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Books from Santa

I am an avid reader, I have always had a massive love for reading from a very early age and will read pretty much anything.  I love modern fiction, horror, comedy, biographies, non fiction… I am not bookist!

And so I thought I would do a post about some books I am hoping Santa will bring me this year.  Let me know your thoughts and also any books you have on your ‘to read’ list.

 

Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly

This looks AMAZING, she is an inspirational and outstanding woman and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.  She has led such an interesting life and this is the first time she has written a personal memoir.  A living legend, I think this book will become a must have in the lives of British women.

vivienne westwood book

 

 

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

I don’t have Sky TV and so missed the whole ‘Girls’ phenomenon, but Lena Dunham has been on my ‘bad ass woman’ radar for a while and so I am looking forward to reading her book on how to be an awesome modern woman.  The book hit the headlines recently after she was accused of abusing her sister as she describes a memory of seeing her sibling’s vagina, I was impressed with how she dealt with the (ridiculous) criticism.

“I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietician. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.”

lena dunham not that kind of girl

 

 

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

“Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.” 

And with that sentence, I am hooked! The book was promoted by both the Richard and Judy book club and Radio 2 and it just sounds like the sort of great contemporary fiction that I like.

harry august claire north books i want for christmas

 

 

Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade

Richard Ayoade is possibly one of the coolest men in the world.  I just read that back to check if I was exaggerating and I stand by it… A conversation with himself this book looks fantastic.  Worth a buy just based on this AMAZING interview with Krishnan Guru Murthy.

richard ayoade book christmas gift for readers

Revolution by Russell Brand

I am not a massive Russell Brand fan, I liked his comedy a few years ago but his political shouting over the past year has at times seemed ill thought and attention seeking.

But obviously that has worked because despite my feelings I am still intrigued enough that I would like to have a read of his latest book!

“Russell Brand wants you to join the revolution… This book makes revolution not only possible, but inevitable and fun.”

russell brand book

The Art of Asking: How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

“Imagine standing on a box in the middle of a busy city, dressed as a white-faced bride, and silently using your eyes to ask people for money. Or touring Europe in a punk cabaret band, and finding a place to sleep each night by reaching out to strangers on Twitter. For Amanda Palmer, actions like these have gone beyond satisfying her basic needs for food and shelter – they’ve taught her how to turn strangers into friends, build communities, and discover her own giving impulses. And because she had learned how to ask, she was able to go to the world to ask for the money to make a new album and tour with it, and to raise over a million dollars in a month. In The Art of Asking, Palmer expands upon her popular TED talk to reveal how ordinary people, those of us without thousands of Twitter followers and adoring fans, can use these same principles in our own lives.”

This just sounds awesome…

amanda palmer book

There we go folks, if anyone fancies buying me one or two (hint hint Timm… Or Santa), or just a big, fat Waterstones voucher,  they would be gratefully received!

So what books are you hoping to find in your stocking on christmas morning?

Love Sam x

Patience and Recovery

Its been 17 days since my surgery and Im healing well. My wound is closed and I have no pain in it, the scar is about 6 inches long and as it was stapled together I have the line and dots of a staple scar. A friend told me that after she had surgery, her doctor told her to use any sort of natural
oil, grape seed, olive etc – that you didn’t need posh bio oils or other ‘scar healing’ lotions or potions, and to massage her scar for 10 minutes a day. The motion of massage encourages healing in the scar, it improves blood circulation and increases the collagen. She showed me her scars and they were thin white lines, barely visible. So I have taken this advice and I hope it will help mine too.

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My stoma nurse visited today, she is fantastic and answered a few questions I had. I have some soreness to my skin where the ileostomy bag sticks to my skin right at the bottom, she advised that I am carefully peeling off the top of the bag when I remove it, and then pulling it off quickly at the bottom. And yep! She was totally right, that’s what i have been doing! The enemy of anyone with a stoma is sore skin. Sore skin can become open wounds very quickly, open wounds are wet and you cannot stick a bag onto wet skin. So good skin care is vital.

Im less weepy than yesterday, I think part of my problem is that I am still tapering off the steroids and they are notorious for affecting moods and emotions. Today feels more positive but I am struggling with one thing. Patience.

Im not the most patient of people at the best of times. I can’t leave christmas presents under the tree without a good squeeze. If I hear that someone is planning something as a surprise Ill pick at them trying to get clues!

