Tag Archives: health

Beach Escape…

This afternoon, I finally managed to get down to the beach for a good solid walk, making the most of the glorious Autumn sunshine before Winter sets in, sending the sun packing off to the Northern Hemisphere. Of course,  many of you are actively trying to speed that process up. However, we Aussies are a resilient bunch. Although Daylight Savings Time officially ended this morning, we’re not letting Summer go without a fight. By the way, temperatures reached a high of 27 degrees today. Happy Days! It was actually perfect weather.

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I really needed to get to the beach today. As you might’ve read, I’m fully immersed in researching and writing my collection of biographical short-fiction. These stories are based on the numerous stories I’ve collected researching our family histories, and there’s quite a cast of characters with a vast range of tales to tell. Each story feels like a book in itself as I research the person, location and historical framework and in effect pour all these ingredients into some kind of crucible and then try to pluck out the essence. That’s what I use to write these stories. I’m not simply writing their life stories. At times, this process has almost a mystical feel, like I’m pulling a rabbit out of a hat. That’s despite the stories being meticulously researched. So, my eyes and mind are literally buzzing from loads of alt-tabbing between various sources, which is like having flashing lights flickering in my face. It can’t be good. However, now that I’ve finally found my genre and have two stories down and two on the way, there’s no holding back.

Yet, while 100% immersion and a mono focus sounds great from a writing perspective, I still need to eat, sleep, shower and make sure my kids are taken care of and get where they’re meant to be on time and on the right day. These things are falling by the wayside at the moment, and they’ll soon be directed to the microwave and the freezer and told to “insert here”.

Well, it hasn’t got to that point yet. However, this is why I consciously need to pull myself away. I can’t attach a snorkel and keep writing underwater. I need to take breaks and undertake a variety of activities, while still keeping my eye fixed on the prize.

So, it was really great to finally get back to the beach this afternoon. It was bucketing down much of last week. Then, on the other days, it was either too sunny or I’d miss the boat or I’d simply forget to go. I know that doesn’t sound very motivated, but I’m only human. I can’t juggle ten balls in the air and expect to catch them all…especially when I’ve so focused on the one! Still, I keep asking myself How hard can it be to go for a simple walk, especially when it takes in such breathtakingly beautiful scenery? What kind of idiot am I? Well, my only rationale is that even when you live in Paradise, you still need to deal with the every day.

Beach Invaders

We don’t usually get so much seaweed on our beach. I think the heavy rain last week is probably to blame. 

 

Just for your enjoyment, I lugged my massive Nikon DSLR with zoom lens along the beach and thought you’d particularly like to see some Surf Lifesaving touches. The red inflatable boat is known here as a “rubber ducky” and is used for beach rescues. Not sure if you’re familiar with the red and yellow surf lifesaving flags. These flags mark safe swimming area, which is also patrolled by the lifesavers or lifeguards. The flags are also a key feature of our Summer beaches and you might arrange to meet friends “in-between the flags”. Or, if you’re terribly short-sighted like myself, you leave your glasses and towel under a flag, ensuring you get back there before they shut up shop for the day.

While we’re touching on our local surf-lifesaving culture, we have a junior program called Nippers, where young kids gradually learn the ropes. Like all these activities, there’s a huge dropout rate as the physical demands and competitive aspects take their toll. It also takes a lot of commitment, and that also has a sense of heavy competition. Our lives are full to overflowing most of the time.

Both of our kids did Nippers for a few years, before taking up Sea Scouts and shifting their focus over to still water and in our daughter’s case, onto dance. As I am finding myself, it’s hard to maintain a diverse range of interests when you’re trying to conquer the world. Or, at least a particular field.

So, I’ll leave you with a few pics of the kids doing Nippers from years ago and you can imagine yourself down at the beach bright and early on a Sunday morning with the rest of us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share 20th May, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’m going to be a better host, and offer you a choice of coffee, tea or Bonox before we get started. I know there have been some weeks where I’ve forgotten my manners. My apologies. This week I’m going to try to be a better listener, reminding myself that I have two ears and one mouth.

So, how was your week?

Perhaps, we should come up with some kind of rating system to sum up the week. You know, the sort of thing they have on those survey questionnaires where you rate your attitude between one and ten. The trouble is, that my mind goes a bit blank by the time it’s Sunday and last Monday seems a lifetime ago.

In so many ways, it was a fantastic week.

