ART/HEALTH & WELLBEING: Home Alone, Bed- & Book-bound

A fabulous book.

Today I’m mostly confined to bed. By my own decree. Teresa’s at work. And I am on Easter break. Although it may be a bigger hiatus? That’s partly why I’m in bed!

I woke when Teresa got up, at 5.30am (mad!). But most of the time between about 9am and 3pm I’ve been in a 50/50 mix of resting/dozing, and outright sleeping. Snooker, with Kieran Wilson thrashing Ali Carter, on the Tour Championship, is helping on all fronts with rest and sleep!

An ornery mule, with an artist’s soul.

But around 2pm, after a second long chat with the alphabet soup brigade (the bouillabaisse of acronyms for mental-health organisations), I felt I needed an injection of culture and inspiration. So I hoyked a few art books off the shelves.

Angst meets beauty, in mixed media on canvas.

Having resumed a long derelict interest in making art, I thought I’d also resume the act of feeding on the soul food that art can be. Hence getting these tomes offa the shelves. Turner and The Sea, Guston, and de Kooning. Endless hours of fun and nourishment!

Not so eyebrow, n’est ce pas!?

And to keep my furrowed brows at the correct elevation, something a bit ‘Felix’ lighter!

No-brow? Love the Tintin style cover!

And of course, Viz. Thanks to the Viz Team I nearly died laughing last night.

FAMiLY: Chez Gimeno-Palmer, Again

Teresa and Sofi cooking together.

Looking after Hannah’s daughters, my nieces, Ali and Sofi, is a regular and very welcome routine that we have going on at present. It may not last long, as I know Hannah needs to change her work situation. So we’re enjoying it whilst it lasts.

Ali’s a great drum student.

I’m lending Ali a drum kit. It’s an old Premier, in pretty poor nick. it used to be my busking kit, when I did that, in days of yore! I think I need to upgrade the cymbals I’m loaning, as the ones on this kit are awful!

It’s nice teaching Ali. She’s a great kid, and a good drum student. Both Ali and Sofi are musical. Ali favours guitar and drums; Sofi, clarinet, piano, and now sax as well!

Quality time with the utterly adorable Lobster.

It’s pleasant to get out of our own environment. And it’s not too demanding. In fact it’s fun. I slept superbly last night, as well. Which is, at present, rather unusual.

We do breakfast lunch and dinner for everyone. Or rather Teresa does. I help out a bit sometimes (I even cooked a whole meal on the first visit!). But it’s mostly my terrific mrs.

This is typical scene, in Northstowe.

Today I’ve been tinkering with a guitar. I used to do that quite a lot. But I’ve lost touch with ye olde axe in the last year or two. So much so, it’s initially frustrating, discovering how much I’ve forgotten!

But it comes back relatively quickly. Not that I’m great, on guitar. I was pretty competent at one point. But that was when I played daily, which I haven’t done now for aeons. Well, whatever, as folk say nowadays. I’d just like to get back into it a bit, and hopefully enjoy doing so!


HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: Relaxation Therapies

Chester visited me in bed just now.

If I could afford it, which of course I can’t, I’d have a thorough massage once a week. Particularly the back, and especially the lower (cervical?) area, and the neck and shoulders. Classic stress loci.

But whilst I can occasionally persuade Teresa to give me a few minutes of back massage, in the main I’m reliant on other stuff for relaxation. Self-medicating with booze works, for sure. But isn’t the healthiest way.

The results are immediately tangible.

Chester, our delightful and, of late, not so wee moggie, can be a real blessing. Today, like yesterday, I plan to spend as much time as poss’ resting in bed. And about 20 minutes ago he popped in, from one of his regular jaunts outside. The little darling came straight up to me and went straight into face rubbing. Which I adore.

Trump watching Higgins at work.

Another almost cast iron sure fire way I’ve found to relax is watching (good) snooker. For some reason it has to be players I find engaging, playing very well. Anything less, and it doesn’t work. Todays snooker menu consists of the gargantuan feast that is Trump vs. Higgins, 2019 World Championship.

