchingly sad account of how Islamic people struggled to cope with American influence and the changes that the second half of the twentieth century brought to their country. It is a book that is written with great understanding and humanity, and I hope that you will read it.

It has been nice reading books but, sadly, I have been unable to work at my potting for the last month. The back problem that started around April 16, when I was in the final week of getting pots fired for the exhibition in Timaru, has left me with a very painful left leg that makes it hard work to walk at times, and I cannot sit for more than a minute or two without a lot of pain (again in that leg), so my waking time has been either standing or lying flat on a mattress on the floor. I'll be seeing the doctor again tomorrow. Needless to say, it is a frustrating time, and a potentially worrying one, so reading has been a very welcome activity. At times like this we give thanks for good friends and family.

I have tried to keep walking, although this is not always easy, and I take the camera with me, to give me a good excuse to stop from time to time and take in the view. 

The weather has been dramatic, and winter has come to us like a roaring lion. We had snow yesterday, and the main road North of Dunedin was impassable for most of it. We are about 40 kilometres (25 miles) North of the city, and our little village was soon full of large trucks and the occasional bus, that were waiting to get further South.  Some of them had a very long wait indeed!

A big thank you to all of you who left kind comments on my previous post or who got in touch by phone or by letter, it was thoughtful of you. You will realise from my blog that our cats are very much part of this family here, and it is always very sad when one of them reaches the end of this life. We have been very blessed with the companionship of our little ones, and our lives have been enriched by them.

Anyway, I'll cease babbling on, and put a few of the photos with this that I have taken recently.

Kind Thoughts to you. P.


Tracey Broome said...

Ahhh, the pain down the leg caused by the back! I know it well and have known it since 10th grade. Mine comes and goes and for some reason I can mostly ignore it, but there are days.... I had a round of it last week and laid on a heating pad all one Sunday. We just were not meant to walk vertically, I am convinced:-)
Feel better soon!

smartcat said...

It's great that you have a bunch of good books to keep you moderately sane.....I bet Nigella Stopit is doing her best to help out.
I just hate the way our bodies mess with us. For me it's knees. I find Casteva (a topical lotion containing capsaicin) is more effective than any analgesic.I just have to remember not to overdo when I am pain free.
I always enjoy a good babble....keep it up.

Angie said...

I so feel for you and your leg and back ...I have to sit in the right chair or I get pain in my hip/leg as I sit ...or if I'm not in pain when sitting, my knees cease for a few steps when i get up and I feel 100+. I also use a camera as a reason to stop as walking makes my back hurt but to stop the pain I really need to sit or lie ....catch 22 eh.
Your photos are stunning ...thank you for sharing your life and surroundings ... Hugs to everyone. xx

Melissa Rohrer said...

How frustrating. I hope your doctor visit is helpful.

Michèle Hastings said...

Send healing energy your way! Get well soon.

Judy Shreve said...

So sorry to hear of your leg/back pain. Is it sciatica? Sending you healing thoughts. Love your photos and will check out the books you mentioned.
Get well soon!

Arkansas Patti said...

Aw Peter, I am so sorry you are having such pain. I do hope the Dr. visit brings you some relief. I too have had back problems most of my life but lately things have been great. I hope you get to that stage soon. It will happen.
So good that you like to read. That is a blessing when you have to stay put.
Do take care friend and be MUCH better soon.

Armelle Léon said...

I am really sorry for you Peter, I hope you will be better soon, Yves had the same pain and had a surgery not to lose his leg, and at the moment my son have the same pain too.
I send you many healing thoughts and my best wishes.
Your photos are wonderful, I love the black swan.

Take care of you

Peter said...

Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts. I see that many of you have also experienced bad backs and knees!

Ha, Ha, Tracey, evolution was definitely not a good idea, we should still be up in the trees swinging around!

Angie, hugs are greatly appreciated! I think that someone could make a good living from making "right chairs" for people that need them! xx

Melissa, I have been given new pills and potions for pain and inflammation, but sometimes I suspect that medicine hasn't advanced much further than the art of weather forecasting!

Michele, healing energy much appreciated!

Judy, yes the problem is mostly sciatica, certainly it is that nerve that is shouting the loudest at the moment! Hope you enjoy the books.

