Thursday, August 26, 2010

On saving lives... or not...

A recent locum at my general practise (who is worth a post in himself, but that's for another day) sent me a link to this article from The New Yorker, with a request for a response. The article itself is a discussion of how we manage end-of-life issues - it's long, but well worth reading, even if you don't think you're interested in the topic!

End-of-life issues are a difficult topic - emotionally charged and often polarising. I guess that's why we deal with it so badly - but it's so, so important. There are no easy answers here... no cookie-cutter solutions... every case - every person, every situation is different and answers must be found for each on their own terms and in their own time.

I think my grandparents were... lucky, perhaps? It doesn't seem like quite the right word, but what I mean is that they were spared excessive, invasive treatments and mostly spent little time in hospital. The slow degeneration of old age is not easy to watch, of course, but I believe they were cared for in a way that was appropriate for them and their needs and wishes.

Firstly, and briefly, there were some professional reminders in this for me - that sometimes medical treatment is not the answer. That, either way, good pain relief and symptomatic treatment are essential. And doctors sometimes need to just be more realistic!

But I found that the overwhelming message of this article was that we need to talk about end-of-life decisions. Doctors, nurses, health-care workers... and - more importantly - as parents, siblings, children, friends... we need to talk about what we want, and keep talking about it. Yes, it's difficult and confronting and we don't know how to raise the issue, but given the alternatives, how can we justify NOT doing it? Part of me knew this, and said "Of course we need to ask, duh" - but what this article pointed out for me was that it's not as simple as asking "would you like to be recuscitated?" That's not enough - we need to talk specifics: If this happens, what do you want us to do? What about if that happens? Would you like this treatment?

It reminded me that one day I will likely be confronted with these same issues for my own parents, and while I know that they have both written advance directives, I don't really know what they say - or what their scope is. I've never talked in detail to my fiancé or my brother about what they would want, or - for that matter - about what I would want. We're young, yes, and my parents are relatively healthy, so it will probably be a long time before we really have to confront the issue - but you never know. Better to talk about it now, while it's not in our faces and it's not so emotional. And keep talking about it - the answers change over time.

What about you? Do you know what your parents want? Your brothers and sisters? Your significant other? Your best friend? What Gawunde's article told me was to talk about it. Keep bringing it up, keep asking the hard questions. One day you'll probably be glad you did.

Thoughts, anyone? Did this article say something different to you? Do you have an experience or insight you'd like to share?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"In a way, the entire human being is in the hands"

Here is a lovely thing I found over at Mason Dixon Knitting and thought was worth sharing:

There is probably another post in the works, but it's not ready yet :) I have been making progress - albeit slow - on my Finish It! projects... there will be an update once I have something a little more substantial to show for it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lists and sets and tags, or - why I find flickr confusing

Mundi Mundi

My flickr photoset for Broken Hill can be found here* :)
I've just come back from two weeks in Menindee. I stopped by the Menindee lake lookout on my way back yesterday and it was actually quite cool to see the lake almost full - a comparatively rare event!

Further to my previous post, my project list for Finish It! is here

My first item is a pair of socks (Ravelry link) I started this week.
Chevron sock in progress

After a couple of early false starts and changing the stitch pattern twice, I'm really pleased with how this is going.

*at great pains, because I don't use flickr much and find it hard to organise my photos properly

Thursday, July 15, 2010


So my friend Carolyn linked me to this post at Oh the Cuteness. Subtle, huh? ;)

The idea is called "Finish it!", and the point is to finish up those UFOs (unfinished objects) that most crafters seem to collect. I'll admit to having, um, quite a few UFOs sitting around and it would be good to clear some of that clutter. I'll also admit to saying I'll do things like this and never following through, but we'll see what happens!

My list of projects will be quite short, at least for now - most of my UFOs are halfway across the country (and in more than one place) so what I have with me in Broken Hill is actually pretty limited. I'll start with what I have and gather up some more along the way, depending how I go. I've always plenty of books to catch up on if I run out of knitting & spinning! listography list and photos will follow in a couple of days once I get back to the Hill. Feel free to kick me if I don't!

