Settling Dust.

I’ve settled down a bit.

10 days ago was the first day that I found peace with -once again- being able to only do one thing per day. I was “a good little patient” once again. Resigned to spend my day keeping my priorities in check:

  1. safety (check gas, check locks, check where you walk, no multi-tasking)
  2. food (enough, healthy, easily digestable)
  3. hormonal balance (progesteron, cortisol, no stress, managing weird brain chemistry)
  4. everything else

I was plenty busy keeping the first three in check. Anything else (a hobby, a blog post, social meeting, working, keeping the house tidy, being presentable to the rest of the world) only came about if there was time and energy left. There were not many days with either.

But 10 days ago things changed. I had settled. My body had grown accustumed to the new regime and had -hopefully- shed some of the worst heavy metals. Especially the Zinc that brought about Copper detoxification (which looks remarkably like ME or Chronical Fatigue with a big side of PMS)was doing its job.

Which was when I decided to up my dosage of Zinc to speed up the Copper shedding….  The day I did that was awful! I was ridiculously tired, ridiculously wired and totally hormonal. To which no progesteron cream helped. Which is a sign that this was pure brain chemistry running wild. I cried and cried about stupid things and silly things. I was desperate. All the while knowing it must be Copper excess. But knowing something doesn’t make you feel different. Not with chemicals doing pinball in the brain.

In the end all I could do was cry on my husbands shoulder, drink lots of water and go to bed early to leave this day behind me.
Saturday I was still a bit shaky. Sunday I was at peace again.

It is a very tricky process. But I feel lucky that each time it is confirmed: as soon as my body manages to get rid of the waste, I feel good again. I feel very fortunate that my recuperation time has sped up too. One, two days. No longer weeks or months like it was the last few years.

This Methyl-B12, Folinic Acid, Zinc, vit D, Lithium etc. are really working.

Then last week a little miracle happened. I was back in the cabin after a few tiresome days in the city. I drove myself (and the cat) to and from the city which was a victory all by itself. The plan was to rest hard because there was a birthday party I was looking forward too and after that another busy week in the city with a wedding party as its finale.

But something was bugging me: in the fields near me they are planning to build a manure-factory. A big installation that converts all kinds of manure into some usable gas. It’s one of the biggest plants in Europe that they are planning. 50 trucks of manure will come by my house every day, the stuff has to be transferred into the plant, has to be treated. It’s A Big Thing. With lots of noise and odour emission.

The process is in the planning stages. The first stage has been concluded: the permission has already been granted. Now is the final stage where people can object in court and that stage is nearly finished. The last day to file any claim was Wednesday.

I didn’t know they were planning this thing as I don’t follow the news because it stresses my system too much. And none of the neighbours had thought to inform me. It’s a strange dynamic when something like this happened. Everybody feels alone, on their own. And inadequate to battle something this big.

I only found out about the plant the week before. Of course I was stressed by this but I too had resigned to fate, I had chosen to be a supportive neighbour. Farmers would be able to get rid of their manure. It’s a piece of technologie. I could learn to appreciate it. Especially when given no choice.

pic by Nino Satria

That Wednesday I woke up with a dilemma. Today was the last day for an objection to be filed. I have a background in both planning and engineering and I could study the technical and policy reports and see if there was something there to object to. Even though I had never done such it thing. But it would mean a busy day, without the rest. I could get ill. Jeopardy the birthday, the week in the city, the wedding. There was no garantee for succes.

My husband advised me to stay out of it. “Choose your health.” This was the responsible thing to do and my inclination. Although I find it very difficult to let a chance pass I have learned to do so. It only stings until you say the word. Once you’ve made the decision there’s disappointment to deal with but no longer the strain of coulda-shoulda-woulda.

Just to get a little extra confirmation I posted the situation on Ravelry.com where my fellow knitters reside. They know me. They have seen me crawl my way back to better health, they know how fragile it still is.

To my utter surprise they said: “Go for it.” Unanimously. “Don’t hold back, go do your research and file a claim. You are the one that can do this.”

I didn’t do as they said per se but their views did open up the possibility in my head to spend one or two hours on the material. See if something’s there. If there is, proceed. If there is not, rest. (strangely enough I had not thought of this approach before. I was all GO/NO GO)

Anyway, that’s what I did. I ploughed through the county policies. Devoured the technical noise reports. Chewed on the technical odour testings. And nearly choked. There was something verrrrry weird there!

I checked and checked and could not believe it but it was 100% true: the technical research that had facilitated the county to stretch the legal odour limits which was necessary for the plant to be allowed to operate and douche 1km2 with its stench was solely based on ….. four people….. sniffing three odour samples. Resulting in one number (10,9) that was used in all the legal documents and policies as prove that the plant would not smell that bad at all. Research had proven it!

Yes.

Research had indeed proven it.

10,9 was the mean in a range from 2,2 to 22,5. Anything under 5 means people cannot stand the smell and no one should be subjected to it. Let alone to use this number in areas where people live. By taking the mean all those values under 5 had been conveniently disregarded.

