Sunday, February 19, 2012

All over the place

I'm sorry to be so late posting this week. This isn't the only thing I've run late with, or not done at all. I can't blame being ill - I'm definitely better now, thank goodness. But the combination of the trip to China followed by the illness has somehow completely upset my daily life.

It took me a long time last year to get back some sort of equilibrium and come to terms with living alone on a day-to-day basis. I thought I'd managed it pretty well, really. But it depended on a range of routines, including cooking for myself and for friends, and doing some work, and going out.

While I was ill, all of this fell apart, and now I'm having trouble putting my life back together again. I know this sounds really feeble, especially considering that we're just coming up to the anniversary of the February earthquake which devastated so many people's lives in Christchurch. (The film When A City Falls is on TV3 this week - Wednesday at 7.30.) But it somehow feels as if I've slipped back quite a long way. I've gone back to having flashbacks of the last few days of Harvey's life, and I have to try hard to realise what I'm doing and consciously stop and think about something else. It all just reinforces the difficult but essential knowledge that none of this is straightforward, and it really is two, three, many steps forward and then several steps back.

Friday, February 10, 2012

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Appalling how your world narrows down when you're ill. I had a relapse this week (very common with campylobacter, apparently) and had to go back onto antibiotics. I felt as if I'd gone almost back to square one, two weeks ago. But they seem to be working really well, thank goodness. You may not want to know this, but today is the first day I've been to the loo just the once.

With any luck, it won't be too long before I can start going out again properly, and eating something beyond yoghurt, applesauce, broth, bananas, jelly, dry toast, rice, boiled eggs and occasional bits of fish. (Instead of nice food made by me, there are nostalgic pictures of Chinese food over on Something Else to  Eat.) Fortunately I've had some urgent editing work to keep me occupied, and reviews to write, and kind friends have come to visit when I've been up to it.

 They do understand that despite the notoriously nasty nature of this infection and the remarkably ferocious way the usually reticent Ministry of Health portrays it in their helpful leaflet, they won't catch it just by being near me.

But I really am getting pretty bored with it all the same. When I think how long Harvey had to put up with feeling grotty and feeble and not being able to do anything physically or even enjoy his food much, I wish I'd told him more clearly how brave and determined and admirable he was.

Anyway, let's hope that my hero Erithromycin has done for this particular evil creature this time, and (with apologies to Lewis Carroll) set the poor beleaguered Tumtum tree to rights.

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
She chortled in her joy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Women of Xi'an

The terracotta warriors (220BC) were, of course, amazing and I will be happily dragging friends through my photos for weeks to come. But in the huge and wonderful Shaanxi Provincial Museum next day, I found the first image I'd seen of a woman, dating back to the beginning of the AD era.

I know she doesn't look like a woman, but that was how they wore their hair then. She's probably a servant, or maybe a concubine, because of course she came out of a tomb. (The warriors didn't - they were guarding a tomb some distance away.)

Next came the beautiful Tang ladies (618-901 AD). I hadn't realised Tang was so early.

(Throughout my trip I kept asking Jonathan "What dynasty is this?" "Han, Mum" he'd say kindly. "Yes, but when was that exactly?" He was very patient.)

Here's a lovely one with a baby, and one on a horse, looking like a medieval demoiselle, and a close-up of another with a magnificent hairdo.

This wonderfully elegant one was labelled "Female in male clothing" - certainly the hairstyle is male. But Jonathan wondered if she might in fact be a eunuch.

And here are some more servants. The very thin one with a book is later than Tang, I think - Yuan maybe? (Sorry, Jonathan - I should have written it down.)

The two with a teapot and a cup are much humbler folk-art. Their companions behind them are country horseposts, but these two stood at the gates of a small estate.

We found them in the misty grounds of the Small Goose Pagoda. Then we went off for some lunch and our own pot of delicate green tea. Only we changed our minds and splashed out on a rare, expensive cup of coffee instead.