On Monday night, my adult dances classes started up again and this term, we’re doing tap. This is the first time I’ve really done tap, other than a few classes at school. I wasn’t too sure how I’d go and wondered whether I’d go for six trying to walk in my tap shoes. I was also concerned that it would be too hard on my legs and I’d need to sit down. That was quite a realistic expectation and I was getting tired. However, fortunately we ended up shifting to the corner and taking turns, giving me a chance to rest. I really loved tap and felt almost euphoric by the end of the class. I might not be Ginger Rogers, but I extended myself out of my comfort zone and all this exercise is so good for me.

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Thai-Style Chicken Burgers.

Tuesday night, I finally summoned up my courage and I cooked the Thai-Style Chicken Burgers from Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook for dinner and her Apple Crumble Slice for dessert. They were both sensational. You can read about my efforts Here

Sometime last week, my daughter also found out that she’s been accepted into the dance stream of the selective performing arts or CAPA class at our local high school. She’s thrilled about this, as she’s really got into dance this year. It’s really become her thing. Meanwhile, she’s still waiting on the results of the selective high school test. I think it will work out either way.

Friday morning, I went to My First Yoga Class  Like the tap class, this was another tentative, new experience. Given my mobility and health issues, trying something new can be more daunting and those usual fears and concerns ramp up a bit, sometimes to the point of paralyzing panic. However, my physiotherapist had recommended this particular yoga class because it’s being taken by an occupational therapist. All of us in the class, have the same physio and it’s turning into what’s known as “adaptive yoga”. They have the same thing in other sports. It just means that its designed for people with disabilities. I loved yoga, particularly the last 15 minutes where we lay on our mats under a blanket and wearing lavender scented eye-masks and falling into a deep state of relaxation. I had such a glowing sense of well-being at the end. Needless to say, I’ll be back next week.

In between all these upbeat happenings, I’ve steadily been reorganizing our home. A few months ago, I received a government assistance package for people with disabilities called the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). In addition to receiving occupational therapy and physio at home, I also get  7 hours of cleaning and a mentor for 7 hours. So far, we’ve been focusing on reorganizing and getting rid of stuff. I don’t know quite how I feel about all of this. There a lot of stuff to process and you have to decide what you’re going to do with each and every item, which becomes quite draining after awhile. The other problem is that you pull all this stuff out of nooks and crannies, but it doesn’t seem to fit back in. Inevitably, I’m left with huge mounds of stuff and need some kind of compacting system…something like the station guards on Japanese bullet trains who heave commuters into the train. Today, I just wanted to move a book shelf about 40 cm to the left, but because I needed to empty everything out of it, it became a massive and really quite overwhelming job. Both our kitchen table and another large foldout table were both piled with books. Indeed, I had enough books left over after I’d filled the bookshelves to fill another book case. Unfortunately, I’ve only found about ten I can part with.

My son did offer to burn the extra books. I told him that burning books was a crime and you could be sent to jail. He’s 13 now and he knew better, but I almost got him.

Clothes Horse

Clothes Horse??

I also had a run in with an Obstinate Clothes Horse

By the way, last week I mentioned that I’d taken our son to Emergency with weird symptoms. Thanks for your concern and best wishes. He seems to be doing quite well and doctors are suspecting migraine aura, without the accompanying headache. Still, that generated medical appointments with more to come just to be sure. Next week I also have an appointment with my rheumatologist in Sydney. So, there’s another day gone.

I am starting to feel quite conflicted by the amount of time which is going into sorting the house versus do my writing and research. While I was happy to put them aside short term, getting the house sorted is turning into a long term, intensive project and almost a full time job. While I want the whole family to become more organised and sorted, it does come at a cost to me. I am now conjuring up ways to get the kids to do more. Kids seem to be rather pampered these days, and have taken to enslaving their parents.  I’m now needing to turn the tables a bit. Get us all working together as a team, when none of us is exactly what you’d call team players. We seem to operate better as Lone Rangers.

Kings Cross

Kings Cross’s Famous Coca Cola sign viewed from the Sydney Tower Eye.

By the way, I also wrote a flash for Friday Fictioneers. Every week, I marvel at what enters my brain for these challenges. It’s always such a long way from my everyday life in  an Australian beach town. This week’s was Missing: Kings Cross, Sydney.

