Thursday, September 25, 2008

All Change

This is the life – literally: writing, workshopping and shrinking. I have carried on walking since building up a bit of muscle at the Edinburgh Festival and try to do half an hour of this at least three times a week, though sometimes it isn’t possible. I have been waiting for the crunch to come in the form of relapse plus usual symptoms but so far I have kept going. This is all relative, obviously. Sometimes I feel like the drunk who tries to prove he is sober by walking a straight line from A to B. I wobble and I fall on my face unless I keep focussed on the next task, and even then progress is not steady. But I am, it has to be said, better, and I think I have hit on the reason why, which has nothing to do with treatments or processes that try and teach you to positively think yourself better. It is simply that I am a woman of a certain age and suddenly I don’t have to deal with the monthly hormonal fluctuations. For many women this is significant. For me, it is potentially huge: even before M.E. it was found that my immune system was behaving oddly and that I was (in my first pregnancy) actually allergic to the hormones my body produced. Since then, the switch from one hormonal state to another would often be accompanied by a feeling of electricity in the body, and this always heralded the onset of another nasty relapse.

I am keeping my fingers crossed and can only say hallelujah to the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another, hormonally stable one. I am trying not to think about it too much for fear of crashing again, but still. I feel oddly as though I’m about to step back, or sideways, into a younger state of being, a great load sloughed off my back.

Tomorrow is a workshopping afternoon with three writing friends I usually meet with in Lewes. This time we will meet at Signs Cottage and have cake – stage one of my birthday (though cake at any time is a good thing). On Saturday there will be as many women as can fit around two tables wedged together in my kitchen for lunch – and another cake, made by a friend to whom I gave the recipe and now she probably makes it better than I can because she is a born cake-maker. It’s a Claudia Roden one, made with oranges, ground almonds and eggs, no flour, so you can eat it any time and feel you are doing something healthy, and it is lovely. Sunday, stage three, the Signs family will go to Brighton for oysters and a meet-up with sister, brother-in-law and niece.

Everything changes. In blog world too. I miss some of the blogging people I used to see round and about more often and remember how I once thought that blogging was time out, not real life, but people come and go, one has a sense of presence, connection, things happen (or not), it feels just like life. And we keep moving on, eating cake.

Orange and Almond Cake

2 large oranges
6 eggs
250 g (8 oz) ground almonds
250 g (8 oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Butter and flour, for cake tin

Wash and boil the oranges (unpeeled) in a little water for nearly 2 hours (or 1⁄2 hour in a pressure cooker). Let them cool, then cut them open and remove the pips. Turn the oranges into a pulp by rubbing them through a sieve or by putting them in an electric blender.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients, mix thoroughly and pour into a buttered and floured cake tin with a removable base if possible. Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven (190C/375F/Mark 5) for about 1 hour. If it is still very wet, leave it in the oven for a little longer. Cool in the tin before turning out.


Kahless said...

I really like your outlook on life. I really enjoy reading your posts. I dont know what it is. Maybe we share an outlook of subtle, je ne c'est quois (excuse spelling - my excuse I failed my french o'level)


On a different note, I remember six months ago feeling upset when someone I really related to vanished from blogland. Now, well i just accept it as such is life. the comings and goings.

I accept blogland as just what it is expect no more.

I am meeting my first blogger in the next month. In part i am dreading it. Nervous that I'll meet someone who i cant relate to in RL and then have to stay in their company for a few hours and it be awkward!!!
(i can say that safely knowing that they wont read this!) An aussie visiting the uk.

Anyway, I am rambling...

Collin said...

As always, I admire the honesty you bring to your blogs about your ME. Thinking of you and wishing I was in Lewes.

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks Kahless, and it is perhaps appropriate to reaveal that I didn't fail my maths O level because I wasn't even put in for it, I was that bad. And here we are both totally bloody brilliant.

It's great revealing secrets in the comments on other people's blog - do it myself sometimes :)

Collin, I wish you were in Lewes too, or Brighton. But this country is getting more expensive by the day, damn.

Here on the forest, it's a perfect golden-blue, crisp autumn day - the best. Here's wishing you a few of those.

Gael said...

I often want to comment on your posts, and sometimes try, but then delete my meagre reply. However, fortified by a glass (or three) I'll keep it simple and just say I'm glad you haven't vanished from blogland. For want of a better word, I like the 'philosophical' bent your posts often take.
The blogosphere *is* important to me and, I think fortunately, often interfaces with my RL.
Hence on my way to Charleston last weekend for Small Wonders (to hear the saintly Ali), I found myself in Hastings, visiting some mutual aquaintances from 'The Other Place' and I thought of you. I tend to associate people with places now, and "Sussex" at large belongs to you, Silky and Loubin.
Have a great birthday, I wish you many happy returns, and willl eat cake in you honour - any excuse ; )

Reading the Signs said...

