it's about life, my life, quilts, midwifery, and whatever else occurs to me.

11 December 2011

Bump 2.0 - Menopause Edition, or how to procrastinate and still feel you accomplished something

After the afternoon deluge, the clouds lifted a bit, the weather radar had no bad news, and it was still light enough out to go for a run. Or, to be more accurate, a trot. The big questions of the day to be answered were:

1) Can I still run there you go again, damn it, trot! 3 miles without stopping?
2) Do the mosquitoes of SE Qld prefer to bite skin that is sweaty or just moist from humidity?
3) Will the addition of kinesophobia and passive coping variables improve the R^2 ("R-squared") of my linear regression model?

I know, I know. This post is supposed to be about Bump 2.0. I'll leave off digressing and get on with it.

As with labor and birth and parenthood, so menopause. You can read all the books, spend hours at websites, talk to your friends, and go to classes all you want, but nothing can really prepare you for what happens to your body after menopause.

Here is one of the things that happens. One day you look down, and where what you thought was your more or less flat belly used to be, there is now a Bump. Bump 2.0, and not the pregnancy one - that's Bump 1.0. Contract your abs, and the Bump moves with them, but it is still there. Your weight has not changed, but it's apparent that the distribution of said weight, somehow, has.

Since we know there is no such thing as "spot" weight reduction, logic dictates that the only way to deal with Bump 2.0 is a program of "overall" weight reduction. Now for you young women, I'm sorry to say there's more bad news. In addition to bringing you Bump 2.0, menopause plays another cruel trick: your metabolism slows to slightly above Sloth level, and - here's the best part - with no corresponding reduction in appetite! As you might imagine, this makes overall weight reduction a mirage of a goal: you can see it in the distance, but you never actually get there.

Being an HRT* refusenik, I am unable to tell you whether the appearance of Bump 2.0 would have been delayed or prevented had I chosen to maintain my youthful hormone levels through chemistry. If anyone has any pertinent evidence, I'd be interested in knowing about it, although not interested enough to give up refusenik status.

It occurs to me that Bump 2.0 - Menopause Edition would be a good title for a zine or a blog. I'm happy to lend it to anyone who wants to start such a publication, as long as I'm properly credited, of course.

And now the answers to today's big questions:

1) YES!!!! Slow, but I can still do it. The hardest bit, besides all of it, is when I'm downwind of the poo bins.
2) Didn't get any bites in either direction, so research continues.
3) Still to be determined when procrastination time is over.

*hormone replacement therapy, which in the 90s was a really really good thing, and now we know better.

01 September 2011

The Aussie alphabet: J is for Jewish

Who's Jewish in Australia? That can be a tough one to sort out, when the big machers have last names like Pratt. For real. But, turns out his last name was Przecicki until his family moved from Poland to Oz in 1938, and anyway he lived in Melbourne which is definitively not Brisbane.

Melbourne is where the bagels I get in Coles come from. Melbourne is the home of the country's largest Jewish community, as a result of the mid-19th-century Victorian gold rush. It has whole neighbourhoods - sorry, suburbs - that are Jewish in flavour, mostly in the southeast. I've even visited one, Toorak, looking for a good bagel bakery with fresh, not-in-a-plastic-bag-in-Coles bagels. Found bagels - not that good - but walking around I felt like I was back on Avenue J in Brooklyn.

Wikipedia says there were at least 15 Jews who arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. The mishpocheh grew slowly until the gold rush, which saw a big increase. The Jewish population more than doubled between 1933 and 1955, as Oz set no limits on Jewish immigration (hey, they were white, so it was all good!).

Looking for more prominent Aussie Jews, I find Sidney Myer of the department store - yawn, although interestingly he converted in 1920, and Frank Lowy, of Westfield shopping centres fame. Nice to know that every time I spend money in the Temple of Consumerism, aka Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, I'm helping keep Frank near the top of the Rich List. Then Wikipedia surprises me by revealing that John Monash, war hero, honoured with an eponymous university, was a Yid! And as if that weren't enough, so is Zelman Cowen. Zel was the VC at UQ during the Vietnam War and has a building named after him. (I should add that I've wondered whether, with a name like Zelman, that Cowen wasn't a misspelling of Cohen.) Zel was also - shocker - Governor-General from 1977-1982. For those of you who don't know, the GG is the Queen's official representative in Oz, effectively the stunt Queen. And Zel wasn't even the first Jewish GG: nope, that was Isaac Isaacs in the 1930s, who was also the first Australian-born GG.

