Welcome to the new year. Hopefully 2021 will be better to us, even though it started out with a BANG (not only in the news but in my family too). Before you’re scared off by the rant that’s following (only this once, promised), please leave your wishes for subjects or themes I should be blogging about. I’ve run out of ideas again but would love to create a list of interesting topics like last year to help me through the year. Just leave me a topic in the comments.
And now back to the two ps I’m not going to mention again after this post: the current political upheavals and the pandemic. We’ll start with the latter. I know the restrictions for the pandemic are hard for everyone, but don’t forget that everyone suffers for the sake of their fellow humans. But that is not the only way how you can help if you want.
Do you have a family member, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance you haven’t been in contact for a while? Call them. Make sure they’re okay, that no black clouds are hanging over them. Depression sneaks up on you and sometimes you don’t even know you’ve got it before it’s too late. If you’ve got the funds, gift your friend a book or eBook. Taking one’s mind off the two ps is a good way to find your center again.
And don’t forget yourself either. If you’re living alone, try to get some fresh air daily, even if it’s just standing at a window for a little while (better would be a walk in an uncrowded area). Keep your distance from anyone not living with you and wear a mask. And if you feel like it, let me know you’re okay. I keep worrying about my family, my friends, and my readers. Hopefully this will be over soon.
As to the second p (politics), I’ll just say, listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He might not be a specialist on Nazis, but he’s lived through what they left of the German countries. Since the aim of Nazis is the destruction of democracy, the ONLY way to handle Nazis is to chase them away, cut off their access to mass media, and/or lock them up (if they can be rightfully charged). And that is NOT censorship. They’re still allowed to say what they believe. It’s just a severe reduction of their platform. One thing to always keep in mind: if you find yourself agreeing with a Nazi (or similar), you’re in the wrong. There’s no debate possible about that.
I am not taking sides. I just would like to drop one thought into your minds. Here in Germany, we’ve got Conservatives too (plus many more parties), but even the ones farthest to the right are still pro democracy. If the people you support aren’t, you should rethink your values.
Thank you for bearing with me. I (hopefully) won’t need to rant again any time soon.
I know you’ve been waiting patiently, and I appreciate that. I meant to publish the final volume at the beginning of this year but as you can read if you go to the older posts, that just didn’t work out.
But now, I’m finally able to sit again which means I’m working on the revision. During the time I spent on my belly (roughly from May till now), I translated the chapters I already had using dictation. That went fine, but revision is something that just doesn’t work with dictation. At least not for me.
After I stopped writing the first draft in November last year, I added sentences for the missing scenes so I’d know what needed to be written. Now I’m pretending that I already did write those scenes (7-8 in total) and started on the revision. Naturally I’m using my abbreviated version of How To Revise Your Novel for that since this book is a mess (unwritten scenes, missing clues that are needed for the ending, a superfluous character, and more).
But as my beta readers can attest you, I’m fast when it comes to revision (at least now that I’m more or less healthy again). Therefore I’m aiming for a release in late September. It’s a tight schedule, but I should be able to pull it off IF Murphy doesn’t throw some additional stuff my way (like the broken central heating that needed replacing and that is getting repaired today – grrr). So please don’t get angry should the book get delayed a little more than that. I’m doing my best, working as fast as I can.
As a thank you for your patience, I’m already showing you the cover and hope you like it as much as I do.
Sometimes, life just explodes, and that happened to me in November. In a rapid succession, my kids moved (one even twice), and I was so busy with the paperwork and the actual moving that all my writing plans were blown to smithereens until April.
Then, in May, my doctor found an issue with my digestive system that required a tiny operation. Really, the cut couldn’t have been more than 10mm (a little more than 1/4 inch), but I’ve been flat out ever since. I’m sleeping, swallowing pain meds and sleeping again. It took me by surprise, but seems to be the norm. When I complained, the doc told me, it’ll take roughly six weeks. Thanks for the advance warning. 😀
Well, I did the best I could. Today way my first day of getting back into the swing of things. I lay on my bed and dictated the translation of “High School Dragons: Crowned by Fire”, the final volume of the trilogy. Yes, it’s close to completion. All I need to write is the showdown. Since I need to read the whole story again to get in the right mood, I’m translating at the same time. That saves me time and nerves and makes a late summer/early autumn release likely.