Hope you’ve had a great weekend. It’s now Sunday night here and I’m heading off to find something for dessert. Sweet Week on Masterchef starts in ten minutes. My laptop could well be in danger as I drool at the screen.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Ally over at Nerd In The Brain. You can click on the linky and I hope you’ll join us.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yummy Marshmallow Mud Toastie.

Easter is the perfect time for experimenting with marshmallows and chocolate. The oozier the better.

While I’m not sure whether Isaac Newton would agree, that placing marshmallows and chocolate in between two slices of brioche and applying heat and pressure constitutes a scientific experiment.

However, although he’s obviously not around to ask, I’m sure he’d be licking his fingers and declaring the results: “scrumidillyumptious”!

As for myself, I concluded that further experimentation is required.

marshmallow mud toastie

Ingredients

2 slices of brioche loaf (I get mine from Aldi)

Chocolate (I chose Cadbury Dairy Milk)

Marshmallows (I chose pink).

Here are the Basic Directions:

Place a single slice of brioche in the sandwich press for each person.

Arrange pink marshmallows and your choice of chocolate as desired on top of the brioche. You will observe in the photo below that I prefer a rather oozy, messy outcome. On the other hand, our daughter wanted to minimise the ooze and even placed hers in the fridge for a bit to firm it up a bit.

Cover with a second slice of Brioche (the lid) and close the sandwich press.

Remove toastie using lifter when golden brown and contents have melted. Watch out for hot melted contents  and the risk of burns.

I started out by simply melting Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate in between two slices of brioche.

That was just begging for a few marshmallows.

Finding that combination rather sweet, I added a few blueberries for a bit of tang.

I’m now planning to try a rocky road version with nuts and glace cherries to balance out the very sweet chocolate and marshmallows.

Personally, I can see the Marshmallow Mud Toastie satisfying those late night chocolate cravings without creating a huge mess.

Well, let’s just say the mess is contained to your face and fingers.

Of course, I understand that these innocent  Marshmallow Mud Toasties will have their critics. That puritanical do-gooder wowsers, will shoot them down. Slam their insane sugar and calorie content and the evils of “food therapy”.

However, personally I believe scoffing one of these oozy treats, is a hell of a lot better for you than some other cures for depression or a rough trot.

Therefore, I don’t believe I’m stretching the truth too far, to say these scrummy treats are actually “healthy”.

What do you think?

xx Rowena

 

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“Healthy” is all a matter of perspective and while they have their critics, retail and food therapy can be a lot better for you than some of the alternatives.

Thou Shalt Get Walking!

After weeks of torrential flooding rain, the damn sun came out today and dried up all my excuses.

That meant, that I finally had to get outside and do “the 20 minute walk”.

Even if you barely know me at all, you’d know that I’m not the sort of person who goes timing their activities without some kind of outside intervention.

Enter the physio.

After two weeks on the “ten minute walk”, I’ve progressed to the “twenty minute walk” and while this should’ve generated that warm glow of achievement, it also pressed the panic button… just a little.

You see, doubling the distance, also meant twice as much opportunity for DISASTER!!

This wasn’t just anxiety speaking either. My tripping and crash-landing abilities are  legendary! Indeed, only two weeks ago, yours truly swan-dived right outside the test centre where my daughter was sitting for the illustrious Selective Schools’ Test. Of all the times to have a fall, this came pretty close to  being the worst. That said, at least I had loads of help getting back up.

So, this is why I was a bit wary of going for a 20 minute walk all by myself, even if it was a beautiful sunny day and the beach was calling. Our local footpaths are so bumpy, cracked and overgrown that they’ve become ridiculously rustic, death traps. You don’t even need to be accident-prone to fall.

However, being accountable for my exercise and needing to tick the all-important box on my exercise plan, magically propelled me out of the couch and onto the footpath.

First, however, I recruited Mummy’s Little Helper to act as walk buddy. This was not only so she could not only call 000 in the event of emergency, but also so we could also take the dogs for a walk. Miss took Lady, while I took a much stronger Bilbo and off we went….Miss telling Lady to stop sniffing and keep walking. Their pace helped to propel Bilbo along, although Miss did observe him trying to sniff every single tree and post along the way!

That reminded me of a couple of old dog jokes:

What’s the definition of torture?

A dog in a desert with no trees.

What’s the definition of confusion?

A dog in a desert with two trees.

