Thursday, 28 October 2010

Bucket List - reversed (5) (final part)

21.  I subjected myself willingly to surgical intervention to have a gastric band laparoscopically fitted, to enable me to lose weight after 35 years of being unable to do it for myself – and at great personal expense.  I knew there were risks, in fact it was explained to me in pretty lurid detail - but I had got to a stage where I felt I had nothing more to lose, and quite frankly, I didn’t care.  I didn’t want to carry on the way I was, so a fear of death was meaningless.  I think this fatalism, this willingness to gamble my life away because there was nothing left, was what made it possible – some years earlier this mindset would have been totally alien to me. 

And though I am probably the slowest weight-losing bandit in history, it has been worth every penny.  It is giving me back the peace of mind about my body I thought I had lost forever – though I’m not quite there yet with my self-image. 

When I’m sick, nauseous and wracked with discomfort, I rejoice:  my band is telling me firmly that I will not eat any more – and I’m grateful.  Each time (it happens less and less often these days) John gets very worried when he witnesses the process, and I make my (very) well-worn joke:  I paid a lot of money to feel this uncomfortable…

22.  I cook well with whatever ingredients are available, though with a lapband I’m less willing these days than I used to be.

23.  I’ve travelled to various countries and enjoyed every one – Canada, United States, Guatemala, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, 25 Greek Islands, most European countries, Russia when it was the Soviet Union, and the exquisite Maldives.  Except for the latter, travels to these countries were undertaken sadly before I became interested in photography.  Here are some Maldives pics -

From travel I have learned two important lessons – firstly that you come to appreciate your home country infinitely better when you leave it (for however short a time) and then return; secondly that we all should speak as many languages as we can, and certainly at least more than one, for there lies the resolution to most conflicts.   

24.  The United Kingdom’s countryside is among the most stunning in the world, it’s difficult to pick out the best I’ve seen which I will never forget, but I would probably settle for the Gower and the valleys in Brecon, Loch Lomond, the County Antrim coast, and almost anywhere in Dorset and Devon, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.  Then there are the ancient buildings so redolent of its history – from the elegance of Salisbury Cathedral to the cosiness of Anne Hathaway’s thatched cottage in Shottery and back to the sober magnificence of the Houses of Parliament – it all tells you that the beauty you see has evolved over many hundreds of years of people tramping over its ground and occasionally looking up and creating beautiful architecture, or standing back and planting extraordinary landscapes.  I feel privileged to be living near to all these wonders.

Talybont, Wales

St Fagans, near Cardiff

St Fagans Tunnel of Trees, near Cardiff

Markle, south east Scotland

25.  I understand Argentina’s failings and why it is sometimes negatively perceived from abroad (though certainly not from a touristic point of view – it’s one of the best kept secrets), but love its strengths and its beauty.  It has taken me till middle age to respect its history, realise how much I love it and that I’ve always felt proud to be Argentine.  It faces uncertain times ahead, with the death this week of the president's husband, who was himself president of Argentina during this decade, and was perceived to be the power behind the throne.

I am lucky to have seen the best the country has to offer, in many cases when it was still unpolluted and unspoiled – Cumbrecita, Sierra Grande, Sierra Chica...

...Valles Calchaquíes...

Valles Calchaquíes, Salta
... Tafí...
Tafí del Valle, Tucumán

...Bariloche, the Andean foothills, Tronador, Mendoza, San Juan.  Patagonia stands by itself, a land of wind and mystery, of pioneers who struggled to survive, of adventurers and larger than life personalities, a punishing climate capable of such beauty that you can only stand and stare.

26.  To have been given the opportunity to develop some skill with photography and get so much enjoyment out of it.  What makes it so special for me is that with concentration and effort (and an awful lot of pictures…), I can very occasionally produce an image which is timeless:  a view which conveys its atmosphere, or a candid portrait which conveys their feelings at that moment.  The greatest compliment would be if I took a picture of you that prompted you to say ‘you don’t seem to have made me look any slimmer/prettier/younger, but you’ve captured how I was feeling that day, and for that reason I like it’.

