A Blessed Weekend!

So sorry I’ve been quiet again, it’s been a REALLY hard time with the identity theft stuff. Seven nights up way beyond midnight and hours and hours of phone calls and paperwork and stress… we’ve been running on Adrenalin for about 10 days now, and I didn’t waste the energy, using it to unpack 80% of the boxes and do almost all my Christmas sewing. The upside is I’ve done about a months worth of stuff in ten days, the downside is it’s hard to turn it off again. It’s false energy and not good for me, but it was better to use it than allow it to turn into anxiety.

Friday was twelve days in the flat and it was time to leave again. It was just starting to feel like home and I miss it terribly! But we needed to leave for a few weeks for Visa “stuff” and he was off to Israel for two weeks anyway, so I flew alone to the UK. To spend the two weeks collecting and bringing home our Daisy, who I’ll meet and collect tomorrow.

This is me at the airport ready to go, with my luggage… one huge (but very light) bag filled with the packaging and cardboard and bubble wrap that I saved from unpacking our fridge in the move! This will be used to wrap Daisy to safely bring her home 😊

But in the meantime, through my search for Daisy, a fabulous young lady called Natalie found me. She not only has EDS herself, but she also runs her local EDS support group, and works for EDS-UK, and… she and her husband also ride a Hase Pino! She also used it to strengthen her body and it’s so encouraging to see how much it’s done for her, and to validate this investment in my health.

They’ve lovingly taken me in, been the most amazing hosts, and it’s been two days of wonderful English life, from the local Christmas market this morning to a place at the table of her wonderful family …and roast lamb dinner (one of my most favourite meals!).

Yesterday I had the privilege of joining her EDS support group and it was amazing in ways it’s hard to explain, …sitting in a room with a dozen others with EDS, who talk about so many things I’ve lived my whole life with, and no one has to explain anything! Good, smart, normal people in agony, sharing their stories of life, diagnoses, pain, problems, suffering, thriving, and how we all deal with a world who judges and ignores us (for the most part). Lots of healthy laughter too.

It’s also very cold here, especially after Malta! But it’s manageable after Canada, and I’ve loved being a part of all these lives… including dogs and chickens and ducks and markets, and I’m super proud of myself for sticking to my new eating plan … especially hard when it’s coming into Christmas!

(Though Tescos are coveting all their bases and Easter Eggs are already out! Right next to the Christmas mince pies!):

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Identity Theft

Identity theft is real. You haven’t heard from us in a while because despite the enormous efforts we go to, to protect ourselves from this evil in the world, late last week we became the victims of identity fraud. Someone, or an organised group of someone’s, stole our identities. Not Facebook identities either …. we’re talking about major financial institutions here.

It’s been a difficult weekend and few days with not only sleepless nights (not so much from worry but from being emotionally charged and wired, and from making hours of extremely frustrating phone calls during overseas office hours… i.e. after midnight for us!!), but countless hours of hard, frustrating and boring work.

I’m not going to go into any more details for now because this is an ongoing fraud investigation, but it’s important for me to tell you this as there are loopholes in processes, and evil people constantly searching for both those loop holes and your details.

I feel like I’m forever sharing details about why you should NEVER fill in Facebook (and other) quizzes, and people scoff and say “what’s the harm”. But THIS is the harm. We survived this because we are vigilant about our security and had we not been so “over-careful”, the outcome could well have been very very different.

We could have lost much of what we own, and the fight’s not yet over …. by a long shot. This is going to take months to fix, and we can only pray that we don’t lose anything along the road ahead. In many ways, our lives have been put on hold for the past four days (and nights), and will continue to be to a lesser degree, but for months to come. So please bear with us for a while if we aren’t as attentive as we’d like to be.

