Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

So Far, So Good

I was overjoyed to do a circular walk round the village this morning, a distance of about one and a quarter miles. This felt strangely exciting and liberating as I've been forced to rest my leg at home for a couple of weeks because of a strained hamstring muscle. Although painful, it was obviously only a very minor sprain, since I can now walk perfectly normally.

In the gardens I saw the fat red seed heads of climbing roses and the papery brown seed heads of dahlias, and also many signs of spring's coming resurrection: purple and yellow crocuses, multi-coloured primulas, yellow jasmine, aconites, snowdrops, catkins, the buds of flowering currant; and tulips and daffodils were pushing up through the earth.

The diet still goes well: my weight is now 14 st 1 lb, so I've lost 12 lb in three and a half weeks, which is good going. The weight loss will slacken off now my body has stabilised — perhaps 1-2 lb per week. But my target of 13 st by the end of April is quite achievable, I think.

I've started exercising again — but I'm taking things very gently indeed. I'm still probably spending too much time on the computer but, hey, you've got to do something, and I enjoy it. And I've been reading loads — Rimbaud, Verlaine, Graham Robb, Jean Giono, Jostein Gaarder.

So far, so good.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Progress (Of A Sorts)

The strained hamstring is slowly improving, and the bird's egg-sized cyst on my chest is shrinking, but it's slow progress. I'm now off all the pills (painkillers and antibiotics) — they were beginning to upset my stomach. I've been forced to slow down over the past couple of weeks, which is probably no bad thing. Usually I'm rushing about here and there far too much and doing stuff far too quickly. At first I had the strange illusion I was actually living in slow motion. Pretty soon, however, I grew to relish the enforced stillness and slowness. Many books have been read (from Lawrence through Thomas Merton to Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu), much music listened to, many radio programmes heard. Now I just want to get on the move again.

The diet goes well. I'm taking in around 1500 calories per day or less, and a typical day's meal consists of muesli or a boiled egg with a slice of toast and Marmite for breakfast; salad or a low-calorie soup for lunch; and a fish (sometimes white, sometimes oily) / meat (often chicken, sometimes red meat) / vegetarian dish in rotation for dinner, with plenty of veggies, followed by something like three fruits with either yoghurt, sorbet or ice cream for pudding. Three meals, no snacks, no alcohol. If I'm hungry in-between meals, and I rarely seem to be, I'll eat some fruit or a crispbread with low-fat Philadelphia cheese or marmite.

The weight. Started out at 14 st 13 lb on 28 January. Am now 14 st 5 lb. Target weight: 13 st.

The exercise. Practically non-existent because of the leg. Though I have been doing some routines involving non-upper thigh body parts from a supine position (ooh, err!)

The meditation. Nothing specific, but many contemplative moments throughout the day.

The computer. Hopeless. I'm on it all the time!

I'll end with my poem Slowing Down, which seems appropriate.

I slowed right down today,
Just slowed right down.
How little we see most of the time!
So I slowed right down.

And saw a fork-tailed kite circle then drift
On a blue highway, until it was no more.
I cracked a sunflower shell between my teeth
And curled the seed out with my tongue,
The taste intense and bitter-sweet.
It hit my palate like a burst of sun.

Today I listened to a stream
Trickle then rush from Extremadura
Into Castilla y León.
I heard the hollow clunk of cow bells
Jangle like Tibetan wind chimes.

I smelled a cistus bush today.
It reeked of incense. And I sniffed
The fragrant, bitter scent of thyme,
The aromatic tang of eucalyptus.

Today I felt a mat
Of soft, green moss under my hand,
And, underfoot, crunched oak leaves, crisp and brown,
And spiky chestnut husks, like tiny hedgehogs.
I fingered the jagged edge of stones,
Felt the smooth roundedness of rock.

I slowed right down today.
I slowed right down.
How blind we are to what is happening!
How quickly we walk on!

But, for today,
I slowed, I slowed right down.
I slowed.
I slowed.
I slowed time down.

I slowed myself



Thursday, February 7, 2013


"Februalia was the Roman festival of ritual purification. The festival, which is basically one of Spring washing or cleaning (associated also with the raininess of this time of year) is old, and possibly of Sabine origin. According to Ovid, Februare is a Latin word which refers to means of purification and derives from an earlier Etruscan word referring to purging." WIKIPEDIA

It's par for the course, isn't it? No sooner have I begun my own physical, mental and spiritual Spring cleaning than I've had to visit the doctor twice in a week.

The small sebaceous cyst (not dangerous) on my chest had grown larger and was becoming painful. I'm now on penicillin, and if that doesn't do the trick it will have to be surgically excised.

The second problem was the niggling muscular pain at the back of my upper left thigh which I developed after my walk along the Viking Way last Thursday. It suddenly got a lot worse, and the upshot is: I have a strained hamstring. I'm astonished how painful and debilitating this is. I've pulled muscles before, and although they were painful in certain positions, and although they took longer to heal than I hoped, the whole situation was bearable. But this strained hamstring is painful all the time no matter what posture I'm in (though some positions are better than others) and seems to affect my whole locomotion. I can't get comfortable in bed — lying on my side is out of the question. It's difficult to put on trousers and socks, and to get up from a chair. And when upright I can hardly walk (without groaning and general melodrama). The co-codamol I've been prescribed hardly cuts through the pain.

So my new exercise regime is on the back burner for a while. However I've already lost a fair amount of weight, which I'm pleased about, and this state of relative immobility is a good excuse for meditation, for reading lots of books and for listening to lots of music.

I'll give more details about my weight and the type and amount of food I'm eating in my next post. In the meantime I'll groan my way upstairs and go back to bed!