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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Fortisip™ is a nutritional supplement, a palatable, ready-made milkshake style drink made by the company Nutricia, for the dietary management of disease related malnutrition. Fortisip is often useful to reduce the amount of weight loss in people with cancer, helping them build up their strength and withstand the effects of the cancer and its treatment.

That little bottle brings back some bad memories for me. Memories of seeing this end up as my dad's only source of nutrition. Eventually, as his ability to swallow became more and more limited, he ended up taking a supplement via an external pump directly into his stomach as he could manage only water, coke and the odd scotch. Memories of, a few days after his funeral, dumping cartons and cartons of supplements at the local tip, because the NHS won't re-use any medical supplies already issued. His morphine and other drug supplies were turned into the pharmacy.

A couple of days ago, I felt a strong need to go to visit my mum, so I booked a flight out on December 28, returning January 5. Something told me I have to make a visit, something propelled me to book the flights as soon as I thought of it. Then today, her latest medical report arrived and it's worse news than usual. It seems she's only able to eat soup and yoghurt so the consultant has prescribed Fortisip. So, this little bottle appears back in our lives. It must be doubly hard for her as she goes down the road she watched her husband of almost fifty years go down. She's lost her appetite it seems and is rather quickly losing weight. My mum has a neighbour who is a wonderful lady and who cooks regularly for her. She's a personal chef and often takes to the highlands to do weekends at country homes. Through her kindness when she's at home in her little cottage nearby, my mum has been lucky to have had good, nutritionally sound, interesting food. I wonder if she's told her yet that she's not eating what she makes any more.

She's also now not able to get upstairs in the house, in one go. She apparently has to rest mid-way to try to catch her breath. She no longer goes for walks, apparently. Well I know for a fact she hasn't for a long time. But at least she's being more honest with her medical specialists which is, I'm sure, a good thing. She now has three items under 'diagnosis': Added to the Recurrent Lung Cancer and COPD, we now have Smoking Habit. She has told the consultant she smokes a pack a day - I know it's more than that. Against medical advice, she has again refused a chest x-ray because she quite simply doesn't want to know just how bad things are. But I do understand that part of it all. She wants these diseases to take her.

I called my mother yesterday to tell her of my travel plans (before I got the medical report). She was sounding very hoarse and struggling a little for breath. She asked me to go shopping for her to find some jumpers, which is the first time she's asked me to do that. I guess she's not even able to get to the shops now. I order her wine so that leaves just her cigarettes and as she's good friends with a chain smoker, I'm sure she's got that covered via her visits. She mentioned that she'd spoken with my sister who had pointed out that her voice sounds really bad and my mum had basically told her to mind her own business. OK, I thought, scrap the idea of asking too much about her health. When I did ask just in a general sort of so how are you doing, all I got was the usual "Oh I'm fine, just fine."

So it seems my visit is very timely, I hope she'll talk with me honestly about how things are and what she needs done. Already I think she needs her bedroom moved from upstairs to downstairs, to limit the times she has to climb the stairs. If she has to stop midway now, it won't be long until she's unable to manage them at all. I'm hoping the Macmillan nurse has a visit while I'm there so I can speak with her about additional ways to support my mum. Something tells me she may end up in care before her days are done. I know she'd hate that but I hope she understands it may be necessary.

Along with my extreme happiness right now, this is weighing heavily upon me. It won't be an easy visit as there will be some tough conversations. I just hope we can get on with each other. Being in that house is so very hard since my dad passed away.

My love was there for me this morning when I reached out to him after hearing the bad news about my mum's health. He reached right back out to me from so far away and comforted me with his words and his love, and his promise to be beside me every step of the way as I go through what lies ahead. I know he'll always be there for me and I've never had that before in my relationships. I am so blessed to have found this man, and to have had him find me. I hope my mother gets to meet him, to know him.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mine Again

This beautiful, precious, adored dog is going to be with me again soon.

And he won't have to make do with little patches of snow up on Teide once a week in winter (if he's lucky), he'll have heaps and heaps of snow where we're going!! And that boy loves his snow.

It just keeps getting better and better and better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Indonesian Delights (for Ian)

In the absence of being able to string thoughts together right now, unless they include penetration, percentiles and progressions (don't worry I've not gone sex mad, those are comp subjects), I bring you a food post.