There a few things to note about this, as warning to others…

  • There isn’t anything we could have done to avoid this.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we are vigilant (without being paranoid) about keeping passwords secret and highly encrypted.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we read all those boring emails from financial institutions, which showed us (not them) that something was amiss, and we jumped in quickly.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we are vigilant about what we share and engage in.
  • Here are some of the absolute basics on keeping your identity as safe as possible.
    • Understand that everything you share leaves a footprint. Those footprints are gathered and sold… to “honest” advertising companies and crooks alike. Computers collate that information and gather all your details from different places over many years.. decades even. There is a cache of information out there on YOU. You can find it.
      Those “quizzes” you have so much fun with, gather your connections to others, and build your cache. Slowly they work out your school, age, mother’s maiden name and so on. And even if your current security question is not “what’s the name of your first boyfriend?”, in ten years time it might be, and you’ll have forgotten that you answered it somewhere along the line in a game or a conversation. You make yourself a target. You become easy prey… low hanging fruit.
      You might feel “safe” now, but if you share info about who your family are, and your family does the quizzes… well, hopefully you get the picture? You filling out the quiz can cost your family or friend everything they own!

    We’ve been vigilant. Our info caches are all but empty. Yet it didn’t stop the thieves from stealing our identity and passing through some of the major security checks, in big, well known, financial institutions. But they only got so far. Again, this isn’t petty, and it’s not about someone hacking my Facebook account either, or even spamming my friends with false information. This is about gaining access to potentially everything we own.

    PS: please forgive me the next time you do a “quiz” on who you were in another life, what you will look like when you’re old etc, or when you share ANYTHING that says “copy and paste this to your wall…” or “I bet no one will share this!…” etc etc etc… and I am less than kind to you!

    Thermo-Time!

    So, a couple of years ago I was introduced to the theory of Thermomix. I’m not sure they explained it too well, as it made no sense to me …at the same time as sounding too good to be true. My hands can no longer chop veggies, and I’ve always struggled with allergies, as well as a conflict between wanting to eat well but lacking the time and energy and later, physical ability, to make many things from scratch. The Thermomix is supposed to fix all these needs and more. But really???

    Over the last year I’ve come face to face with the actual machine time and again, from people who swear by it, but never seen it in action. Then a couple of weeks ago in Italy we spent the weekend with my cousin and saw it doing it’s thing for the first time. We were sold.

    But it just didn’t feel like a sensible priority right now in the middle of unpacking our home… even though, if ever there was a time for a quick way to produce amazing and healthy meals, this is it. But not a good time to learn something new. So we pushed it to the back burner.

    Then a couple of days ago we stumbled past a stand selling them outside our supermarket and we quickly gave the sales lady our number as we rolled past (supermarket shopping is a wheelchair only experience for me at the moment).

    Today she arrived with our brand new machine and started her demonstration. It was a couple of hours of fun and hilarity, much of it’s at his expense I’m afraid. But he was very good about it I have to say.

    Apart from his pet hates of innocent cushions and pillows, third on the list is empty jars. Who in their right mind packs and moves empty jars right?!?!?! I tried to explain that they’re only empty for moving, and that I use them for all kinds of things. But he wasn’t convinced. This on a day when his pet hates were basically anything that came out of a packing box. Any and all books on Monday were a waste of time and space, clothes particularly useless. On Monday, moving was a massive mistake and he pretty much hated everything we own.

    Thankfully, by Tuesday evening he was in love with our things again, and I, of course, have overdone it trying to set it all up again and prove it. But it’s starting to look like home at last.

    But I digress. Back to today and the glass jars. Firstly, we don’t have a pantry in this lovely little home, so the dry goods have been transferred to many of the jars, and the sideboard has become the pantry. I love it. (Secretly he does too!).

    Then as Christina, our demonstrator, made one dish after the next, she kept asking for glass jars to put the finished products in. We’d make eye contact above her and chuckle to each other as over and again another jar was needed.

    She started off peeling, chopping and storing all our garlic …. in about three minutes! Followed by a lesson (and another jar) for storing parsley.

    Then it was time to make lemonade. Not usually my thing but using whole lemons and hardly any sugar, it was delicious and a good lesson for making cocktails.

    The lemonade was followed by banana and blueberry sorbet, which I’ve decanted into nearly a dozen small containers to pop in the freezer.