Physically I am healing well. I am still taking painkillers regularly but everything is going to plan. Im well on the road to recovery. Im doing slightly more each day, this week I had the trip shopping and last night we went out to dinner for my son’s birthday. But I feel it when I do more, I tire very quickly and feel the pain more. When I lay down at night, I ache. Im walking well now and working on my posture as I have been stooped for weeks in protection of my stomach.

But now I can do more, it is very difficult to have patience with my body. I know I have to take it really slowly, that doing too much will hinder my overall recovery and could cause problems but Im struggling!! Timm won’t let me lift a finger, he’s still doing all the cooking, cleaning, school runs plus running our business so I feel bad in not being able to help him. He tells me off and just wants me to have the proper rest and recovery. Its nice to be looked after but quite difficult to accept. Im so used to doing everything for myself so it takes a big shift in mindset to look after myself first and allow others to help.

So I try to be patient. I know I need to put trust in my body and give it time to heal and get used to the huge changes that have been made to it. Im grateful and happy that it is doing this so well! I have had no complications and everything is healing well. My stoma is functioning really well and the pain is lessening. I find that the time between painkillers is lengthening slightly. Im not watching the clock to see when I can have more which is an improvement! The body is a bloody clever thing and mine is doing a great job.

I want to get back to work as soon as I can. I run our family photography business with Timm (go check us out – The Picture Foundry) and also work with arts group Responsible Fishing and we have really exciting projects coming up, so Im looking forward to getting back in the saddle. Weirdly, I also want to do some house work – I can’t even believe Im saying that!!! Timm is doing a great job, but you know what its like, no one can do things just as you do (nor do I expect them to!!)

I really want to walk our dog Lola. I want to do some gardening. I want to sand down the piano and paint it. I want to go to the pub with friends. I want to sort out my whole wardrobe. And make all the craft projects I ever put on pinterest. I want to go pick all the apples on the trees in the garden. I want to go on a bike ride. I want to be well enough to be at my friend Corinnes birth. I really want that. I want to drive. I want to visit friends.

Patience. It’s a virtue right?

 

patience

 

I will be patient. I have to be because I need to allow myself to heal and not do anything that could set me back.

So Im doing nice things whilst I recover. I watch a lot of films on netflix, Im watching a lot of TED talks (TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design) I watch a lot of documentaries. I thought if Im sat in front of the box I can at least be learning new stuff!!

I am knitting. Im a crap knitter, I can knit squares. So Im knitting a LOT of squares that will eventually be sewn together to make a blanket.

Im reading. Im a big reader anyway but my concentration levels have been really low for a while, its nice now to be able to read more than one sentence (over and over again!) I was bought a book called The House of Leaves over ten years ago and got a third of the way through it before giving up. Its a very difficult read requiring you to flip back and forward and read things out of sync. My good friend James has just started it and has inspired me to try again with it… If you fancy reading it you can get it on Amazon.

Im blogging. Obviously as you are reading. It feels good to blog, its very cathartic for me and I can’t believe how many people are reading! Since I started in July Ive had over 10,000 views of this site – bloody hell chaps!!! Thank you!! From the bottom of my heart thank you for reading and commenting. Thank you.

Im planning our trip to Australia!!! This is a fab one. We are going to Australia via Vietnam to visit my sister, brother in law and niece in December this year, its the most exciting thing!! I was so worried about the trip before my surgery, nervous that I would have a flare up and ruin the trip, that we wouldn’t be able to do the things we wanted to do as I would be ill and need to be close to a loo. So now I have the bag, its exciting!!! There is no reason I can’t do anything everyone else can do. The only thing I need to think about it making sure I take enough bags and products that I need.

I meditate. Now don’t laugh!!! Im not ommmmming away in a corner, but I am spending ten minutes to sit and close my eyes, relax and partake in a bit of mindfulness. Its ten minutes of quiet. Ten minutes of feeling myself grounded, concentrating on my breathing and clearing my mind of everything. It makes me feel centred and calm. So don’t mock – try it… You might like it.

And I try to be patient.

Love Sam xx

The origin of faeces

Thank you to the lovely Jen of Spacedog fame for giving me the heads up on this article.  Taken from the book ‘The Origin of Faeces What Excrement tells us about evolution, ecology and a sustainable society’ by David Waltner-Toews, this picture and article is both funny and interesting!

poo and religion

 

When I began writing The Origin of Feces, after a quarter century of teaching and research on the epidemiology of zoonoses (diseases that can travel from animals to humans) and foodborne and waterborne diseases, I knew a great deal about the environmental and public health problems associated with excrement. The solutions to these problems seemed straightforward and technical. What struck me as I was doing research for the book was the profound way in which excrement is embedded in ecological (and, by extension, cultural) relationships. Here are five things I learned, which you should know, about poo.

