Well. That’s Embarrassing.

Mehdi seemed surprised to see me. Particularly when I asked him why I was there. He reminded me we had agreed I would not need to return until the stitches came out unless there was new information from pathology.

I agreed, and said that’s why I was surprised to get an invitation via the appointment app. this morning. Then it dawned on him. His face was a picture.

That’s what happens when you have automated protocols without human oversight. The results come in, an invitation is generated to make an appointment to discuss them. Anxious patients put two and two together.

As a dear old and wise friend used to say to me in a broad Norfolk accent – or was it a Norfolk Broad accent?;

Doont joomp ta kon-kloo-shuns, lad”.

Sorry Norfolkers if I didn’t capture that properly. A fond memory. No piss-taking intended.

Mehdi apologised, I said I’d send him my fuel bill. He laughed. I smiled wryly.

He checked the wounds, expressed satisfaction that they are healing cleanly, but still won’t let me swim until the sutures come out. Bugger. If he had conceded that the trip would have been worthwhile.

At least I don’t have to pay for the appointment.

Observations, Dining at the Pub

A couple, middle aged, on holiday
He orders the parmigiana,
She the shrimp salad with pink dressing
They always order that, away

Another couple with a noisy child
The most interesting person in the room
Who does not want the mashed potato
Because it contains something strange

They order the same things they eat at home
And marvel that the vegetables include broccolini
And artichoke in the Pommes Purée
Who would have thought of that?

An old couple, he taciturn and grim, she loquacious,
Eat in respective misery and chatter
A complacent lifetime in their pockets
Neither connecting with each other or the food


A young man and the girl to impress
“We’ll have the escallop de veau”
He’s disappointed when it comes
“Where are the scallops?”
She’s trying not to smile.
I’m not.

At the corner tables sit the regulars,
talking loudly into each other’s hearing aid
Old men from the camp, who cannot cook
And even now, alone, won’t take the time to learn
They order steaks well done, with chips and salad
And apple crumble with whipped cream.


The waiter, young and earnest, recites the specials
They don’t seem that, so much

And I, I realise I’d rather be at the Punjabi
Where smiling Sikhs serve fragrant food

But I order chilli and nachos
And a Coronita
They put lemon in the bottle neck, not lime.
And very little chilli in the chilli

I smile at the noisy youngster
Demanding ice cream
though he hasn’t eaten his mash.

ARF

Sonnet

“The Martini; the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”

H. L. Mencken

I think that I shall never see

A Bottle lovelier than thee

And this companion by thy side

Is quite thine equal, undenied

And though some might discuss the merit

Of lesser, Cossack potato spirit

It’s you the connoisseur preferred

Either shaken, or just stirred.

Either way is just as nice,

In a glass of chinkling ice.

But if one to six I mix you in

I’ll need another five bottles of gin.

Me.

Small Significant Steps

My weight has plateaued again. Despite daily exercise and (mostly) healthy meals. On the other hand I have lowered the saddle on the bicycle a few finger widths. Chubby finger widths.

This is particularly significant because apart from meaning I can put my feet down properly, increasing my safety when I am stopped at an intersection, it is a very encouraging indication that my knees are improving. Also that I’m lighter. My riding posture seems more comfortable too.

Best of all, I pedalled home this afternoon against a steady strong wind that proved I was contributing a significant effort to my progress. Enough to break out in a sweat despite the cool of the evening.

The pool is getting a lot of use these days. I am sharing a lane most of the time. Sometimes we triple up which involves some accommodations, since I am invariably the slowest swimmer. I am also the only one who does not stop unless I’m waiting my turn for half a lane. The others swim intermittently for a fixed number of lengths or a short time such as half an hour, then leave.

What I find particularly irksome is the couple of old codgers standing still at the shallow end of a lane talking for half an hour and not using the lane while others are triple sharing. If they just want to talk in a moist environment they should go sit in the paddling pool. I’m becoming a grumpy curmudgeon.

I don’t like to feel I’m hogging a lane so when there is a crowd like today I quit after only 90 minutes. That’s a good 4,000 kJ burned at least by my calculation. Another thousand minimum on the bike and a couple of hundred on my daily limp around the camp mean that I can be completely guilt-free however I choose to spend the six to seven thousand kilojoule daily food and beverage budget I allow myself.