    Pizza dough was next and while that rose she made exquisite chickpea and spinach soup. That was ready at the same time as the garlic bread (from half the dough) and we sat down to an incredible lunch not much more than an hour after she arrived. It’s usually an hour, she said, but as our cupboards are almost bare, he had to pop next door to the corner grocers no less than seven times during the process.

    I feel a little miffed that I’ve spent thirty years making food the hard way, … en masse for a big family – plus additions, and now he gets to step in for the fun stuff for the next thirty … but I also look forward to not having to teach him how to cook, and to having food appear for me instead of the other way around. I’m also looking forward to shedding some of these unwanted kilos that have crept on as my mobility has decreased. So there’s not much to complain about really!

    Oh, and did I mention we have a kitchen now???

    PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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    Opening Boxes!

    “Pretend it’s Christmas” they say…

    “It’ll be so wonderful seeing your stuff again after five months!” they say….

    “Blah blah blah…” they say…

    Where do I start? I’ve really and truly tried to be a good girl and to see these boxes through a Christmas filter… but it’s just not working for me.

    Yup, all I can see are boxes 📦 boxes 📦 and more boxes 📦… and each one is a complete surprise as to what’s in it (I guess that’s where the Christmas part is supposed to come in! But that’s where the similarities end).

    Let me pull out some of my favourites:

    1: The dirty bowls and glasses in which I made the packers lunch (five months ago) … crumbs and all… They simply finished eating and wrapped them!

    2: The boxes marked “linen” contained cane baskets and silk flowers… without a single piece of linen. The linen was found in the end, not a single sheet marked on the box, and no more than two items together. It has appeared in dribs and drabs over the last ten days. We’ve had to borrow bedding from Molly to sleep at night.

    3: The silk flowers were removed from their safe vase. The vase was packed in one box, the flowers in another, and the oasis in a third … crushed of course, into sticky green crumbs which now appear everywhere. Did they breed in there?

    The dread of each box, however, has produced some pleasant surprises:

    • Five boxes of lamp shades? I was sure I don’t own that many lamp shades. The first box contained six… the rest each held a single shade. Whew! One becomes so thankful for such pathetically small blessings! I think I’d be thrilled to find a box empty.

    • We are now almost at sea level, and we’ve come from Joburg which is five thousand feet above sea level. Things in bags that were sealed are now vacuum packed! 🤣

    We have a kitchen, we’ve been sleeping in our own bed for two nights now, and it’s starting to feel just a little bit like home 😊

    Oh, and we live on a busy street without much of a view. There isn’t usually a lot of green in Malta which is basically one huge rock. The front balcony is too small to swing a cat, and we need to keep the glass doors shut most of the time. But it turns out that what we can see from the living room, while very cropped, is of one of my favourite trees!

    PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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    Regrouping…

    This year, so far, has very much been about decisions, changes, upheavals, regrouping and so on. None of these decisions were made lightly, and lots of people had things to say about it all, both before and after things happened.

    • “Stay here…”
    • “Go there…”
    • “This (or that) is what you should be doing..”
    • “You’re too young”…
    • “You should’ve made the changes earlier…”
    • “You’ll go mad if you go from a hundred to zero overnight!”
    • “You’re letting me (or us) down…”
    • “Don’t lose momentum…”
    • “Move closer to the children right now…”
    • “You’re mad…”
    • “You’re brave…”

    The list was almost endless. We’ve made waves. Some advice was welcome, but not all of it. All this to say, that we needed to wade (and I really mean wade… as in waist-deep kind of wading) through so much advice, comments, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and so on that came our way. We read a few books, consulted with a handful of experts, and in the end, we whittled it all down to a handful of things:

    1. We need to spend some truly decent time with our children and grandchildren. And not just as a “one-off”.
    2. We also need some time out alone before we make any final, long-term decisions about our future and second-half of our adult lives.
    3. We need this to be somewhere far away from everyone and everything. Just the two of us once again.
    4. We need to make sure we don’t get bored during this season, and therefore both committed to getting the next book out ASAP, and he took on some study and consulting gigs to “keep the brain ticking”.
    5. We expect this to be a learning curve and a challenge on all kinds of levels.

