On seeing (and D-ing)

Recently A month ago (!!) I wrote about how well things were going. Pretty much directly after pressing publish, my mood and my house nosedived into a swamp of grey, exhausted ugh.

Like before, I blame the vitamin D. Except in this case more the lack of.

***

Some history:

When my deficiency was first diagnosed (last autumn) I went to the chemist and asked for vitamin D. I didn’t look at the various brightly advertised packages in the main shop, I went straight to the the counter and bought the boring-looking box of tablets I was offered. I figured they were most likely to do the job if they didn’t have to work on convincing you how much they were doing.

I read somewhere that just existing uses up approximately 500-1000 units a day. In summer it’s usually easy to produce enough to live on and have some left over to store for winter. I was outside a lot and it was a very sunny summer, I just seem to have a problem with the production part of the equation. At the end of the summer I had way less than most people have at the end of the winter. Whatever. I’m supposed to be replenishing my stocks so I was told to take 2000 units. The Internet is full of opinions and some people are convinced that I could easily triple the daily dosage or take a lot more once a week. I am very wary of taking too much of anything so I chose to go slowly and steadily, taking them daily and according to the instructions.

I noticed the difference almost immediately. I could pick things up, my cycling speed increased (a bit), I didn’t cry so often. I wasn’t as tired. I was amazed. Life was more lifelike.

<..approx 3 months later..>

I went home (to my parents house) for Christmas and didn’t take enough tablets with me (I had a spare sheet at work but forgot to pack them). I was ok, I’d mostly forgotten what life was like without them and I figured I could take them on alternate days or take less to make them last longer. It wasn’t as if I was going to be there for long, just under 2 weeks.

I got progressively more irritable and a few days after Christmas my brother had the questionable pleasure of an evening in my tearful mope-y company. Not a good use of the available time.

I headed to a supermarket for more tablets. They were much weaker, I think 250 units each, but I took several at a time and they tided me through til I got back. I didn’t want to waste them so I took one strong one instead of two and made up the difference with the weaker ones.

On the recommendation of a friend who swears by them, when I reached the end of the box, I decided to swap the tablets for drops. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it made sense to buy it ‘pure’ in oil without the chalky tablet material. There are a million options online and unfortunately very little regulation so I bought the sort she uses to reduce the risk of being scammed. The bottle was quite expensive but contained the equivalent of several boxes so each individual dose worked out (insignificantly) cheaper. You can drip it onto food or a spoon or directly onto your tongue. The bottle is glass and there’s no plastic blisterpacks involved. Theoretically they are a good thing.

In practice, and in retrospect, after taking nothing for a couple of days while I waited for them to arrive and using the drops for a month and a bit, I have the feeling that they don’t have the same effect, or possibly have no positive effect at all.

***

March was hard.

Everything hurt, I struggled to pick up my water filter or heave my bike up curbs. I couldn’t make the glass do what I wanted it to do. Getting up was arduous and getting out of the house was a feat. Cycling to work was challenging and slow (for a comparison, I cycled something like 80km over one weekend in February without a problem). I was permanently cold. I stayed at home at weekends, occasionally in bed.

I spent a week or so crying, more or less nonstop, about ridiculous things (like signposts and Google’s inability to direct me to where I want to go), and broken things and things that feel like they matter (even though they partially only exist in my head) and things that aren’t even things, and occasionally I just cried, no reason necessary.

Sometimes crying is/was the only thing that makes/made sense. Even when it doesn’t.

If I cried in the morning I stayed at home until I could stop my eyes leaking long enough to feel safe taking my bike on the roads. If I cried at work I took a break and typed up invoices instead of blindly playing with fire and hot glass. If I cried at home in the evening I took myself to bed with a hot water bottle and a box of tissues. I cooked and ate out of the saucepan or the frying pan, or didn’t cook and ate cereal out of as many bowls as I could without having to wash up. I left everything scattered on the table, worktops or on the floor next to the sofa. I didn’t do anything non-urgent. I made a point of not trying to not cry.

Last week, during a midnight crying attack, I wrote a whole post (in my head) about how everyone tells you to surround yourself with people who are better than you so you improve at whatever you want to be able to do, and how none of them ever tell you how to deal with permanently feeling like you are completely incapable.

From where I am, it doesn’t matter which way I look, everybody I have anything to do with has something they excel at. All around me, nothing but experts and success. PhDs, renovations, world travel, glassblowing masterpieces, speeches, new jobs, new houses, holidays, woodworkers, programmers, telescopes, exhibitions, parties, readers, writers, opening ceremonies, secretaries with neat cupboards of labelled and ordered paperperfection, makers of bread, collectors of overtime, parents of multiple children, runners, cyclists, etc etc etc. People are constantly doing things and doing them well. All the time. (For ever and ever. Amen.)

Faced with and compared to all this genius and talent and knowledge and ability, I failed on all fronts. Unless wallowing counts, and even then I know people who are properly depressed and not just paddling in the shallows where jealousy and “can’t even” and inadequacy and self-deprecation and all kinds of darkness lurk.

