Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Random thoughts from my bed *

I am bedridden with the flu. The virus took over my body slowly. I had a cold that wasn't going away. I stuck to my manic routine of school runs, work, searching for more work, housework, and planning and trying to complete my Christmas projects. I kept at it because I thought it would stop the cold from getting worse. I even kept doing my morning runs, even as I felt worse each time.

So here I am, stuck in bed for two days now. I don't even have the energy to prepare my kids' school lunches, let alone take them to school. Fortunately, I have a good friend who has been doing the school run for me. And thank goodness the kids like this week's school dinner menu!

Yesterday I spent most of the morning watching the first four episodes of The Killing II on BBC iPlayer. I haven't seen the first series but I read somewhere that you don't have to have watched it to get into the current series. Whoever said that was right. First episode in, and I was completely hooked. The series is set in Denmark in November--bleak, wet and cold. It has the ingredients of a good old thriller—mysterious murders, suspects who turn out to be innocent, victims who initially seem to have no connection to each other, and the possibility that there are very powerful forces behind the murders. Sarah Lund is the main character—she's not your typical glamorous detective. She's socially awkward and seems distant even from her own son and mother. She's good at putting clues together though. Aside from Sarah, my other favourite characters are the terrifically named Ulrik Strange and Thomas Buch. Strange is Sarah's colleague who is first wary of her but seems to have developed an affection for her. Buch is the justice minister, quick, witty, and earnest and I just love how
he and his undersecretary and assistant are so efficient at their jobs.

Anyway, I'm hoping Santa will drop the first series box set in my Christmas stocking because you know, nothing beats watching a dark crime series on Christmas Day.

Today I've been reading Marya Hornbacher's Madness: A Bipolar Life, a terrific account of her descent into madness and how she emerged from it. Most people would probably know the author from her best-selling memoir Wasted which delved into her eating disorder that almost killed her. A lot of Wasted readers probably concluded that having survived anorexia and bulimia, she had gone on to live a pretty normal life. As it turned out, things got a lot worse for her even after the success of her first book. She was diagnosed as manic depressive but unable to fully comprehend and accept her illness (and the fact that it is a permanent fixture in her life), she turned alcoholic. The book is beautifully written, but, as was my experience with Wasted, I've had to stop reading once in a while. Marya draws you into her world that you start getting worried when you get to a part in the book where she's showing symptoms of another manic episode. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion; you experience a mixture of fascination, revulsion and dread, and sometimes it all gets too painful and you just have to look away.

I also had a visit today from my friend RG and her mum, bearing a huge bowl of arroz caldo for me. I was really touched that they cared enough to give me some nourishing food and what made it extra special is that it's something my mother would cook for me whenever I had the flu when I lived at home. This lovely hot rice soup with its delicious mixture of ginger and garlic flavours is perfect for those days when you're down with a cold or just plain down in the dumps.

I was so happy with the arroz caldo I chose to ignore that it has chicken. If you'd like to try making arroz caldo yourself, check out this recipe from Panlasang Pinoy.



* The random thoughts are not coming from my bed, of course. I may be ill, but I'm not ill enough to think that the bed is capable of generating its own thoughts.

Friday, 4 November 2011

All hallowed out


Ah, the joys of Halloween falling on a schoolday. I decided to take the kids trick-or-treating early on account of a certain little girl who was still recovering from gastric flu. It was quite a mad dash after the school run to get them fed, dressed and made up before 5 p.m. We did do it though and were out the door just before 5, so hurrah!


This was my first venture into trick-or-treating and didn't quite know what to expect.The kids used to go with their childminder and in recent years had been content with handing out sweets instead. As it turned out, I didn't need to do much apart from helping them spot Halloween decorations on each house that we passed, a sure way of telling whether the people in said house would have sweets on hand.

There were a few areas in our estate that were dead quiet, but there were some that really got into the spirit of Halloween. One man opened his door, yelling and swinging a meat cleaver (a fake one, I'd like to believe) over his head. The kids were scared senseless but absolutely loved it.

All in all, it was tiring but fun. When we got home, the kids happily took their places by the front door, ready to hand out sweets to their fellow trick-or-treaters.


The hubby made himself useful by helping Lucas make his scythe and making this year's Jack o' lantern.


Jack's insides have of course been turned into pumpkin muffins. Yum.