    It turns out we (and those who advised us) were right on all the above except the fourth one. There hasn’t been time for the bookish stuff…. the studies, the work or the publishing. This is a good thing.

    It turns out we’ve been so busy, our lives so over-full, that we actually need a season to fully stop. The only problem is, writing helps me to do that, and with a number of manuscripts on the boil, part of unwinding for me is getting them finished. But I got lost somewhere in the last few months. I listened to some advice that was probably not the best thing for my writing, and now I need to “un-bog” myself and regroup.

    So, the gist of it all is this:

    1. He has postponed his studies for the foreseeable future.
    2. He hasn’t taken on any new consulting work.
    3. The publishing has been put on hold till the new year.
    4. And I’ve taken on some fresh advice and found myself a writing buddy. She and I will work through the manuscripts, she will cast a fresh eye on the bigger picture, and we will work our way back to the path I was on six months ago.

    PS: Part of me is so mad about yet another setback, there’ve been too many. But that’s not a reason to publish a book (or books) that I’m not happy with either. So this is a bitter pill for me, but at the same time it’s rather freeing and I’m looking forward to slowing down another notch and getting back to what I love doing… writing and telling that jolly story!

     

    PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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    Five Pillow Day!

    Two of his pet hates are cushions and pillows.

    Two of my favourite things are cushions and pillows.

    I always thought of them as somewhat decorative but mostly functional. He thinks they’re just stupid.

    Along with the first vague understandings of my health issues came the realisation that pillows and cushions do more than provide comfort for me. They prop me up and support me.

    Then over the next couple of years I worked out that I only need one or two (in each place I sit) but on really bad days, I need up to five.

    Today is one such day. One on the left, another on my right, two behind me, and one between my knees. Nothing is able to hold itself in position and even my left hand rests in a pillow as I alternately type and drink tea with my right. The tea cup is placed in exactly the right position so there’s no twisting. For refills I need to ask for help.

    Yesterday we had a huge chat as we discussed the ins and outs of the unpacking processes and how much better it’s been made by having a slow, staggered help and this little flat to crash at through the process. The old me would’ve sent him off to ride or paddle or work… it’s “easier” to do it on my own. But I’m physically in worse shape than I’ve ever been, and we have no choice. We feel like a pair of naughty children sent to our room, not able to come out without the cooperation of the other.

    Three hours a day (and three hours only), we drive the two minutes down the road to the apartment, park Molly in her garage underground, and together we attack a handful of boxes.

    I can’t do it without him. I can unpack boxes he brings to my chair, and I can direct what goes where and which box to unpack. But he can’t do it without me either. He’s never done it before, it’s completely overwhelming for him and his anxiety skyrockets. And when his anxiety levels are high he doesn’t listen too well. So I have to be patient and kind and gentle and ask (not tell).

    We’re both super happy with the progress and with ourselves and each other. We’re nailing this in more ways than one.

    But as each day moves into the next, I’m becoming more and more exhausted. There was a time that I could unpack a hundred boxes on my own, move the piano into place, and get rid of all the rubbish by the time he got home from work… five days in a row.

    But not any more. Now the three hours are all I can do, and it’s three painfully slow and frustrating hours at that. I can ride a recumbent bicycle for three hours straight, but sitting in a camping chair giving orders and bending over open boxes and opening packages within those boxes is a whole different ball game and the pain sets in quickly, …. followed right behind by the brain fog. Then I can’t string more than a few words together.

    It’s difficult explain. I say door instead of window, left instead of right, clothes instead chair… and more often than not I can’t find the word at all…

    It’s frustrating for both of us. We might need a day off tomorrow? Or maybe even two days?

    Today is day five of the unpack. The kitchen arrived just as we were leaving…

    I’m assuming it’ll be installed over the next few days. If I can’t string more than a few words together and my pain levels are through the roof, then it’s a five pillow day… and time for a rest.

    PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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    The Good News or the Bad News?

    I’ll start with the bad news as it’s simpler.