When I told her at a check up, my Obgyn said the lack of strength and motivation and excess of tears is probably either Depression or Deficiency and ordered another vitamin D test to see if I’m actually building up a Depot like I’m supposed to, or if I need to up the Dosage (look at all the Ds!). She asked what, if anything, had changed in the last few months and the only halfway relevant thing I could think of was switching to drops. She agreed with the theory that oil is a “better” solution, but suggested I go back to what works. Apparently different people are better able to use vitamins in different forms.

Given the choice, I told her, I’d much (much!) rather take the deficiency – especially when you can get tablets in every chemists and most supermarkets, and therapists are booked out until approximately 2080. She laughed and wished me deficiency (Germans are experts at wishing people things).

***

The other day I was talking to H about various things and he said something along the lines of: “..and you saw me. As a person, not just someone who was doing something. No one else does that..”

Awww πŸ™‚

The best thing about it?

He wasn’t “just being nice”. He wasn’t scraping the barrel for things he could cheer me up with, he was genuinely thankful for being seen and was telling me as part of his story. It wasn’t about me.

A couple of days before that, B had a problem with something her husband had said. We talked and wrote and thought and discussed. Once he/they had smoothed things out, she wrote to thank me for taking the time to listen, and for giving her the chance to go through her thoughts before they spoke.

If I rack my brain and trail through my emails/texts/letters I find evidence of other people who have said similar things.

I think I’ve found my super power.

πŸ™‚

I can’t do all the things but I can see the people who can, and not doing all the things gives me time to be there for people (most of whom are in the middle of doing or about to do great things).

If I can be good at something, I can work on not minding being awful at everything else.

Going back to the crying, maybe I just needed a break to wash my eyes so I could get on with seeing.

(I bought a new box of tablets too – I couldn’t keep up with buying tissues :))

On having beans-around-toast for dinner

There are some days when I go shopping on the way home from work and come back with a bag full of ingredients and a head full of ideas for dinner. Days when I look forward to peeling and chopping and frying and mixing.

And then there are days like today.

A day where I get home, fall into a chair and only think about moving when I realise it’s dark and I’m hungry.

A day when washing up a saucepan* in order to heat up a tin of beans feels like too much work.

A day on which sitting at the table with a knife and fork trying to keep the beans from flying across the kitchen is a daunting prospect and wielding a cheese grater something unimaginably difficult.

On days like today I cheat.

I tear the toast into pieces, dropping them directly into the saucepan** with the beans, and crumble a piece of cheese on top with my hands. Then I stir it with a wooden spoon until everything is a big sticky lumpy orange mess. And then I go back to my chair and eat it. Out of the saucepan.

And then I call it a day and go to bed, leaving the unwashed saucepan on the counter in the kitchen..

Night all! πŸ™‚

* edit: one I didn’t wash up after using it last time..

** For anyone wondering, yes, I washed the saucepan first, before I started cooking. :p

On chopping onions

K: how do you want me to chop these onions?

KC: I don’t care. I don’t know how to chop onions in multiple ways. I think just stab them to death..

K: so little squares are ok?

KC: yes.

Love it πŸ™‚

On making the first mince pies of the season (or ever)

I don’t remember the last time I waited until this close to Christmas to start making mince pies…

Last night, a friend came over. She’s German and had never even heard of mince pies, let alone thought about making one. That obviously had to be rectified. Here’s the process of rectification:

Pre-rolled puff pastry. It was supposed to be specially amazing with extra butter, but it was sticky and soft and just generally hard to work with – next time I’ll stick to the usual stuff πŸ™‚
Normal sized tray – miniature moulds
6 rolls of puff pastry later there was still mince meat left in the first of 6 litre-tubs…
No way I’m going to faff about with a pastry brush – I dunk the lids in a mixture of milk and beaten egg, push one side into the top of a pile of sugar and hope they land sugar side up when I throw them towards the cases…
The first plateful (proper sized) – mostly straight out of the oven

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I think she done good πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
(Photos feature my friend’s hands – I was wielding the camera :))

On making mincemeat of it – part 1

Every year, I make a load of mincemeat, for myself, my family, and anyone else who wants some.

Every year, I make it up as I go along, and no one’s complained yet.

This is part 1 of the recipe – insofar as it can be called a recipe – for 2015.

***

A word of caution to anyone who wants to actually use this recipe:
Please wait until I’ve finished and got it into jars, BEFORE starting. I tweak recipes as I go, and that’s probably annoying for people who follow instructions… (or who live further away from shops than I do).

***

Take one huge saucepan…

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…the rind and juice from 8 oranges (ca 2kg) and 8 lemons (ca. 1kg)…

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…16 grated apples (or half grated, half chopped) (ca.3kg). I took the cores out, but I suppose you could leave them in…

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…6-8 packets (ca.1,5kg) of raisins/sultanas, checking for bits of twig first…

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….a tub of chopped prunes/dried plums…

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…a tray of dried figs…

…4/3 cup of soft light brown sugar and 4/3 cup of soft dark brown sugar. (It probably doesn’t matter what kind of sugar, and I might add more tomorrow)…

…and a lot of allspice (2-3 tablespoons).