Anuja and I decided to drown our stresses in Indonesian food last week and this is what we had:

1. Satay

2. Gado Gado

3. Kare Ayam

4. Beef Rendang
5. Krupuk

...okay okay....LOTS of krupuk. And everything was just so delicious. We really are spoiled for choice here in Hong Kong when it comes to food, there is every cuisine imaginable and all of a very high quality. We HongKongers are serious about our nosh and even a market stall has to come up with the goods, to stay in business.

Just writing this has made me hungry and, having mentioned market stalls, I'm thinking about fish ball noodles with fried fish skin. With a generous dollop of chili sauce in the soup broth. Drooooool.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Love Elephants

An email from my ex-boss today:

Sometimes these "heartwarming" stories are a bit too sappy for me but this one is truly interesting...

In 1986, Mike Mebbe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mike approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Mike worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Mike stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mike never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Mike was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teen-aged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mike and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mike, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mike couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mike summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mike's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Boy Named Sue

In this part of the world, one often comes across some very strange names. Today, I opened a folder to review some résumés that had come in and this name was proudly displayed across the top of the page:

Agape Leung. Yes, you are reading that correctly, her name is 'Agape'.

It reminded me of some names I've seen in the past, such as:

Veggie Choy (particularly amusing to us here as 'choy' is the Cantonese word for 'green vegetables')

Milky Chan (and she proudly wore her name badge declaring 'Milky' directly over her right breast)

Titty Chui
(also on name badge and definitely a case of false advertising) and Titting Lai

Rainy Wong
(oh in keeping with the weather theme, there was also a Rainbow Yip)

Candle Chow

Brainy Wong

Macho Wu

Light Wong

Dermis Choy

Brand Lai

Ice Ma

Sony Ip

.... plus so many more I can't even remember right now.

And many, many years ago, I had on the company recruitment database, a Nigel Growcock. I kid you not. Thank goodness I never had to interview him, I don't think I'd have been able to hold it together.

Care to share any unusual names you've found?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Name Calling is Interesting

A short while ago, I received several juvenile comments on a post I'd made. One of them was this gem:

fiona the adulteress said...

Of course there was no identification, no trackback to who had placed it there. But then again, it's not really the sort of handiwork one would want to own up to, is it?

It did get me thinking, though, about that wonderful word being bandied about in the statement, "whore", the primary definition of which is: "A woman who engages in sexual acts for money, a prostitute". I rather like this statement, too: "However, its definition may be extended loosely to include any sexual act for any type of compensation." Well, that means I'm no whore as I have never, not in this relationship nor any other, bartered sexual activity for a monetary reward or any other remuneration, whether financial or in kind. Not gifts, not flowers, not dinners, not vacations. Perhaps that's one of the reasons I've had so few sexual partners, a fact I'm very comfortable with.

I knew a man, once, who had to buy affection and intimacy from his ex-wife. A new car here, a fur coat (ugh!) there, once even a diamond ring. Now that, to me, is an absolute and utter whore. His wife, yes. A whore, yes. The sad part is, there are quite a few men being taken in by that sort of woman, who think it's normal to maintain a balance sheet of sex for gifts. I was the woman who came after her in his life and nothing could repair his lack of self-esteem. He never managed to understand that sometimes you can just love a person without material reward being involved.

And then there are women and men who use sex as a weapon. Who offer it up then withdraw it because it's a game. Who make the other person want it then say they don't. It's a powerful thing, sex, but it should never become a commodity to be traded. Sex to me always has meaning, it can't just be a 'release' or the equivalent of a workout. It's precious and meaningful and is to be valued. That's not to say I don't enjoy many types of sex, from the loving, gentle, tender style, to the hard, urgent, take-me-now sort of love-making. But only with a man I love.

I've seen comments and posts in blogland where women speak of wanting the gifts, the dinners, the vacations, the attention, before they'll 'put out'. And in more serious instances, there are women who prostitute themselves for the daily necessities, for a myriad of reasons. A woman wrote a comment on a friend's blog a little while back, basically saying that it was the time of month when she had to offer up sex to her husband, in order to keep a roof over her head. I'm not meaning to put anyone down when I speak of this, and I'm not privvy to the circumstances surrounding such statements. Perhaps I'm just lucky that I've never had to make that sort of trade off. Or perhaps I just never would.