4 people. One of them must have had a stuffed nose because there were some weird results in the spread of their findings.

They each sniffed 3 samples. Two smelled terrible, as all four people seemed to agree, even the one person with the stuffed nose. Numbers ran from 2,2 to 8,6. The third sample was odourless so it seemed because it got much higher numbers and that one person even gave it 22,5.

This was the sample that dragged the mean from below 5 up to 10,9 and gave the council and the county a political stick to force this plant upon us with. This was not a sound use of either math or the sniffing results.

I was thrilled! And exhausted. By now it was midday. I had not rested. I still had hours of work to mold this knowledge into a legal document. I took a little lie down. After that I called one of the neighbours whose number I found on a document from the previous stage. He was so friendly! He encouraged me and I found a second wind.

I wrote the paper. It’s not 100% clear, it has spelling mistakes, it has some internet-generation language in it. Frivolity even. I lost valuable time and health trying to find my way through the administrative process (where do I file, how do I file).

In the end I had a few minutes left, no time to proofread anymore, I pressed SEND. I was exhilarated!

I called more neighbours. I emailed the action committee of whose existence I had just learned. I wrote my knitter friends. Called my husband. Everybody was cheering. It was such a rush! I had found a gem, deeply hidden in the technical reports, and now there’s a serious change the judge will revoke the planning permission. Who would have thought that in that little patch of woodland, there was a little engineer that could?

pic Mateusz Stachowski

It took another two hours for my heart to stop pounding and me settling for the night.

The next day I drove myself to the birthdayparty and had a lovely day. I had my priorities for the day all checked: safety, food, balance. One hour into the party I did discover I was wearing my dress inside out but that’s a thing that is firmly placed in priority bullet number four: everything else. My friends didn’t mind. Neither should I. (of course I do! I felt stupid. And well on my way to becoming that weird little old lady…)

pic by Alan Eno

All in all this has given me an appetite. I really had fun, studying those reports. Writing their conclusions in my own words. I never told you, did I? That my Master thesis was a design with a Philosophical treaty about how planning engineers should approach the different parties ethically. And which language they should use (the language the other party understands, not the jargon one is used to use oneself)

It was a bad thesis anyway, filled with young cockiness. But it does illustrate my love for understanding something technical and rewording it in a language the reader understands.

I’m sure this experience and the joy I got from it will lead me somewhere and you will recognize it in my future and can say: “I knew it!”  :)

All in all I did a full days work. And I LOVED it.

Now I’ve even started dreaming about having a real job for real. One of the first warnings that comes to mind is that I should do what I want, not what I can. So making cat illustrations should be a more likely choice of direction than consulting for people who want to take on planning permissions. Please try and remember, Anna.

Well, isn’t that a miracle week?

pic by C. Graat

here now a few tidbits I’ve been meaning to share:

– I’ve bought a car. For me. It has brought me out of my isolation. I’m no longer trapped in that piece of woodland. I’m no longer dependent on the weekly trips to and from the city my husband makes. I can go when I want to. driving itself it still very tiresome but the idea that I can really lifts my spirits. I put an emergency knitting project into the glove box.

– driving the car in the Summer makes me think of my mother’s mother a lot. I admire her.

– I still mourn my grandmother very much. I am annoyed by how this surprises me. And how familiar these feelings are. And so unfamiliar too. I am deeply sad by losing this connection to the women who make up my family.

– each day is a struggle healthwise. But it’s no longer an uphill battle.

– my GP was delighted by the results and course I presented to him. I got warm handshakes and a request for help for one of his other patients. I was so relieved he understood everything I said. To him, biochemical talk is normal.

– Only last week I thought about the french numbers for 7,8,9 and 10: sept, huit, neuve, dice. They align with the months: Septembre, Ottobre, Novembre and Decembre. Too much similarity to be a co-incidence! Which would mean they are meant to be month nr. 7,8,9 and 10. Not 9,10,11 and 12.

A little googlygoogly affirms this. Roman years started with March. There you go. I thought I had an interesting thought but it was nowhere unique.

– Should I tell you about my thought about penstrokes and numbers or would that be too obvious too? See, Japanese numbers 1,2 and 3 are made out of one, two, three penstrokes. I think our Western numbers are too. One is a vertical stroke. Two is two horizontal strokes but someone forgot to lift their pen/stift from the paper/clay. Three is three horizontal strokes, again dragging your pen/stift.

I could go on, I’ve thought it through for quite a lot of numbers. Four is supposed to be a little square box. It’s botched.  Five could be a box too (or two vertical strokes). Six is a circle. Zeven is a long vertical stroke with a strike through. And on.

– I’ve found a way to write and not get stuck: do it in blog form. Perhaps I shall start a blog about the bacteria. I have all the information and the fascination. Weirdly enough I might have to wait until Novembre again. It seems my interests follow the seasons too. Just like my preference of colours.