As for Brisbane, the Jewish population here is estimated at 1800 and change. More idle Googling reveals that there are two orthodox synagogues in Brisbane, one in the CBD (where almost nobody actually lives, so it must be like the one on 47th St in NYC, mostly for the weekday morning minyan) and one in Greenslopes, south of the CBD. There's also Beit Knesset, in Camp Hill, an eastern suburb, that's described as "Progressive." Oddly, the next Google listing after Beit Knesset is Langri Tangpa Buddhist Centre, so guess Google thinks Progressive Judaism is just Buddhism with knaidlach.

And all this Googling has uncovered a nearby source for frozen challah, and bagels that might be better than the ones in Coles: a deli in West End. I may just have to go there tomorrow. But tomorrow is Saturday...will they be open?

12 July 2011

South Africa

It is COLD here! and by "here" I mean Brisbane. I'm coping by sitting about a metre away from my blazing woodstove and eagerly anticipating my temporary respite from winter that begins in a few days. Meanwhile: South Africa.

First I will say that I liked Cape Town, sort of. It's hard for me to truly like a place where I'm warned away from public transport for safety reasons (the Lonely Planet guide calls it "informal redistribution of wealth" - I'll take the formal kind, thanks) and also from walking even short distances after dark. We ha
d unexpectedly mild, sunny weather for the weekend of our brief visit. Really liked the place we stayed. Visited a colony of African penguins and the Cape of Good Hope, beloved of mariners past if not present also.

Next I will say that Phinda Private Game Reserve rocks. They know all about service and the food was excellent and nearly non-stop. The animal viewing was superb. See photos. We stayed at Rock Lodge and enjoyed the services of Sibu, a fantastic guide and intrepid 4WD driver.

After Phinda, the balance of the trip was slightly disappointing. Montusi in the Drakensberg Mtns - okay, just okay, even given we were aware of having been entirely spoiled by Phinda. Good hike though, which we were sorely in need of after 3 days of 4WDing and eating.

Durban: as with Cape Town, don't go out alone but here it was don't do it even in the daytime. Too bad, because it has a big harbour that might have been a good running destination - we saw what we could at dinner by the water one night. Taxis to dinner and back if we went out.

The Hilton: well, it was close to the convention centre. First room they gave us was on the 7th floor but twin beds. We said no, and ended up on the 3rd floor with the view of the car park. Internet was wired and barely usable, and expensive. Charged for the telephone support call. This is a business hotel!! Restaurant: plenty of waitstaff (they call them "waitrons" there) but a struggle to get anyone's attention beyond seating you. Lots of "yes sirs" and inquiries about your wishes and then when you tell them, "right away sir" and they disappear for 20 minutes. The Veneer of Service, I have christened it. In contrast to Oz where there is no service to speak of and thus you neither expect it nor have to tip for it, in SA they make it look like they offer service when really they don't, and they still expect the tip. Our room cleaner left dirty drinking glasses on the sideboard for two days until I happened to be there when she arrived and pointed it out to her. She seemed surprised that it mattered. "Fitness centre" had broken equipment and not enough space for it.

ICM: quite an experience to be there with midwives from all over the world. Must say getting to the food tables in the exhibit hall was even harder with this crowd than at ACNM. They practically knocked you over to get there and if your pre-prandial session ran a bit late, forget it; you might just as well wait a half-hour or so and try again after the feeding frenzy died down a bit. I was happy to get my talk over with early on and enjoy the rest of the conference.

Would I go back? To Cape Town, big maybe. To Phinda, maybe after I've seen some of the places on my list that I haven't been to at all yet. To ICM? I could see doing that. Prague 2014 sounds good...

19 May 2011

The Aussie alphabet: I is for indigenous

Does any country get indigenous right? We know what happened in the young United States, where treaty after treaty was broken by the European invaders. Later, Native American children were removed from their families and sent to White schools, and the legacy of alcoholism, substance abuse, poor perinatal outcomes, chronic disease and premature death, not to mention poverty and hopelessness, is passed on from one generation to the next.

And here in Oz? Same story. Aboriginal Australians have all the same problems. Successive governments seem to either ignore them (Liberal-National) and hope they'll just go away, or make a lot of noise about doing something about them without, in the end, making much of a difference (Labor).

12 March 2011

My guitar god bucket list

I have a short list of really really amazing rock guitarists I want to see perform live, some of whom I have already seen, and some yet to come. Here's the current list (as much as I can remember at the moment) in no particular order.

Eric Clapton (seen)
Jeff Beck (seen)
Jerry Garcia (seen several times)
Carlos Santana (seeing him 24 March 2011!!)
Mark Knopfler (yet to be scheduled)
Jorma Kaukonen (yet to be scheduled)