Books are a great blessing, and they do exercise the imagination, which is the great gift we receive as children, and so often let go.

I am sorry that Yves and your son have had so much trouble too, I do remember Yves going for surgery, but had not quite understood the reason.
It has been delightful being able to take photos. I wonder if you have black swans in France? Or only the white ones?

Sue said...

Sorry you're in pain; how debilitating. Hope it leaves soon by way of whatever works!
Thanks for sharing your books with us, and glad they help you cope with having to lie on a mattress. I'm sure Nigella Stopit enjoys the company at floor level.
Great pics. I especially like the full moon one. Moons are nice.

Armelle Léon said...

Bonjour Peter,

I hope you are better, I don't remember having seen a black swan, white ones, yes, near the river not in the sea.
Yves went for the back surgery many years ago, he was a fisherman at this moment, the last surgery was different. It's not easy to speak about that, he is better now.

Peter said...

Hi Sue,
Good to hear from you... Eeeeek, I should have been in touch with you regarding catching up in Timaru, and all the events of the last few weeks got in the way. Sorry about that. Nigella Stopit is good company at floor level, I think she will be slightly disappointed when I spend more time at my normal human altitide! The moon was like an enormous orange when it came up over the horizon the night that I took that photo. I tried some when it was more orange, but didn't really manage to do it justice.

Bonsoir Armelle,
Je me sens mieux aujourd'hui merci! I understand, from wikipedia, that the black swan we have here is really an Australian bird that was introduced in 1864. Black swans are beautiful on the water and in flight.
Best Wishes to you and Yves, P & L & NS

Jill M Hodgson said...

What beautiful photos!
I have just had a week in bed after damaging an already arthritic knee. I know a lot of outlandish claims are made for this remedy but I firmly believe it's played a role in my much faster recovery than usual this time, ..... cider vinegar and honey in warm water. What's more it's very delicious and soothes the troubled soul.

Teresa Evangeline/Bayou Summer said...

Peter, I hope my belated response to this post finds your back improving and the pain lessening. It sounds like you have discovered a new perspective on life being closer to the floor... :) It's fun seeing things with new eyes. Wish it was pain free for you, though... I love the photo of Nigella Stopit, and the others are beautiful. Is that a black swan?? Hope this finds you feeling much better. Teresa

Peter said...

Hi Jill,
cider vinegar and honey in warm water sounds nice to drink, and probably wonderful to bathe in!! Wasn't it Cleopatra that bathed in asses milk, I wonder if that is good for backs and knees?? Hope your knee is much better soon, I am starting to realize just how much we rely on such things!

Hi Teresa,
Happy to report a genuine improvement today, and not much pain. It is nice to start to contemplate getting my hands into some clay again soon! The photo of Nigella Stopit was taken a year ago when I was working on accounts for the business... She got into the box of files and made herself an adorable distraction! The bird is a black swan, they are quite common in this part of the world, but we don't have white swans.

Christine Covert said...

If you have not yet read Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies you are in for a treat.

Peter said...

Hi Christine,
Good to hear from you, welcome to my blog site. Thank you very much for the book suggestions, I have not read any of Hilary Mantel's books before, but have just been looking through some reviews of Wolf Hall and it sounds a very interesting read, just the sort of thing that I need at the moment, so I will see if I can get a copy from our library.

Amy said...

Have been away from blogs for a couple weeks and am now catching up. Leg pain- ugh! I can only say that I hope you feel better and that I remember one of my teachers telling me how much better it is to throw at the wheel when the wheel is on cinder blocks. I used to throw pottery while seated and now I stand and well, my lower back pain stopped almost immediately! I can tolerate it all more and get more done. Heard it said that cross training or activity that keeps you mobile and not in the same position for a long while helps. I've come to think it's just an ongoing challenge for potters- ugh!!! Hope you're back to 100% soon.

Peter said...

Hi Amy,
Good to hear from you. Interesting that you are finding things better for your back throwing whilst standing. I'll certainly be doing that for a while when I get back to using clay again. It will take a while to get used to working on an electric wheel, as I have used a kick wheel for the last 7 years, but... I might even get to like it! Hope I can use the kick wheels again though, I'm rather fond of them!