But a whore? No, I'm not.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm Back - I Think - For a While - Perhaps

I feel as though I've fallen down a deep, dark, narrow well and have spent the last week-plus scratching at the walls trying to crawl out.

I see a light, a faint glimmer of one, and I hope to hell I don't drop back down away from it again. Nothing to worry about my dear faithful-and-terribly-ignored-lately readers. It's just work. And work. And a bit more work. It's expected at this time of year but, combined with breaking in a new boss and trying to share almost 20 years' of knowledge of the company to her (she wants to know everything) , I've been somewhat worn thin these past few weeks. She's now been with us for five weeks and quite honestly, it feels more like five months!

We're both getting there, beginning to develop a pattern, a flow, an understanding of how to work well together. She has described herself as 'having a party going on in her head all the time' and boy oh boy it's more like a carnival than a party. We flit from one thing to another, we scratch the surface on something and then it's on to the next subject that she's thinking about right then. I feel as though I would benefit from sheep herding skills training.

I haven't been altogether complimentary about her and that's unfair as she's a really, really nice person. Lots of fun and easy going. Oh and very complimentary about what I do for her. I can't fault her on so many things, I just wish that party inside her head would pack it in for a day or two. It makes me wonder why she doesn't feel the need to address that particular 'flaw' as she's quick to identify it.

My problem is that she's disorganised. And she rushes at things. I'm all for forging ahead but it has to be done in a way that is cognisant of consequence. Sometimes that is lacking. There seems to be an issue in prioritising too. And understanding that I have a job to do that isn't about waiting for her to throw something else at me that really doesn't warrant being a priority right at that moment. I've started to notice another issue - she'll start something and then when it gets a bit messy, it finds its way to my in box. Mind you, sometimes that's better, with her in the mix it can be altogether very confusing to work out what's going on.

Change is good. Change brings fresh ideas, new blood, a different way of looking at things. However, it can also bring confusion, chaos and not just a little frustration. I believe she'll learn the way of things in these parts. And also that being at the strategy and policy making level means careful, studied, considered thought. The work we do can't be subject to constant change or whim or fancy. The consequence of an error can cost us dearly in time, money, manpower, resources and even reputation. But I'll soldier on, for a few more months anyway. I bet that when the time comes around for me to leave, she and I will have forged such a great relationship, it will be hard to desert her. But go, I will.

I have a couple of good ideas for posts, it's certainly time I had a post on here that is at least a little thought-provoking. The brain, however, is a little mushy right now and having worked an average of 15 hours each day this week, I just feel like I need some sort of respite from even placing my fingers on a keyboard. Maybe next week.

I've been an atrocious friend to so many who email me and then have to wait up to a week for a reply. I've wandered around your blogs at random as a way of kicking back and giving myself just a little respite during this crushing time. Reading my favourites is like digging into a box of Godiva chocolates - each one is so sumptuous and one or two are never enough.

My love and I are on a four-week countdown today and quite honestly, it's what we both REALLY need. Now would be better than having to wait another four weeks but we can do it. We know the joy which awaits us. I can tell you though, I'll be sitting on that plane flapping my arms to try and get across the Pacific faster.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Just Because It Is So Beautiful

~ Answer - Sarah McLachlan ~

I will be the answer at the end of the line
I will be there for you while you take the time
In the burning of uncertainty I will be your solid ground
I will hold the balance if you can't look down

If it takes my whole life I won't break I won't bend
It'll all be worth it, worth it in the end
Cause I can only tell you what I know
that I need you in my life
When the stars have all gone out
you'll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently into morning
For the night has been unkind
Take me to a place so holy
That I can wash this from my mind
The memory of choosing not to fight

If it takes a whole life I won't break I won't bend
It'll all be worth it, worth it in the end
Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
And when the stars have all burned out
You'll still be burning so bright
Cast me gently into morning
For the night has been unkind

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Catch of the Day

The other day, while exploring the local gourmet supermarket, I came across some absolutely beautiful fresh tuna loin.

That evening I transformed it with a quick searing in a hot frying pan, into my dinner. I timed it to a perfect rareness and accompanied it with rough-mashed cauliflower and cherry tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

It reminded me of when I was living in Tenerife, the fishermen would bring in their catch and there was always a tuna or two. I'd buy a whole one and load up the freezer, plus Lupo loved a fillet or two for his dinner. From sea to dinner plate (or dog bowl) on the same day, there's nothing like it.


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