Over eight hours of two of the greatest playing superbly. Although John Higgins is undoubtedly brilliant, he’s not one of the players I’m drawn to. For some reason (my artistic aesthetic side?) I like guys like Trump, O’Sullivan, Selby, etc. They play superbly, and look great doing it. Higgins looks like an accountant or a bank clerk!

Trump in killer shark mode, nailed eight frames in a row!

Trump played so phenomenally well in this match, particularly one session – which Steve Davis aptly described as ‘brutal’, and ‘controlled annihilation’! – that it really was one of the best snooker finals one could hope to watch.

And, as Stephen Hendry commented, these longer matches bring something the shorter formats just can’t deliver. Epic! And yet also soothing…

MiSC: Life & Art, Poetry & Depression

Black eyed dog he called at my door
The black eyed dog he called for more
A black eyed dog he knew my name
A black eyed dog he knew my name
A black eyed dog
A black eyed dog
I'm growing old and I wanna go home, I'm growing old and I dont wanna know
I'm growing old and I wanna go home
Black eyed dog he called at my door
The black eyed dog he called for more

Never been a dog person. Much prefer cats! But a little yappy terrier called Insomnia is barking and biting at my heels again. Put the little fucker down, I say.

And in the hallway, in the shadows, his darker more vulpine cousin can be heard, panting and drooling, occasionally pacing the few meagre feet of corridor. Depression is that mutt’s name. I can smell his stink from here.

I’m not listening to it literally. But the words and melodies of Drake’s ‘Black Eyed Dog’ are circling like carrion in my spent and careworn brain.

I'm growing old and I wanna go home, I'm growing old and I dont wanna know

Can I get an a-men? Too right! Ah-bleedin’-men! Can I get a hallelujah? You must be fucking joking! Tired of scrabbling in the dirt and dust in the peripheral shadows. Stop the ride, I’m sick and dizzy, and I want to get off.

MiSC: Health

Just now… those eyes!

I’m not a big fan of selfie culture. But that said, sometimes it can have a value for me. In this post I’m musing on this latest bout of ill health I’m currently undergoing. The pic above was taken just now, still in bed, at about 6.45am.

Yesterday, feeling somewhat better.

The next pic in this series is me on the lounge couch yesterday, feeling substantially better. I think it shows! And the latest pic, at the top, is therefore a bit depressing; looks like I’ve been crying all night! I haven’t. But I have had a rough night of neck pain and extreme headaches, in addition to the Strep A throat.

This was Saturday night, in bed at Hannah’s.

And the third pic, the furthest back in time of the three? That reflects my annoyance, more than the physical toll illness is having. Whereas the image right at the top captures both, to my mind. Sometimes when you’re unwell you hit a plateaux of being sick of being sick. I’m there!

During the first three days of this throat infection I went from ‘business as usual’ on the Friday, which I’m assuming is the day I caught it, whilst teaching in two primary schools, to a 50/50 mix: bed rest most of the time, but still doing Amazon Flex delivery shifts (Saturday and Sunday), to more or less complete bed rest, yesterday and today (Monday and Tuesday).

Yesterday I had a blood test at the doc’s in the morning, and I cooked dinner in the evening. But outside of those two things, I was mostly in bed, sleeping or reading.

This could be very useful!

Today I ought to be working on a Grade 7 drum piece I’m doing with a pupil (Tower of Power’s terrific ‘What Is Hip’). And I’d also ideally like to do a shift for Amazon, as I really need the income! But from a health and well-being perspective I probably ought to be having complete rest. Hmmm!?

HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: Gaaah! Insomnia strikes again…

I’m typing this at roughly 2.45 a.m. I think I’ve dozed for about 30 minutes, perhaps? Other than that, I’ve been wide awake all night.

In some ways I don’t mind. What I mean by that is that I’m not in a highly agitated state. But as I know that there will be ‘payback’, there is a dull and muted sense of dread.