However, Bilbo didn’t have the luxury of any lingering sniffs. That’s because he too was under the physiotherapist’s regime. The goal, or should I say the prescription, was 20 minutes of brisk walking, which is going to boost your heart rate and build a sweat. Obviously, this is not  a leisurely stroll smelling the roses…or anything else!

Bilbo staring out to sea

Bilbo…  who is either admiring the view or contemplating why he can’t smell the roses anymore.

By the way, the idea behind the 20 minute walk is to do a 20 minute walk…no more, no less. It aims to create frequency by surreptitiously sneaking into your daily routine, so you almost don’t realise it’s there. As if!

So what’s motivating my walks:

  • Increasingly the number of steps and kilometres on the health app on my phone. I have found this very encouraging and motivating….both when the results are positive and negative. You find out what you’re capable of and when your steps are low for the day, it encourages you to get back out there. Keep moving. Worth noting, though, that you do need to walk around with your phone to get accurate results. If you feel like cheating, you could also attach the phone to the dog, but you’d only be cheating yourself.
  • Increased fitness and strength leading to greater endurance.
  • Exercise helps prevent chest infections and improves lung health, which is critical for me!
  • Exercise & sunshine boosts your endorphins boosting your mood.
  • Enjoying the beautiful outdoors and spreading my wings by getting out of the house.
  • Running into friends on my walks.
  • Possibility of losing weight.

Before I head off, I’d like to exercise my bragging rights. Although I was feeling that a 20 minute walk was going to do me in today, by the time we reached the beach, we felt like talking the dogs down to the off-leash, dog section of the beach. I lost track of how long we walked for  but it was probably more like an hour. We ended up walking for 3.5km and reached 5,600 steps. This was a vast improvement on 824 steps on Friday and 2,650 steps on Thursday.

So, I deserve a huge pat on the back and my daughter gets a huge thanks…both from me and the dogs!

I thought you might find my walking progress encouraging and that if you’re having trouble getting started or sticking with it, that you can do it. We can do it. Please keep me posted on your progress.

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share May 15, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share,

If we were having coffee, I’d actually suggest we trade the coffee in for a couple of bottles of water and head down to the beach with my dogs.  Not that I’m a health freak but it truly is magnificent down there and it’s too easy to take it for granted. Sit inside and write my days away without stepping outside beyond my responsibilities as Driver in Chief of Mum’s Taxi.

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Lady and Bilbo

Shame we didn’t catch up yesterday when it was a gloriously sunny day. It could have been a mild Summer’s day, if someone didn’t turn off the lights around 5.00PM and the sun mysteriously disappeared from the sky. By day, we’re still getting around in T shirts but you’re getting no complaints from me…just the rag trade which is now crying poor. As yet, there’s been no need for sleeves let alone jumpers.

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

Last Monday, I posted my Reflections of the A-Z Challenge. This includes a full list of all my posts. I have pasted of these into a document I’ve labelled “DRAFT” and the final word count reached a staggering 66, 652 words. I started writing and researching the posts two weeks before it kicked off. So, I almost combusted getting through it and I’m thrilled with the results:  Letters to dead Poets: Reflections of the A-Z Challenge 2016

Emotionally speaking, the last week was a bit challenging. I found a lump on my arm recently and deciding it was too weird to explain to my GP, I put it off until last week and I’m having an ultrasound done tomorrow. I’ve had to wait a week for the appointment and that has probably stressed me out more than what the lump might be. I don’t like not knowing and I sort of figure that whatever it is, the sooner I find out the better. So far, my doctors have had so many tricks up their sleeve, that I’m quitely confident but I’m not beyond letting my mind wander. Ten years ago, this would have freaked me out completely but I’m pretty chilled. Well, maybe.

I am a bit concerned and I’ve minimised and catastrophised things in my head and there’s no point going either way until I know.

However, battling against this waiting game, the sense of limbo, could well explain why I’ve spent the last week delving back into my family history research. I’ve been  pursuing my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Gardiner/Gardner for some time without any sign of working out who his parents were or where they came from. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some convict blood and William tried to cover his tracks. Being a non-indigenous Australian, he had to come from somewhere.

So, instead of getting stroppy with or about the lump in my arm this week, I’ve been taking it out on William, whose only known crime was leaving his parents off his marriage certificate, which was fairly common at the time.