27.  The astonishing concept of the internet, communication by e-mail and the wonderful (and sometimes shockingly self-indulgent) means of self-expression that are weblogs. My two blogs allow me to combine writing with photography, and make so many friends.  The support I receive from other bloggers has enabled me to discuss openly the difficulties I face, and I no longer mind if my words are read by people who know me.  I keep the faith with other bloggers in recognition of their faith in me, and I’m more grateful than I could ever express in words.  I’m constantly amazed by how we help each other, and how much we need the support.

28.  I taught myself to write backwards and ambidextrously.  Quite useless, but fun.  Under this same category, learning and keeping up my shorthand is one of the most useful practical things I have learned, and not necessarily for work.

29.  My two cats, which came into my life in 2001 and changed it forever. 



30.  My education.  Being bilingual without the effort – I grew up that way.  Staying bilingual is another matter, I work hard at that and still rarely feel the same degree of fluency in both languages.  I'm so glad I also learned a few practical skills - to ride horses and bicycles, to drive a car, to swim - and guess what, I can whistle too!  (Sadly not the wonderful piercing whistle achieved by sticking two little fingers in one's mouth - I never quite got the hang of that).

I owe to my parents the excellent education I received in Argentina and my university education in England, and I recognise with loving gratitude the moral compass they provided.


Photo Finish -
from Lonicera's non-digital archive

November - season of Guy Fawkes, bonfires and fireworks

(This is a stuffed guy or doll, in case you were worried!)



Amanda Kiska said...

Love this post!

The photos are beautiful (as always) and I appreciate your experience of the lap-band. Thanks for sharing!

BTW I was not trying to suggest that I like hunting on my blog today. I actually abhor it and would never do it myself. But I do respect that hunters do what most people do not - they are not shielded from the process of ending the life of an animal and preparing its body as food. I think if the average person had to kill their own food and dress it, they would probably become vegetarian because it isn't an easy thing to do. But it is easy to go to the grocery store and buy a sanitized package of ground beef without giving any thought to the creature that it used to be.

arshad said...

Hi its really very nice blog,interesting information..Mobiles

Lonicera said...

Thanks Amanda - no I know you weren't, that was me trying to take it one step further without inviting resentment from other Americans who feel strongly about this 'right to bear arms' thing, which in my own personal opinion is way, way out of date and should be dumped in the same bin as the right to have petrol guzzling cars which pollute the planet.

In fact, hunting anything makes me feel ill, as does cruelty to animals, thoughtless and otherwise. BUT.... you put your money where your mouth is and are vegetarian, and I'm not.

I thoroughly agree with everything you say.

Joyful said...

I so enjoy reading your reverse bucket list. You've led such a wonderfully interesting life, struggles and all ;-) I hear you when you say you are slowly losing weight but I'm sure you appreciate that in this case, it is better to go backwards on the number scale, albeit, slowly, rather than forwards. You are brave and courageous and I see you taking the steps to improve life where you feel you need to. Big hugs.

Zanna said...

Caroline - yet another fabulous and stimulating post - I find it difficult to articulate just how much I've enjoyed this series. And as for your photographs - you are my inspiration. My first husband was (and still is) a very very keen photographer but he always seemed to be interested in the technical side which never interested me. What you've done for me is made me look at the composition of a photograph and try and look at what I'm seeing in terms of whether it would/could be a good or interesting photo. My camera is only a basic and currently I've no wish for anything flasher - just really enjoying the thinking right now. So thank you lovely lady. Zxx

Lonicera said...

Thank you both for your lovely comments.You're right of course Joyful - that as long as the numbers go down, it's good. I don't feel very brave though...

Zanna - I'm so delighted that my pictures strike a chord with you! And yes, the best shots are often the ones you think about before you even take the camera out of its case, or when you check where the light is coming from.

I'm glad too that you've enjoyed my very self-indulgent wander down memory lane - I've been thinking today that I mustn't let posts be too self-centred, because it'll get boring... but the thing is I'm feeling my way with my enjoyment of writing, and I'm doing what you're always told to do - to stick to what you know. In fact I'm starting to repeat myself in my posts now, so I'll have to be more selective.