And, ironically, my worst nights are often those that precede my most demanding days. So it’s Tuesday night, and I need to be sleeping properly, as Wednesdays are my busiest teaching day.

I feel relatively okay right now. Like I ought to feel during the middle of an active day. But how am I going to feel midway through teaching?

Teresa, meanwhile, sleeps like a champ. Just as she always does. She’s a gold medalist ninja snoozer, whilst I’m an F-grade dunce, sleep wise!

It’s all particularly galling, in a way, as I’ve only recently read Walker’s excellent Why We Sleep, so I’m particularly aware of the need to sleep properly. Hey ho! It is what it is…

MiSC: Sleep, Dreams, Rain/Thunder… Absent Cats!?

Where’s our little darkling, Chester?

It’s 4.42am whenI start typing this. Just awakened from crazy kaleidoscopic maelstrom of dreams! Votz it all abite, Ulfric!?

Some of the dream stuff is simple and clear: wanting family – parents specifically – to come to one’s aid in difficult times. But the ‘nuclear family’ as it once was went up in a toxic mushroom cloud decades ago. And the radioactive fallout is still blighting life!

Anyway, now that conscious modes have shifted, it’s a quick trip doon the wooden hill, and across the plane of Liv Ingroom, to pee, and to wonder where Chester, our cat is. Hope he’s ok?

After weeks of drought and many days of crazy heatwave, the weather app – and various intrusive newsfeeds – are warning of heavy rain, thunder, and poss’ flash floods. With the ground baked solid, rain water might just run off… crazy times!

Note the baked dry ‘grass’ (!?) path.

I wonder if, re the precipitation, would it be wise, and a potential contraceptive precaution, or solution, to take a fork to the garden?

Teresa wants us to get Chester a neck tag. And it might be wise (if that horse hasn’t already bolted?). Has he also got fleas? Found a solitary flea yesterday, in the home.

Crazy dreams earlier! Fading fast. Got the fans back on. Need them on almost constantly! It’s still soo goddamn hot, close and muggy!

This weird, weird part of the night biz’, puts me in mind to read the recently acquired Why We Sleep (or, sometimes more to the point, why we don’t sleep!). Must read!

Must start reading this!

Teresa’s back to work today. And she’s going to have to travel by bus, as she can’t afford the train indeed, despite me being stony broke, I’ve had to loan her money for travel (a normal monthly occurrence!). That means more time on pubic transport.

We really ought to nationalise so much of our infrastructure; transport, utilities. Capitalism just ain’t working! Except for the billionaires.

Teresa’s doing like I did… off for a middle of the night pee! She just got back into bed, and… Boom!!! Her alarm just went! It’s now 5.10 am. That’s a bit bloody early!!!

HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: Caffeine & Sleep

Watching a video on YouTube, with Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Matthew Walker about caffeine and it’s effects on sleep.

Caffeine is, as they discuss, a psychoactive drug, and a stimulant. According to Walker caffeine is the second highest traded commodity after oil! I’ve heard it said before that coffee is the drug of capitalism/consumerism. If Walker’s claim is true, nothing could better illustrate the link between this drug and our self-medicating slave-driver culture.

‘Caffeine is a sleep disruptor, there’s no question about that,’ says Chatterjee. Two answers these guys give are de-caff, or, better still, no coffee, or caffeine – tea, inc. green tea, also contains caffeine – after midday. The third and more radical option is to go tee-total, and simply cut caffeine out altogether.

Just ordered a copy of this.

According to the very little skimming of Google I’ve just done on Walker, in light of this YouTube vid and re buying his book, he’s ‘in love’ with sleep. So am I! But I imagine his love for and knowledge about sleep are far healthier than mine!

One reason I love sleep is that it’s an escape from the constant and oppressive demands of waking life. And I suspect that both this basic fact about my love of sleep, not to mention my actual sleep habits themselves, are not as healthy as they ought to be.

Anyway, a very interesting and informative podcast style YouTube video, well worth watching. And I’m looking forward to reading Walker’s book.