Understandibly, after being a recluse during the A-Z Challenge and reaching a dead end with William Henry, I needed to get out. So, today I went to the local markets with my husband, which gave me an unexpected  boost. We met such an interesting cast of characters all over a painting I found of a mediterranean scene. The RHS was fairly full while the left hand side had a lot of empty sea. As a photographer, I instinctively wanted to crop 10cm off, which seemed a waste of space. The lady who owned the store was busy with another customer so a lady from the store next door stepped in and then my husband joined in and he started talking about “balance”. Then, the lady grabs a guy walking past who turns out to be an artist. She asks him if he thinks it’s balanced. He replies that as an impressionist, he “knows nothing about balance”. I liked that.

Hearing him talk about impressionism in art, made me consider that I am perhaps a bit impressionistic as a writer. Or, perhaps it’s just my perceptions. I see a lot of separate images or scenes, which don’t seem to fit together into a unified whole. When I ask why is it so, the pieces don’t obligingly line up into some kind of organised row like an English queue. Yet, they’re perhaps not all over the place either. I’ve simply had to accept that things aren’t always logical or fit together in an obligingly simple pattern and that is what we need to learn to accept. That is, instead of trying to bend nature to get what we think we want when we’re really swimming against the tide.

I’m sure life was a lot simpler when I didn’t ask so many questions and I just sat still with what I thought I knew.

At least, I thought I knew who William Henry Gardiner was and I even have a photo.

Well, it’s getting late here so I’m going to head off. Another week is about to unfold and I’m seriously not prepared. However, how can you be prepared for the unexpected other than to be prepared to be unprepared.

Indeed, perhaps that’s why we’ve been given a smile.

Anyway, how was your week? I hope it was good.

This has been a contribution to the Weekly Weekend Coffee Share. Please here click to visit the linky and join us all for a coffee.

xx Rowena

 

 

Y-Sailing To Byzantium, William Butler Yeats: #atozchallenge.

Sailing To Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon‐falls, the mackerel‐crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

Byzantium

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing‐masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

William Butler Yeats

Through the use of various poetic techniques, Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium” describes the metaphorical journey of a man pursuing his own vision of eternal life as well as his conception of paradise.

Written in 1926 (when Yeats was 60 or 61), “Sailing to Byzantium” is Yeats’ definitive statement about the agony of old age and the imaginative and spiritual work required to remain a vital individual even when the heart is “fastened to a dying animal” (the body). Yeats’s solution is to leave the country of the young and travel to Byzantium, where the sages in the city’s famous gold mosaics could become the “singing-masters” of his soul. He hopes the sages will appear in fire and take him away from his body into an existence outside time, where, like a great work of art, he could exist in “the artifice of eternity.” In the final stanza of the poem, he declares that once he is out of his body he will never again appear in the form of a natural thing; rather, he will become a golden bird, sitting on a golden tree, singing of the past (“what is past”), the present (that which is “passing”), and the future (that which is “to come”).

Interpretation

Yeats wrote in a draft script for a 1931 BBC broadcast:

I am trying to write about the state of my soul, for it is right for an old man to make his soul, and some of my thoughts about that subject I have put into a poem called ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. When Irishmen were illuminating the Book of Kells, and making the jeweled croziers in the National Museum, Byzantium was the centre of European civilization and the source of its spiritual philosophy, so I symbolize the search for the spiritual life by a journey to that city.[1]”

Wikipaedia

The Itis…Monster Flash Fiction.

Neither awake nor asleep, she could hear his gravelly voice huffing in her ear: “I’m going to get you!”

She knew that voice too well and flinched. His grotesque form leaning over her bed, she could almost feel his fingertips touching her skin. With the stench of rotting flesh, this monstrous beast came from the very pits of hell.

Trembling, she shrank into a very tight ball.

No! She was still determined to get the bastard. Wring his neck. Finally, destroy the beast.

But there was nothing there.

No monster to slay with her almighty sword.

Yet, there was!

Rowena Newton March 13, 2016.

March 9, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a monster story. You can pick any perspective, even that of the monster. It can be literal or symbolic; it can be heroic or realistic. Think about the shifting roles of what is a monster and who is a monster-slayer. Consider how easily we give the label to others or to fears we can’t name.

 ……

itis: Suffix meaning inflammation.

On the 22nd August, 2007, I was diagnosed with a severe, life-threatening auto-immune disease called dermatomyositis. You can just imagine being diagnosed with something like that. The word itself is bad enough and it took me at least a month to pronounce it let alone spell it. However, the disease itself was far worse. It took 18 months to correctly diagnose after boarding a horrifically intense, medical merry-go-round.