An interesting fact I only discovered recently was that the data I collected with my sensors will not be stored on my PC even when I download them from the hand held gadget. Naturally that makes it quite impossible to do any long term analytics. There also is no way to store the Freestyle Libre data in a format that would allow me to use an analytical program. The only thing I can do is compare the ready made analysis from one day or month with another. I find that rather annoying, so I called support. They told me that only the cloud system they’ve got will store data long term.
And I hate cloud based systems. I do not want my data, regardless which data, to be anywhere but on my own PC if at all. That might be old-fashioned but I do not trust the security, no matter how often anyone assures me that their security is the best. Imho there’s no better security than a PC that’s not online. That way, no sensitive data (and health related data is considered extremely sensitive) will ever get out of my sight. So in my eyes, not having an option to store data long term on my own PC is a huge drawback of the software.
Since I didn’t know this beforehand, I wasn’t able to compare the latest with earlier data or to spot a trend. Of course some things with my blood sugar were pretty straightforward: higher blood sugar levels over Christmas and New Year and whenever the cold showed up again (and it raised its ugly head several times already this year). Also, I had several really low blood sugar drops. Measurements went as far down as 70-75mg/dl which isn’t critical yet (Hypoglycemia starts at 50mg/dl) but the gadget still warned me of low sugar levels.
I found that they show up more often when I had eaten a lot of “junk” food (like white flour rolls, cookies, cake, and the like). That’s a sign that my body produces a lot of insulin to cope with the influx of sugar, but because it’s a sugar variant that’s easily digested, it vanishes out of the blood stream so fast. Then, the remaining insulin calls for MORE carbohydrates. It’s a vicious cycle because if one really follows that craving one naturally gains weight. Its best to ignore the tiny piranhas gnawing at your intestines. I drink some water and sit it out (or go for a walk).
Since most of the time my blood sugar is too high, not too low, I drink a glass of grapefruit juice daily. I get a small but short lived spike shortly after drinking, but the dropdown later makes up for it. Grapefruit juice takes the blood sugar down better than my medicine. I highly recommend grapefruit juice (try to get some that has been freshly pressed, it’s tastier) for diabetics like me. It generally helps to get a grip on your blood sugar.
As I said last time, Romans liked colors. They painted the walls of their homes with different shades of red, white and green, often mixed with mosaics, patterns, or detailed murals. Often, the outsides of the houses were painted too. In the recreated houses in Xanthen, the color of choice was a dark-ish red. In these two photos you can see a restored restaurant, but the color was the same as on the private homes. I cannot tell you if the archeologists got that from research in Roman documents, from finds on other sites (like Pompeij) or from finds on this site, but it surely looked nice.
The restored restaurant even had a cellar, a feature many of the houses didn’t have. But the restaurant had to keep wine and vegetables cooled. Storing them underground was the best way to keep them because even in summer, the soil remained fresh and cold in a cellar. The thick walls and the buried amphorae ensured this. Food was fetched as needed.
I can’t tell how many houses shared this feature but would expect that at least the upper class had their own cellars if for wine only.
Not far from the restored restaurant were the remains of a smithy. You can see how sturdily the foundations were built. Some bricks were built in vertically to better spread out the weight of walls, floors, and furniture resting on top of them. This photo is quite interesting because by the size and form of the foundations one can determine where the walls used to be, and also where the furnace and the anvil must have stood.The open areas between the foundations were there to allow the hot air from the floor heating to circulate.
I had my diabetes completely under control until early November. With a weekly average around 118-120mg/dL (which converts to 6,5-6,6%), my blood sugar levels resembled that of a healthy human. However, my skin is still thinner than usual and the nail of my left thumb easily rips (from the tip of the nail downward into the flesh which hurts like hell). I blame these symptoms on my diabetes since I’ve never had them before the diagnosis.
Then, Stress (yes, capitalized) hit me hard. My eldest, her best friend, and my youngest decided to move, and I had to fight myself through a mountain of paperwork, battle off an unreasonable landlord, help carry furniture and clothes six floors down and four flours up.
During that time I still managed to eat only twice a day, and I’m proud to say that despite the Stress, I did not gain weight again (something I’m prone to do when stressed). I also managed to eat reasonably well during Christmas. Only the Chinese food we had on the 25th was a disaster for my diabetes, but I’d already anticipated that. Still, my blood sugar levels worsened from early November on until past x-mas. Then, I got a cold (seems obligatory for me between the years) and my sugar levels exploded. Some days they didn’t even go below 160mg/dL no matter how much exercise I got or how little I ate.