Thank you both, and Amanda once again. (And I thank Arshad, though I suspect he's trying to sell me mobiles...)

Pame Recetas said...

Great post! Tu país siempre será GRANDE y maravilloso. Totalmente de acuerdo en lo de aprender idiomas para entenderse con la gente y solucionar problemas. Las fotos son simplemente increíbles, adoré los lupinos y el mar de las Maldivas, no hay palabras.

Y finalmente, felicitaciones por esa operación, una sobrina se operó ayer y estoy feliz por ella también, sé que eso le cambia la vida a cualquiera. Yo hice el camino largo y difícil de la dieta, y entiendo perfectamente a quienes no pueden hacerlo, es un sufrimiento permanente. Un abrazote con muchos ánimos y buena suerte en esta nueva etapa

Lonicera said...

Gracias Pamela! Qué lindas palabras. Y que te hayan gustado las fotos también - mi gran ambición (que no sé si se realizará, pero bueno) es de viajar - en compañía - por la Argentina y Chile durante algunos meses, de norte a sur, despacito y con calma, y si me gusta mucho algún lugar, quedarme más tiempo... y sacar millones de fotos. Es el bucket list de todos los bucket lists! De paso sea dicho que las fotos de tu blog me inspiran, y me acrecientan las ganas de viajar...

Por favor contame de vez en cuando cómo le va a tu sobrina, realmente me interesaría saber. Por qué no la alentás a que escriba un blog???


Pame Recetas said...

Dear Caroline! Tienes que hacer ese viaje, por lo que cuentas ya has recorrido bastante del lado argentino. No te defraudará la vertiente oriental de la Patagonia. Cuando planees el viaje no dejes de contarme por si precisas más datos.

Le diré a mi sobrina lo del blog, ella tien FB, pero no sé si se animará, creo que es super bueno acompañarse de otras personas que han vivido la misma experiencia.

Te sigo leyendo, besitos

Vagabonde said...

30 I really enjoy reading your reversed bucket list. You have accomplished quite a lot. Your photos are stunning. I always wished to go to Argentina. My mother, before she knew my father, had a beau who immigrated to Argentina. He wanted her to go with him but she just could not leave Paris, so I had told her I would someday go there for her. I guess I should do it soon (but she won't know since she has passed away.) Maybe next year in the Fall, as October or November would be a good time then? I will take me a long time to get all the planning done. I speak Italian, but no Spanish (of course I am fluent in French.)

Lonicera said...

Funny that - I don't feel I've accomplished much, just that I changed hemispheres after I left school...

As you rightly say, Argentina is (for me) at its best in spring. September, October, November - If you haven't seen the jacarandas in bloom in Buenos Aires you ain't lived! Patagonia is still a bit cold in September, particularly the Andean side. There's an enormous admiration of everything French, and you'd probably manage very well speaking French. Italian is even better, because most of us are descended from Italians, immigration in the late 19th early 20th century was massive. There are loads of words which were borrowed from the Italian - as I found when I went to Spain and had to learn the vocabulary of food all over again.

Your dollars would be very much in demand - although it's safer to take travellers cheques, it's absolutely useless outside Buenos Aires, and the only credit cards one can use (again, outside BA) are those obtained by opening up a bank account locally. ...I know, you'd think they would WANT you to spend money, but it can get very complicated. Dollars in cash are accepted absolutely everywhere.

Sorry, I'm rambling again. Let me know if there's any specific information you need.


Sandy said...

Just to let you know I've been skimming your last few posts but need to make time to read em all. Love the pics of the cats. Well you look great too. I can only read posts at work and they don't display the pictures as they have blocked a lot of content so I miss so much. I'll be back.

Lonicera said...

No problem Sandy - I really sympathise. The urological institute I work for has now been taken over by the National Health Service, so it's just a matter of time before we're stuck with their old fashioned computers and their myriad of rules, and barred sites, so same will happen to me in due course. Why shouldn't we do what we like in our lunch hour if its uncontroversial??

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