    We rented an apartment in Malta that wasn’t quite finished (literally just needs kitchen and curtains and insect screens installed) everything else is stunning and brand new and finished). But at least we could store our stuff while went for our six week Molly adventure, and if it wasn’t finished on our return we could cook in Molly but sleep in the apartment.

    The bad news is it’s not ready, which is fine, but the adorable landlords have rented us another gorgeous, furnished apartment, and set us up with food, towels, beds …everything just a few blocks away.

    Which is very kind. But we need to unpack and start getting things sorted ASAP as we have visitors and things we need, and things to unpack, and and and …. so it’s annoying.

    But the good news list grows longer by the day:

    • They won’t let us pay rent on either place.. for the furnished apartment or the one without a kitchen. So we’re saving a few bucks which is a bonus as we still haven’t sold the house back in Joburg.
    • That in turn gives them incentive to get finished, we feel really bad for them, but it’s good knowing that we’re taken care of and it’s in their interest to get things finished soon. So it will happen, and we don’t need to nag them.
    • We are in the ground floor apartment right on the edge of town, so unlike our apartment where Molly will sleep in the basement garage, here we can park her right at our front door. And with a washing machine and dishwasher etc, we have been able to bring everything in, in just a few steps (including my Molly mattress and put it on top of the bed here… not quite the same but pretty good), clean her out, unpack the Sphinx… it’s turned out be such a blessing … sorting out Molly without feeling like we should be unpacking the boxes.

    • I’m not very good at sitting still so if we were surrounded by boxes I’d constantly chip away at them and totally overwork myself very quickly. Instead, each morning we head over, work for three hours, he does all the lifting, I do the sorting and directing (which doesn’t always go well), then we head home for lunch and don’t think about the unpacking again till the next day. An impossible feat if we were right there.
    • Sometimes it’s easier to plan things when you’re one step removed. The serenity of a tidy, well appointed apartment with a fabulous view is a much better place to plan, regroup, restore and refresh, than an overwhelming apartment with boxes to the ceilings! A couple of Netflix binges are helping to do that somewhat, hence the radio silence of the last few days. It’s been great!
    • Part of the move included unpackers. After nearly a dozen international moves I know the drill and I hate it. A swarm of men descend at the crack of dawn and by nightfall, everything you own, including the dust bunnies under your bed in the old house, and the junk drawer (usually now upturned), and all the half bottles of shampoo from five people (now a quarter filled with the rest smeared over the rest of the bathroom contents), are now unpacked. If you don’t know what that looks like, imagine upturning every drawer, box, wardrobe, cupboard, in your entire home and garage and garden shed, onto your floor, beds, stairs, kitchen counter, and even the bath. Believe it or not, there are not enough flat surfaces to hold everything you own. You can’t eat for the laden kitchen and you can’t reach the cupboards to start loading them. You can’t get to your bed under all the linen you didn’t know you owned and the washing machine doesn’t work because the power plug is still from the wrong country so you can’t wash all the shampoo out the towels. You’re hungry, so exhausted you can’t breathe…. and everyone expects you to fix it… right now. But because we don’t have a kitchen, yet we need our stuff, the removal company agreed to spread the load over a few days. I asked for the weekend in between two of them, and the last third only once we have a kitchen. It’s still a zoo, it’s still a third of our belongings spread over half the house (not a bad ratio considering!!), but with the weekend to sort out much of what was unpacked on Friday, we’re getting to do this a little slower. I can’t begin to tell you how much better that is.

    So the non-kitchen is proving to be a bonus. He still thinks that if we’d rented a different apartment, moved to a different country, owned different things, … or we’d simply put a match under it all before we’d left, it wouldn’t be nearly this stressful. In reality, it’s not a patch on all the other moves I’ve done while he’s in the office making all his new friends… Five people’s stuff instead of two, all on my own instead of with his help, no spotless apartment to retire to in the evening, unpacked in one day instead of three, and no one to nag us to find things for school or work the very next morning… this is bliss!

    But it still sucks. Moving sucks. And tomorrow morning (Monday) will be round two of the proper unpackers. Hopefully they’ll find the linen … but that’s a story for tomorrow or the next day!

    PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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