Gael - thank you and mwah! I am delighted to think of you eating cake in my honour.

I didn't make Small Wonders this year, but do go to Charleston sometimes. I like it there and have ghostly conversations with VW in the garden.

Am happy to share Sussex at large with others :)

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Happy Birthday to Signs, Happy Birthday to Signs.... Tra la laaaa!
Have a wonderful weekend and a wonderful birthday and may the year ahead be filled with love and laughter, friends and fun, peace and harmony and very, very good health!

And yummy, yummy, a cake that I can actually eat! Wheeeeeee!

cusp said...

As I read this post I was terribly afraid you were about to say you were about to leave Blogland for The Forest and walking. Thankfully this is not so. You're the main reason I took up my blog-reins again. I'd given up so I thank you for that, my dear.

Have a lovely birthday, check your emails and eat an oyster for me !

Taeverso for the recipe. As a gluten free cake lover I am always seeking out new treats and Claudia Roden always 'rocks' (as is the commom parlance nowadays, I belive)in my estimation ---- poise, elegance, a sophisticated calm ---and that's just the person, let alone the food.

Bottoms up !

Reading the Signs said...

dear Vanilla, I wish I could send you some virtually - it's all gone now. I've had a lovely day - thank you for your good wishes.

Reading the Signs said...

Well sometimes I feel on the cusp, Cusp - but I'm still here. As my old aunt Linchen used to say, Unkraut vergeht night, which means something like weeds don't die that easily. And I'm glad you found your blogshoes again.

Poesie says hallo. Everyone notices her and says how beautiful she is, and it's true. Reflection of some quality of her maker perhaps?

The cake is fab - truly. You wouldn't know it hasn't got flour in it. (If you make it, use a springform tin).

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

Isn't that great. Hormones eh? Can't live with em, can't live without em.



trousers said...

Here's hoping the crunch (ie relapse) doesn't materialise, it's good to hear that things are looking relatively settled and positive, health-wise. Long may this continue.

Ms Melancholy said...

I know just what you mean about those who suddenly disappear.....I am always surprised at the impact it has on me. Remember Daniel? We both used to visit him quite a lot and then he just deleted one day. I still think about him.

But as someone who has had quite significant absences over the past six months, I realise how difficult it is to acknowledge thewhy's to your blog just feels a bit narcissistic to assume that people miss you and get into sorry I haven't been blogging much posts.

Which leads me nicely on to your previous post. Very amusing quiz, although I couldn't possibly disclose my results. The schizoid part of me is afraid you won't be interested and the paranoid part is afraid that you will. It's the kind of double bind that could drive one into mental illness.

Nice to chat, Ms Signs!

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Pants, it would be great, yes.

Trousers, thanks, I'm keeping fingers crossed.

Ms Melancholy, it's true, and I think of him too. I suppose you can do thinks virtually, like delete yourself, that are harder to do in RL.

According to that quiz, one of my disorders is of the narcissistic kind, so if I do take a break it should feel easy for me to do the "hello world, have you missed me" routine. But I think the schizotypal (what that anyway?) way might suit me better.

Nicola said...

Over the top on borderline, me. Thought to keep this to myself until I woke up and realised I am in much the best company, walking the edge with you.

R.H. said...

That recipe is bizarre.

Nicola said...

Signs, that was fully intended to be a compliment, but I am brought up short by the realisatin that what I said could be viewed as offensive.

Blame the fact that I am reading 'The Loony Bin Trip' - a horrifying tale of what can happen if others around us refuse to believe in our sanity.

'Poor are we if merely sane' (Winnicott) as a dear friend keeps reminding me.

Reading the Signs said...

Nicola, don't worry I knew what you meant. I'll have to take a look at that book, sounds interesting. My great uncle actually feigned the symptoms of schizophrenia so as not to have to go and fight a war, but for him all turned out well and he went on to become an eminent professor. Me, even when not near a forest I've always been On The Edge.

R.H., I know! But it's brilliant and comes out just as a cake should, just more moist.

north said...

dear signs

happy birthday - much love to you - bloggers may come and go - like myself - but you have something wonderful and stable, like a centre,wise words, cake and honesty. I walk with you.
walking out north as I do now and then

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks, dear North - wish you could have beamed yourself South for the day!