List of participants here
Flickr group here

Friday, January 22, 2010

Also the sentiment that 'I wish the word (acquaintance) weren't dying out.'

This entry hit on some things that have been on my mind, on and off, but never quite figured out how to express for myself.

This is part of what struck a cord with me:

"The biggest myth about friendship is that it goes in one direction... You're not allowed to go from friends to graceful acquaintances. We do it all the time, but we don't talk about it or admit that it's okay."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An existential crisis, of sorts

So there is this issue that has been bothering me, on and off, for – lets say the last couple of weeks. Here’s the thing.

I eat meat.

I like meat, I always have. I like vegetables and vegetarian food too, but I’ve never been able to come at the idea not ever eating meat. I can’t even imagine living without eggs or dairy.

All my life I have seen trucks carrying livestock; often they invoke a twinge of guilt/anger/sadness at the way we treat these animals – stuffing them in the back of a truck and shipping them off to an abattoir – but rarely any thought beyond that.

Last week I saw a truck full of cows just down the street from my house as I was driving home one afternoon. I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, except that – fair warning, this is gross, you probably don’t want to be eating right now – as it lurched off through the roundabout, there was liquid excrement running off the back of the trailer with every jolt and bump. Uhm, ew? And we treat sheep, cattle, chickens and who-knows-what-else like this all the time?

It got me thinking, and my problem is as follows:

How can I justify eating meat when we treat animals like this?

The more I think about it, the more this logic extends to other animal products. I mean, I buy free-range eggs – RSPCA or Animal Liberation certified if I can find them – but I never thought about how these animals are treated when they get old. To be quite honest, I have no idea and while I want to believe that free-range chickens are also treated well at the end of their life, I’m not sure I can take that for granted. The same applies to the cows who produce my favourite organic, bio-dynamic milk and yoghurt – what happens to them? I’m not so picky about cheese or butter or cream and have even less faith in the way those producers treat their animals.

It would be so much easier to just stick my head in the sand, but part of me wants to do the research and ask the hard questions so that I can make more informed decisions about what I eat. But I am scared of the answers, to be quite honest, and of the implications of those answers, and all too aware of the people I know who have gone vego/vegan for exactly these reasons.

And that doesn’t even touch on the ecological side of the debate, which is, well, complex and I can’t even begin to pretend to understand it.

So I guess I am asking for advice and opinion; what I am interested in is the ethical and ecological stuff. I have the resources and expertise to mostly figure out the health implications for myself. But I don’t know where to go for good ethical info and perspective, so I’d love some opinions and links :)

(I don't want to stop eating meat, but I'm worried that the price may be too high. What I’d love to find is that my certified free-range eggs and organic dairy come from animals who are treated ethically throughout their lifetime, or at least that those products are available to me. And that there is accessible, ethically produced meat out there and I can make an informed, ethical choice without having to stop eating meat altogether - even if it means considerably reducing my meat consumption. That’s my ideal.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Op-shopping! and 100 ideas...

My housemate loves her op-shops, so when she saw a big one in Millicent last weekend she knew straight away she wanted to go back one day when they were open. Yesterday afternoon we both finished at uni in time to get down there before their 3:30pm close, so that's what we did :)

A very successful trip, I must say:

Black/grey jeans, purple v-neck 3/4 sleeve top, green strapless summer dress.

A bag of yarn - grey, wool/ wool blend, ~5ply. 7 balls, so enough for a small garment, I'm thinking maybe a cardi.

These dark green teacups were on the free table.

Pretty handkerchief, I think maybe hand-embroidered.

Total spent: $17.

Also, this week I came across Keri Smith's 100 ideas for a journal. Seemed like a fun idea, so I printed out the pdf and cut it up.

I've done one so far, and considering my options for the next. I was hoping for one a day, but time and creativity constraints have got in the way somewhat! There will be photos when I've done a couple more though.

In the mean time, here is my little stack of squares sitting on the kitchen table, waiting for their turns :)