Some research revealed that my own liver was at fault. Due to the fact that my body was battling the cold, it had decided we’d need more energy to get that done. So it freed sugar from its fatty deposits. Unfortunately my cells weren’t responsive enough (yet) to funnel the high amount of sugar out of the blood stream fast enough.
Now that the cold and the Stress are mostly over, blood sugar levels are getting more normal again. I’ll keep monitoring them and will keep you posted on my progress. I’ll also return to a one-carbohydrate-free-meal-a-day strategy as soon as it gets a little warmer. After all, I want to lose some more weight this year.
At home the Romans dressed casually but, since Germany was a comparatively cold country, with warm dresses. The Roman men adapted with time and often wore the long under-trousers that German men wore. The toys of the children were often similar to those still used today (waddling animals like ducks, spinning tops, marbles, etc.). Shoes were made of leather and protected the feet from the cold and the sharpest shards. Still, you felt every stone through the thin sole (I know because I bought a pair for myself. They’re very comfortable but much like walking barefoot).
As far as I could tell, Romans loved bright colors. The fabrics in the rooms we saw were mostly yellows, greens, reds, and the natural shades of wool. Strangely enough I didn’t see any floor coverings or wall hangings (like carpets or tapestries). I’m not sue if they didn’t exist or if the reconstructing people just didn’t think them important. To me, the rooms looked rather spartan (in the modern sense of the word since Romans most likely didn’t copy Spartan living styles 😀 )
When the Romans left the house, they had a strict dress code. The amount and quality of the fabric a person wore depended on the family’s financial situation. The more and the better, the higher your status. Togas were used for keeping warm during winter but also for showing respect. For example: women who didn’t cover their feet with the toga they were wearing weren’t respectable. In Roman times, only whores and the very poor would show their feet. A man could even divorce his wife if she was seen withe more than the tips of her toes showing beneath her toga. So the picture on the right is wrong in that regard (I’ll tell you in a later post how I learned these details).
As you can see in the picture on the left, security measures during work weren’t yet invented. Like this smith, the Romans wore comfortable clothes for even the most dangerous work. I bet there were a lot of work related accidents.
Germans wore far warmer clothing. Since they didn’t have amenities like heated floors, they wore long skirts and heavy trousers even inside their houses. Outside they usually had several layers to keep off the cold and the rain. I guess in summer they wore pretty much the same indoors as out. But our guide didn’t say anything about that, so that’s guesswork on my side.
I believe that most Romans in Xanthen bought their fabric from Germans except for the richest who surely imported theirs directly from Rome. But not everybody had the means to do that. Our guide confirmed active trading.
In November when I normally participate in the writing marathon NaNoWriMo, it was decided that my eldest daughter could move out of the assisted living home into her first ever flat that she wanted to share with her BFF. We agreed that she should be trained in budgeting and cooking until the two girls found a suitable flat. Of course considering the current limited market for flats, we thought we’d have three to four months to get everything sorted.
Surprise, surprise, by the second week of November, they had secured a newly renovated flat that lay in the budget (money-wise and size-wise) with four rooms, a big kitchen, a bath room and a separate toilet room. The girls were excited … me too until I realized how much trouble that spelled for me: bureaucracy. I filled in application after application, canceled living quarters here, ordered energy there … One day I took twenty-two letters to the post office, mostly applications for one thing or the other.
It seemed to take forever, but in early December, we got the go ahead and were able to finally sign the rental agreement. So the kids began to pack their things. In the excitement, they cycled box after box of stuff from their old living quarters to the new flat. Expecting to get most boxes out of the way easily, I drove to my daughter’s best friend’s 6th floor flat with my car to empty it out except for the furniture that would need a van (to be rented).
We worked from morning till nightfall, and there was still more (It wasn’t as bad as in the picture, though). So the kids used their bikes again the next day. Then, the flat’s neighbor attacked my daughter’s BFF with a picture on a canvas so badly that the BFF had a severe concussion. The police got involved which meant we had to go to the Police station to give our statements. Then, the landlord’s property manager set a tight deadline. Due to the holidays, the flat had to be empty by 4pm on the 28th, and the bedroom, which had been painted green by the previous inhabitant, had to be painted white (that was last Tuesday).
I alerted my family and friends, and great guys that they are, they came. In a concerted effort we emptied the flat, painted the room, carted all the furniture to the new flat (4th floor), put all the bulky waste on a trailer, and cleaned everything. Trust me, I’ve never been this tired in my life.