– I am sewing couture dresses for myself. I’m teaching myself and have now finished two (practise) dresses. They are acceptable. And their fit is amazing. Having a nice dress, handmade and customfit, is a very pleasant luxury! I wear it with glee in the city. I wear it in the house, sitting up straight and feeling good.

– I’m really bored with how long everything takes and how little I can do. In my mind I have sewn five dresses already, in reality I have to wait for the day that I can sit up one hour at a time and have my first priority-ducks in a row before I can get anything fun done.

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A Good Days Work: Science Writer

it was lovely and very different than from what I expected.

After writing 3 blog posts this morning (one here, two over at the knitting blog) and loosing myself a bit here talking about sweaters, I was too tired to do my thing right away. There’s this window of time you see, when I get energy from my breakfast but before the hard digesting begins. It’s about 45 minutes long which is the time that a stomach needs to process a moderate bowl of food. After that the small intestines go to work, you know, the part with the pancreas/gallbladder/liver. It’s where the main uptake of nutriënts takes place and it’s a very busy time for the body, hard work. I usually have to lay down for that. Otherwise no digestion, no nutrition, more illness. My belly starts to ‘sing’ (bloop!blblblop!) which is the sign it is working. But no horizontal resting, no singing.

So I took my rest, did more knitting and waited untill I would bounce back. This happened at around 2 o’clock so I stood up, washed my face (if I have not done this by the time ‘ingestion-nap’ sets in I have to wait.) and prepared my desk. Ready to go to work!

looks quite ‘alternative’ for a down to earth engineer/writer doesn’t it?

that’s Frau Holle on the wall; my bird watching binoculars on the cat’s thingy; théine free Lady Grey tea with cream in a handmade mug and a free style knitted cushion inspired by Mary Walker Phillips. Knitting for engineers, be sure!

On the left is my notebook with the notes I made while reading my sources for the last few months. You see I have colour coded a few because I plan to have four approaches to bacteria. This will be four books, four papers or four elaborate chapters. We’ll see. I opened my writing pad, it’s on the right there, rotated a bit. That is because I don’t write in a horizontal line, I write vertical, from bottom to top. Usually my pad is rotated even more than this when I write on it… don’t know why. Don’t care.

on a separate piece of paper I jotted down the general outline of the paper, it’s on one of the two cards on the right. I am pleased that this outline is not a very logical one. It’s not scientific in approach, it’s not describing the problem, describing the context, describing solutions and end with conclusions. No, it’s more whimsical. There are about 30 main paths this paper can follow, in structure. Paths like the scientific one I described above. Or a diary. Or historic overview. I just chose one subject I want to start with and followed it up with another and another. It is now an indication of chapters that I cannot defend but I really like it. I am looking forward to put some wordy flesh on these structural bones.

And then the words wouldn’t come…

Those first words. The first alinea. The jumping block from which the rest would flow.

I tinkered around a bit, tried some starts. Dug up some more figures up online. It was not that it was a blank canvas that hindered me, I knew exactly what that first alinea would have to say. It was that I could not find the exact words I was looking for. I was not funny and witty from the get go.

So I stood up and walked around the room, fiddling with this and that. Sitting again. Writing a sentence. Crossing it. Checking twitter. Fiddle a bit more. Brush teeth. (another thing that is important in my day. If too much time passes between my tooth brushings too much plaque (=bacteria) builds up and this becomes a body burden. To me. Because I am crazy sensitive. It’s something I discovered empirically and it is repeatedly confirmed. But it too takes planning because I was just about to make myself a cup of tea so I’ll do that first……an hour later I have the nagging feeling I’m forgetting something… thankfully because my eating doesn’t involve sugars or starches I do not have to brush every three hours like other people should.)

Well, then the writing came. I wrote that first alinea, it just came. It is nice. I’m happy with it. (even if it’s just a first draft)

Then the second wouldn’t come. Got to do more fiddling. Then it started again. And so on.

I am really surprised this is how it works! It is like playing, I am really having fun. But then the next moment it’s like you want to cry a bit, because it hurts a bit, but without desperation. Whimpering more. A really weird combination.

What it is not is too much pressure. Too much ambition. Too much thinking. Too much work. Yay.

I am really surprised. And glad.

x

PS

writing like this is JUST like knitting the way Mary Ann Phillips does. You knów what you are doing and still you are just playing. You take your skills and your knowledge and you forget about the rules (but not entirely)

patterns emerge, beautiful things emerge. Things you could not have imagined before you started making them but once you make them you recognize them. Their pattern, the rules they obey, the rules they break. It is a very joyeus way of working.

x

these knitting were just started, without any plan in mind. Just do some knits, a purl, a yarn over. By repeating them patterns emerge. They themselves inspire to knit following rows a certain way to create other patterns. Before you know it you have made a piece of lace kitting that no one ever before has made. You have even invented some stitches that did not exist previously.