Stir well, and leave to sit overnight.
(A couple of pictures are missing – I’ll add them later)

On improvisations on a swede

I found a swede in my local supermarket last week.
That is a big deal here in Berlin where people generally don’t eat them.

image
A picture for RosieSmrtiePants (Stolen from http://mkalty.org/swede/)

Anyway, I didn’t eat it last week because I wasn’t home in time to peel, chop, boil and mash it before my DB died of starvation.

Yesterday was my chance.

I spent almost 10 minutes noisily looking for the peeler (and sorting out the drawer it should have been in but which was full of Schneebesen* instead) before DB came and dug it out of a different drawer so he could go back to watching TV in peace.

It only occurred to me once I’d strained the water (and reopened and messed up the schneebesen drawer) that my masher was still in a box marked ‘kitchen’ in the depths of my in-laws’ cellar.

I like to think I’m open minded and easy going. Sometimes I convince other people to think so too. Yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I assume one can eat swede cubes without mashing them. I can only assume because I always eat mine mashed and I wasn’t prepared to change my swede eating experience just because I hadn’t got round to unpacking yet.

I armed myself with a spatula and set upon the arduous task of squishing 3 million cubes against the side of the saucepan.

I was approximately a third of the way through when DB started prowling. He has a special kind of prowl reserved for when he’s hungry and I haven’t finished cooking yet, and this was that kind of prowl.

He asked if he could help so I pushed the saucepan in his direction.

This is what happened next:

image

I was speechless.

I’ve seen (and participated in) a lot of improvisation, but I’ve never seen (or thought about) anyone mashing a swede with a cup.

It worked though, so I was also very impressed.

I truly have a man of many talents

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

* Schneebesen literally means snow brooms but physically means handwhisks… And DB says English is a silly language πŸ˜‰

On patience and pizza dough

I’m kneading pizza dough when DB walks into the kitchen…

DB: Did you put herbs in that?
Me: Yes
DB: Then it’s not dirt after all…
Me: ??!!

– 2 minutes later –

DB: Shall I turn the oven on?
Me: Not yet, I haven’t finished kneading, and then it’s got to rise and I still have to cut the toppings up and…
DB: How long’s it gunna be?
Me: Dunno. Maybe an hour?
DB: Don’t take this the wrong way, but can we buy ready made dough next time?
Me: ?!!!

It’s a jolly good thing I wasn’t making scones.

On a roll

I have a new job!! πŸ™‚

I start in February πŸ™‚ Gives me time to move house, go skiing and visit my folks before people expect great things of me πŸ˜‰ and that in spite of being stuck in the current job until Christmas.

Actually, that’s not bad either – it means I get paid Christmas money on top of my usual salary and there’s never much work on in December because everyone’s too busy partying πŸ˜‰ (Glass Things still get broken, just not the sort I have to fix)

And the powers that be are going to write me a super reference πŸ™‚

And my MeisterstΓΌck is finished and I passed at least 2 of the 5 theory exams – the other 3 haven’t been marked yet… Just got to finish the project and sit the practical exam…

And the DB’s marmy is cooking for us tonight to celebrate my new job πŸ™‚

Things couldn’t be better at the moment πŸ™‚

On priorities

I have a problem with priorities.

Take today for example.

I came home cold, tired and hungry. Also my hair was skanky and my house was a mess.

The Mental To-Do List said:

  • Sleep
  • hot bath (+wash hair)
  • cook+eat
  • tidy up.

However.

The main problem with this list was the order. If I went directly to bed, I would not only forfeit Β£200, I would also not achieve any of the other things on the list. The same risk hung over the bath.

Besides. I was hungry.

So I braved the kitchen.

Actually that’s a lie. First of all I sat in a heap on the sofa for almost an hour until I could work up the energy to brave the kitchen. If I’d had any milk I would have eaten muesli and ignored the rest, probably falling asleep on the sofa. As it was I emptied and filled the dishwasher and made the best easy-dinner I’ve made for a long time – not that I’ve really cooked anything in ages: Onions, Mince, Vap* and Fresh Tagliatelle. Frying onions has to be one of the best smells ever :).

Now that I’ve eaten (at the computer :S) I suppose I’d better tackle the rest of the things on my list.

But I don’t wanna.

I have 37 ideas for interesting writings in my head. And the computer’s on, and the keyboard’s warmed up. And my computer-blanket is good for snuggling into. And tidying up is dull.

Except I know I’ll regret not-doing-it tomorrow.

So I’d better peel myself off my rocking stool and get my cleaning hat on.

ARGH.

No.

I don’t really have a cleaning hat.

Sorry.

* short for ‘evaporated milk’