A dedication to bad food!

So much of our lives revolve around food (growing/buying, storing, preparing, cooking, eating) so I thought I would just write a post about all the food that we love the most….but only secretly because actually it is bad for you (and I will barely mention depression). Now I know that there are many unbelievers out there who will decry me and say that they are appalled at the thought of eating such things, but you know what, for the sake of this post I am going to presume that secretly inside they, like the rest of us, yearn to be chewing on the tastiest, fattiest morsels…yeah you know the ones, the pork crackling, the fatty edges of a lamb roast, or the skin with attached fat of Beijing Duck, Malaysian Mee Rebus made with fatty mutton so that when it is cooked the soup has a one centimeter coating of fat,… Yeah I could continue for hours covering nearly every culture, they all have these dishes and they are usually very popular, certainly the most tasty.

Please be mindful that I am not saying that these foods are good for you or that they won’t do you any harm if you do eat them, I’m just saying that I love them! I do think though that the reason many of these dishes do harm is because they are eaten out of context! How can food be eaten out of context? Well for example, we know that the indigenous people of the polar regions have an extremely high fat component to their diet and still live healthy lives. Start feeding that diet to your average city dweller and see how long they last. Therefore if you are a sofa dweller, then you probably need to eat less fatty food and for that matter eat less ‘period’. That to me is eating food in context, whereas if that sofa dweller did eat the fatty food they would be eating it out of context.

So I am a city dweller, how do I consider that I am eating my food in context? I do a lot of exercise and I vary this to some degree if I find I have been over doing it on the ‘nice’ food. I drink lots of water and I like to eat fruit whenever it is nice enough to eat. I grew up on this food and so did all the people living in the same area. As most of you would know from my “Life in the swamp” posts, I grew up in rural New Zealand, and our diet was very fat and dairy product laden – mind you there was a lot of fruit and vegetables in there as well. Fact remains our diet would not have passed any modern dietary standards. Have you ever scraped the bottom of the fry pan the morning after cooking bacon in it and spread the congealed fat on bread, added a good dose of pepper and eaten that for breakfast? No, then you really haven’t lived at all! For a time I did contract work for one of the local dairy farmers during hay making season. Days started at 7am, not that you could do anything until the moisture left the hay in the paddocks, but the farmer supplied breakfast to ensure that everyone got a decent meal because the days would be long and hard. The breakfast was a selection of bacon, chops, sausages, liver, heart, eggs, fried tomatoes and onion, toast almost soaked in butter and fried…I think you get the idea. Everyone working had to be there for the breakfast as that is when the farmer would assign tasks and explain his work plan for the day. At 10am the farmers wife would arrive in the paddock with morning tea – savories, cake, tea and coffee. Lunch was another cooked meal, etc. These people surprisingly lived long and healthy lives, their somewhat extreme eating habits were in context to the amount of work and exercise they did. On our own property, life started at 6am. We would work on our property first thing, then shower, have breakfast, then go to school. After school, we would have something to eat and then back to work until it was dinner time.

A few years back my GP checked my cholesterol and found it was “a little high”. I asked about medication and his answer surprised me to some degree as it didn’t really fit with all the advertising we see on TV (probably all paid for by the companies that make the medication). He first asked how much exercise I do which, at the time, amounted to about 15 kms a week as I would get off the bus early when going to work and walk about 3 kms. His response was “just make sure you walk at a good pace to give your heart a work out”. He then explained that those fortunate enough to have low cholesterol can be less ridged about their exercising, those like me with higher cholesterol need to do more exercise, and the higher it gets the more you need to exercise. His idea was that only those who have the situation where they eat properly, exercise regularly, but still have rising cholesterol levels need to be on medication. Could be just his theory but it works for me….

So what’s the conclusion and how does this affect my depression? The conclusion is, I love food, I love cooking and baking (my wife and I often prepare meals together), I love eating all different kinds of food, I love sharing food with others, and I love watching cooking shows that inspire fresh ideas and the need to enjoy food. Jamie Oliver (might be a bit of an over the top guy for some but inspirational food that anyone can cook), Rick Stein (his Far Eastern Odyssey series was great – my wife and I went to his restaurant here in Aus and weren’t disappointed), Kylie Kwong (great Chinese food, her series My China worth a look, this link will take to a site where you can get the recipes  – and the book is also worth the cost), Nigella Lawson (now here’s a person who knows how to eat the best bad things!), Shane Delia (did a great show called “Spice Journey” where he traced the origins of Middle Eastern food – brilliant show, good bloke – my wife and I meet him at his restaurant in Melbourne and he was just like he comes across on his show)…I could just keep going but will stop at that.

How then does all this affect my depression. Don’t know really…I just know that when I am cooking, eating, sharing food, planning meals with my wife – I don’t think about my depression whether it is a bad day or not, so that can’t be bad in my books! Happy eating….and exercising!


Anxiety and Depression – Unemployed? Retired?

Today I thought I would just add a few words about the affects of unemployment or retirement on one’s anxiety and depression – mine in particular since I can’t actually speak for anyone else.

While I was still working, I often found myself sitting with co-workers all complaining about our lot in life. It was a bit like listening to a group of sport fans talking about the umpiring of a game after their team lost, yeah the poor old umpire should have stayed in bed that day. Mind you for umpires it’s always the same because there will always be losers! I digress, anyhow inevitably the subject would come around to retirement, especially for us oldies, we would say “ah but I only have x number of months/years to go”. Over the years many of those involved in those discussions did retire, but for me rather disturbingly, many were soon back at work. Boredom, incompatibility with their mate whom they had spent most of their life away from due to work, etc, soon drove them back into the workforce.