Then the black dog reminds me that I’m doing all this just to be fit and well at the Apocalypse. And I pour a couple of gins and tonic. Bombay Sapphire was on special on Saturday.

I had started stocking up for Christmas, but what the hell. Christmas is when you feel.

Living Well

It is true I find solace in preparing and eating food. It has been clearly demonstrated over the years by the fact I always got fat whenever life threw me into the dark places where the black dog dwells. It is why I named my cookery blog Kummerspeck. The German word for comfort food, which translates literally as “grief bacon”.

A couple of my latest experiments, HERE. And. HERE, are pretty good examples.

Those two plates, along with some sweetcorn and a banana smoothie, are my food for today. Delicious, and well within my daily kilojoule budget. Enough spare for a glass of wine or a nip of whiskey before bed.

I won’t deny I still seek solace. I live alone. Far from those I care most about. I have friends, and cheerful acquaintances but the people who contact me to check on my well-being are not those one might expect. Still. Somebody cares.

I still find solace in food. Now I seek out food that is satisfying, tasty, and good for me. It turns out quite surprisingly that with very few exceptions, such as kippers, the foods that are good for me are the very same foods that were bad for me. The only differences are a little in the preparation, and a lot in the portion size.

I have taken this concept of mindful eating seriously to heart. My taste buds are adjusting to less salt. I have really been concentrating on experiencing the appearance, colour, texture, aroma of my food as well as the taste and mouth sensations experienced as I chew, dissolve and swallow. I am distinguishing the umami, salt, bitter and sweet, as well as the aromatic components. I had a couple of steamed sweetcorn cobs today, unsalted, with a nob of unsalted butter. I could taste things I had never really given any attention to before.

This blog is more and more becoming a journal. A letter to myself. Which is how I started out.

Impulse Control

At the Really Really Fat Persons’ Support Group today it was the turn of the psychologist. We learned about triggers, thoughts and feelings, and ways to control our base gourmand impulses.

I took the impulse control lesson to heart, and practiced it on the drive home. As I drove up to the corner where Beefy’s Pies is located, I had a sudden impulse to drive on by and just go home for a salad later in the evening. Why this even occurred to me at all I have no idea, but I fought it manfully with the deep breathing technique I had just learned.

I turned into Beefy’s car park and went to order 1875 kJ of delight. Just to demonstrate to myself I had this impulse rubbish under control, I deliberately and considerately ordered chips and a cappucino as well. Add on another 1800 kJ. That was lunch and dinner taken care of in one fell impulse control. Sod the lettuce.

On to the pool, where I proceeded to burn off the surplus energy. Two hours and an estimated 6,000 negative kJ later it is 6:30 already and I am wondering why it’s dark. How did that happen? The pool is becoming my Happy Place.

Now the uncomfortable return of gravity. It’s time to go home.

All I need this evening is a mandarin and a mineral water.

I’ve got this.

Salted Cashews

Yesterday I passed Woolworths on the way home and called in for a few things I can’t get from Aldi. Lentils, coffee whitener and brown flat mushrooms. I also hoped to find some low sodium soy sauce but I shall have to keep searching, or get it on line.

I spotted cashews on special, 500g for $8. Salted or unsalted. I grabbed a bag from the unsalted box. At home I opened the bag to snack on a few nuts and transfer the rest to a jar. They were salted. Someone put them in the wrong bin, and I didn’t read the label.

This morning I rinsed the nuts off in a strainer under the tap and they are currently in the turbo oven drying on low. I hope that works and they don’t go mouldy.

It is not easy to stay under my daily sodium limit. Most days I transgress to a greater or lesser degree. It’s harder to manage sodium than it is fat, sugar and protein. It’s in everything. Reading labels has become more than a passing interest.

It is impossible to survive without salt but I need not worry about that, because it is also impossible to eat most foods without getting some. Even so, it takes a while to appreciate the unsalted flavours of some foods traditionally salted quite heavily, but we do adapt. Low sodium stock, and spices help.

I have been rewarded for my efforts with an excellent and consistently low blood pressure of around 120/75. My GP says this is the main factor in managing my kidney function.

I still sneak a little bacon into my diet now and then. Usually flavouring something else unsalted, like cabbage or mash. Or both in bubble and squeak. I had a slice of ham in a salad roll yesterday. There was probably more sodium in the bread.