Therefore I’m hoping for a peaceful and quiet Christmas time. I will not write between the years even though I urgently need to. I’ll read and relax so I’ll be fit again for next year.
And I wish you the same.
I’m sorry for not writing any Christmas cards this year or for sending out presents too late. But as you can see, there weren’t enough hours in the day and not enough energy in my aging body. Hugs to everyone who things (s)he needs a hug. Those I’ve got plenty.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
We’ll see/read each other again in 2019 (I promise more blog posts about the road trip I took with my husband, and about my diabetes controlling efforts).
To get my weight down and become free from diabetes, I decided to start a second round of strict application of Dr. Fung’s recommendations. Since I love science (after all I’ve got a PhD in science), I decided to document my journey.
Therefore, I got my husband to wear one of my Freestyle Libre pads for a week as a first step. He is slim and non-diabetic, so I got a baseline I could aim for. In the picture on the left, you see the data for two typical days for me (and that’s already spectacular for a diabetic). On the right is a picture of the data of two typical days of my husband (the baseline I’m aiming for). You can increase the sze of the pictures by clicking on them (they’ll open in a new tab).
You can see that his measurements (the blue line) are nearly always (99%) inside the grey area that indicates good blood sugar levels. Also, his spikes are much more pointy, which means that even when his blood sugar spikes, it comes down fast. My blood sugar spikes are much more rounded which means it takes my body a lot longer to get it transported out of the blood stream. Also, on average, my blue line is higher than his and more of my spikes leave the grey area.
For better comparison, I accumulated data for one week for both of us (an option of my analytical program) into a graph of daily averages (see the next two graphs, mine is on the left, hubbys on the right).
Not only is my Median (that’s a special kind of average; if you’re into math, you can find an explanation here) much higher than his, the spread is much wider (meaning that there are more data points with much higher or lower values than the Median than in my husband’s data pool) and the nightly dips aren’t as pronounced.
So my goal is to get my weekly accumulated Median as close to his as possible over the next months. I’d be happy if you’d share my journey. If you decide to play along, please let me know if Dr. Fung’s advice works for you. Next week I’ll tell you more about my journey (mostly how I felt, how successful I was at keeping to Dr. Fung’s recommendations, and the changes to my weight and diabetic data).
One of the shops we visited was a smithy. I was surprised by the tiny size of the fireplace (that’s the little gridiron in the middle of the red painted wall). I think in winter, it must have been quite cold for those people who didn’t have floor heating. After all, Germany was colder, wetter, and all in all less comfortable that Italy. I’m sure many of the inhabitants wished they’d stayed in Rome.
The smithy worked with silver if I remember correctly. For an iron forge, the furnace is too small. Not too far from the recreated houses were the remains of a iron forge, and it had three furnaces and ground heating. However, it hadn’t been reconstructed, so one had to use one’s imagination.
Everyone who owned a little shop worked and sold their wares from home (on the other side of the bellows, outside the picture, is the room-wide wooden counter for selling wares; the whole front of the room could be opened to the street). There was no separation between small and medium sized businesses and the owner’s living quarters. They were mostly in the same house. Only big industries (like the dockyards, farming, or stone masonry) had their work-spaces outside the city.
Romans loved luxury, and those who could afford it, wanted to celebrate like in Rome. So there were restaurants with bed-sofas. Each of the little rooms (see picture) could hold nine men (no women allowed there unless they were whores). It surprised me to learn that Romans didn’t always lie down for eating. That was only done for feasting. At home, they had wooden tables with chairs or stools. The children often stood while eating.
Romans also insisted on cleanliness. Bath houses were spread throughout the city so every citizen had access. There was a really big one for the higher classes near the town center, but the park’s owners had built the museum on top of it. Still, there were enough foundations to understand the basic layout. Also, they had reconstructed on of the bath houses.
The genders bathed in different facilities. The first room a customer entered was a cold room for undressing. The next one was already quite warm and had basins with warm and cold water. It as often used for shaving and washing before one went on to the last room. Upon one’s return it also served for cooling down slowly. It was heated extremely well and the water was as warm as it is in one of today’s bathtubs. The main point of this room was relaxation (and surely talking business as well). The big bathhouse had some smaller rooms at the side for massages or whoring or simply for resting, but the reconstructed bathhouse didn’t have those.
I was most delighted by the colorful designs of the houses. The archeologists used historical finds from other areas to recreate the rooms, and they were much more colorful than what I’d anticipated.