Now for me, I found that utterly disturbing, how could you not have enough to do, how could you not want to spend time doing things with your partner? Well I have now been off work for close to twelve months, I was officially retired from 31 July 2014, and now I am looking for a job!! And I hate myself for it! For me going back to work is entirely a financial decision, if I had had the retirement pension of some of my co-workers, there is no chance I would have been looking for a job. Admittedly I am probably not your average barrel of monkeys, but I find the whole concept of going off to work abominable, I have plenty to keep me occupied, and if I didn’t, I would create something to do. The idea that you need to go and work for someone else who you will probably end up talking negatively about, who is making life stressful while making themselves rich, just doesn’t make any sense. That kind of work should only be because you have to (all my theory naturally).

Since stopping work, besides spending a month in hospital, I have spent time in the garden, building furniture, moving house, cooking, lots of walking; most of this time with my wife, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything, I just wish it could continue! I love the pressure of waking up in the morning, at a time that I decide, never being quite sure what day of the week it is, being able to take my wife to do things that she has to do without taking time off work, being able to say “I’ll cook dinner tonight” without worrying if I’ll get home from work in time, just being able to bake something when I feel like it, etc. Why would I want to change that for the monotony of a regular job?

Still here I am looking for a job! What I am not doing though is looking for a job commensurate to my experience, that would just be looking for more anxiety and depression, rather I am doing what many might consider going for the bottom. I have contacted many of the large chain stores, hardware, grocery, etc. My choice of job? Entry level, customer service, check out, help desk, etc. Hasn’t got me a job yet, probably considered ‘over qualified’ and not likely to stay long – little do they know, anyhow the point is that I don’t feel as anxious about the waiting or even the knock backs.

So where is all this heading? Well the way I see it, whether you are retired or unemployed and looking for a job, if you limit your focus or if your job search is too narrow, you increase your chances of stress and the likelihood of triggering anxiety and/or depression. If you are retired, don’t need a job for financial reasons, use your time on something more constructive where you have more say over your routine, why throw yourself back into that environment – there are plenty of community groups/programs around, and even more so if you are a mental health sufferer.

Well there you have it for what it is worth…

Job Interview Downdate

Well I was too slow giving an update on how the second interview went and now I have already got the result. The interview went well, I was quietly confident….

Today I got the result, it went something like this, “Dear John…”

I actually new as soon as I got the email that it was a fail. On Monday at the interview they said that if it was a pass you would get a phone call and fails would get an email.

So a couple of deep breaths and pretend it never happened, how will this affect the depression and anxiety! If it weren’t for the money situation I wouldn’t care at all, still maybe something better is on the way…

I have to admit though that now I understand the overwhelming ‘failure’ feeling I get when I do miss out on things, it is a great relief. I have often thought “I really don’t care about this, so why do I feel like a complete failure?” Well now I know and it really does help. It just surprises me that the feelings can run so deep.

So there you have it, I failed and to help myself get over it I have taken the best medication I can think of…spending money! My wife sent me shopping while she went to the chiropractor and already I feel better…oh the power of buying some veges, I wonder if that is a documented illness?

Life in the swamp! (5) – The old home

One of the great things about technology is Google, and in this instance, Google Maps. I often find myself getting lost in looking at places I have seen, places I want to see, etc. Today I thought I would like to show you where I spent my childhood. The first image shows our actual property divided up into how it was used by my family (I hope you can make sense of it).


The higher level is where the house is, the white dashed lines indicate how the property dropped off into the swampy area that was very prone to flooding.

The second image shows the property in relation to the mountain range that you can see in the photo under my blog title. One thing to note is that our property was on two levels.



The white dashed area follows the swamp area which followed the course of a stream. What is missing in this photo is trees, when I was growing up there, there were large areas of trees. For instance, behind our property in the swamp area there was almost a forest of willow trees, above our property in the photo there was a large area of blue gum trees, and below our property in the photo there was a large area of pine forestry. Now, it’s all gone…very sad to see what was such a beautiful landscape denuded of all the trees.

The area was predominantly a dairy farming area and our house had belonged to the factory manager of a dairy factory that had been on one of the neighboring properties in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There were only ruins remaining of the factory when I was there, but…those ruins were covered in Kiwi Fruit vines (or Chinese Gooseberries as they were known in those days). We would go there and eat for hours the fruit hanging from the vines. Then in 1973 Britain joined the EEC, New Zealand’s economy took a sharp dive (click here to read article – also listen to the song ‘Damn the dam’, nothing to do with this story but interest as are some of the other articles), England was one of their greatest trading partners, so now all exports (lamb and dairy products) to England stopped. Dairy factories closed down all over the area, and so did many dairy farms. Some farmers reinvented their farms to orchids which was ok because their climate was great for apples, peaches, etc.

It was during this period that the move to Western Australia came about as work was scarce for school leavers and my parents had four of us at school.

Job Interview Update

Well I got through stage one apparently because Monday I have to go for some kind of group work for stage two. Let’s hope that goes well. The person who interviewed me seemed happy that I knew so much about their stores and had trade experience…let’s hope that translates into a job!!

Anyhow I am writing this while having a coffee at my usual Vietnamese cafe, I was even early enough today to get my wife some wonderful pastry as a treat. I was buying them more regularly but we decided that was probably not good for our health, so now once a week it is a treat.

Oh well time to go home and mow the lawn before it gets too hot and steamy (this will do wonders for the depression)…sorry to mention warmth and heat to all you Northerners who are currently freezing…