1. No shit, no life

Before life, there was no excrement. The second that membranes enclosed biochemical reactions – that is, as soon as life was born – materials passed selectively into and out of those cells. What passed out was “waste”. Yet in that waste, nutrients and energy were recycled, and webs of life were made possible. Without faeces (in its broadest sense) life (and humanity) would not be possible.

2. Poop has a purpose

Multi-cellular animals are faced with complex issues related to their need to defecate and their own ability to reproduce. Some deer may eat the dung of their young, birds carry faecal sacs of their young from the nest and drop them into streams, and caterpillars shoot their frass far away from themselves. Still other animals, such as bushbuck and genets, use dung middens as places for inter-sexual communication. Predators often mark territory with faeces. Other species have taken advantage of some of these behaviours. Sloths create dung middens that serve to redirect predators away from their homes in the trees, and also to indicate mating sites not just for themselves; these dung piles also provide means for the moths that live in their coats to reproduce. When the sloth descends to defecate, moths living (and feeding on debris) in their coats oviposit in the dung. The larvae hatch, pupate and feed in and on the excrement. Several weeks later, moths emerge, looking for another sloth to call home.

3. Dung is delicious

Within a multi-species landscape, human and other animal behaviours that have evolved to optimise reproductive success also serve to disperse seeds and replenish landscapes. Dung beetles, for instance, which live on every continent except Antarctica, use faeces as a source of nourishment for their young; at the same time, by burying faeces in the ground, they are integrating nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements into the soils which support the plant species that feed the animals that provide food for the dung beetles. Taking an ecological view, the dung beetle is not just an organism. It is also a bundle of nutrients, information and energy: each organism, through its eating of the excrement, is an embodiment of excrement. We are, all of us, what we eat. Parasite cycles give us a rich picture of how the nutrient essence of excrement, if not its form, can move through the ecosystem from intestines of birds and mammals to the soil, to plants and insects, and back again to mammals. The parasites and their hosts and predators are, in fact, the re-embodiment of the deconstructed excrement and the life cycles of parasites of concern to public health are life cycles of excrement. The global distribution of faecal-related bacteria and parasites in food, water and wildlife (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella spp, Giardia spp, Toxoplasma spp) tells us not just about the ubiquity of hazards, but also about the webs and pathways through which the nutrients and energy in excrement are distributed globally. One implication of this is that killing off any species, however small or obnoxious, closes off certain pathways of nutrient recycling and hence will affect all of us sooner or later.

4. We are caca-conflicted

Conflicted human attitudes toward faeces have deep biological roots and reflect relationships to excrement seen throughout the animal kingdom. In evolutionary terms, positive associations with the scent of excrement may be rooted in biological urges to define territory and communicate with others, as well as the observation that food plants grow better in areas that had been manured. When human populations were mostly nomadic and when settlements were small and sparse, the positive associations with excrement outweighed whatever risks were perceived. This positive view of manure, historically reflected in a thriving commercial trade in excrement, has persisted when connections between city and countryside have been explicit and open, and in rural agricultural areas today. As we have increased our understanding of transmission of killer diseases such as cholera and childhood diarrhoea in the last few centuries, however, and as the beneficial association of flush toilets and clean bathrooms with survival has become clear, city dwellers have learned to take an unambiguously negative attitude towards shit. The shift from a positive view to a negative view is thus rooted in shifts from people living in the country to people living in cities, to a loss of connection between food producers and consumers, and to our increased scientific understanding of causes of disease.

5. Crap relationships matter

Excrement is part of what has been referred to as a “wicked” problem. The “problem” of faeces is deeply embedded in a restructured global (eco) system of livestock-rearing and trade, as well as water-based disposal systems (flush toilets and sewage treatment plants); these were developed to improve food supplies, promote health and stimulate economic prosperity. Nevertheless, the solutions to problems, while effective if viewed narrowly, also result in a depletion of potable water, and a major redistribution of water and nutrients from some ecosystems, which are thus impoverished (e.g. soy beans in Brazil), through animal and human faeces into other ecosystems, which are thus over-fertilised (particularly those where industrialised animal rearing has been selected as the solution to the “food problem”). Solutions to excrement-related public health and environmental problems call for a new understanding of the science of relationships among things (as differentiated from a science of things-in-themselves), and will only be sustainable if they account, simultaneously, for the manifold ecological and cultural webs in which they are embedded.