It is hard to believe that someone who is still walking around and indeed still breathing, could have been so debilitated. Most of my muscles had wasted away and I needed help getting dressed and even pulling my blankets over me at night. Yet, I was also mother full time to a toddler and a baby not to mention the crazy afore mentioned Old English Sheepdog, who morphed into an energetic Border Collie pup somewhere along the way.

Newton Family & bilbo

A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007. This was 3 months before my diagnosis and despite how I appear in the photo, I was already very ill.

Six weeks before my diagnosis, I tripped over at home and much to my horror couldn’t get up at all. This wasn’t due to injury. Rather, I didn’t have the muscles left to get myself up. The disease had gobbled them up. I rang my husband at work, over two hour’s away. We didn’t even discuss getting an ambulance. He suggested using a chair to lever myself up and when that worked, I simply got on with it. That said, we gave a friend our front door key and tried to spend us much time as we could with my Mum. Our home became the most terrifying place in the world for me.

Dermatomyositis can be difficult to diagnose and yet I had these distinctive tell tale red stripes across my knuckles, which are known as “rainbow hands”. Early on, I received a false negative on a blood test and once you eliminate what you’ve got, you’re in considerable strife. My uncle who is a dermatologist, ended up diagnosing it at my cousin’s wedding. I was obviously severely ill and while I was sort of thrilled at the instant weight loss, I suspected something sinister. Just getting in and out of chairs was murder. Even in that dark, ambient lighting my uncle recognised those rainbow stripes on my hands and was on the phone the next day. Three days later he had results and an urgent appointment with the Professor of Rheumatology at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. He told me to take my toothbrush as I wouldn’t be coming home. Two and a half weeks later, I left hospital in an ambulance bound for rehab for 6 weeks.

The kids went to stay with my parents. Mister was 3.5 and Miss was only 18 months and still breastfeeding.

This wasn’t the case of the kids having a holiday with their grandparents. It was incredibly traumatic and even though I knew I was very ill at the time, I was later told that I didn’t appreciate just how sick I was and that they’ve lost patients at that point before. The long delay in my diagnosis had almost been catastrophic.

I still remember Mister asking me: “Mummy better?” with his big brown eyes and blond curls and saying nothing. We didn’t know. Our son’s development froze for a good six months after that. He stopped doing a lot of things he’d been able to do and regressed. He also got very angry with me. He wanted his old Mum back and how was he supposed to understand and accept what we couldn’t?!!

Before this all came about, when I used to think of monsters, I used to think of baddies lurking in dark alleyways or public toilets grabbing me by the throat. I never thought that the greatest, most terrifying monster I would ever face, would be inside myself. Indeed, the very problem with any auto-immune disease is that it’s your body attacking itself.

The monster is inside you.

Now, that does make things tricky, doesn’t it?!!

You are not your disease and yet it lives inside your body and your cells start attacking each other, themselves. Yet, it’s not you…whatever!!

That’s starting to sound like one of those brain busting conundrums.

My brain hurts. How about yours?

Time for a good old-fashioned cup of tea!

xx Rowena

 

Cafe au Chocolat!

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

I hope you’ve had a great week and your sweet tooth is activated. The word for this week is chocolate. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! I know most self-appointed health gurus don’t class chocolate as a super food. However,that just goes to show they’re a bunch of quacks. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the ultimate super food. Indeed, super duper!

So, I hope you’re not on a diet. Even just reading this post, will pile on the kilos.

Our first stop is Max Brenner’s. Yummy! Max Brenner’s is a chocolate shop and cafe where chocolate seemingly oozes out of every nook and cranny and you could almost think you were in Wonkaland. I’m not sure whether I’d call death by chocolate a particular fantasy of mine but you could easily die a chocolate death in there, squeezing in mouthful after mouthful until ultimately exploding into a chocolate fountain.   Dare I mention Monty Python’s Mr Creasote  (who I must say I’ve mentioned half a dozen times on my blog)? That thought definitely puts an abrupt end to all my chocolate fantasies.

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Belgian Waffles at Max Brenner’s AKA Heaven.

When my cappuccino arrived, it was drizzled with luscious milk chocolate which I indulgently scooped up with the foam. Oooh it was good!!! Then, my Belgian Waffle arrived. Fortunately, it had a side-serve of lush fresh strawberries, just to create an illusion of health…too bad about the cream!

Although I’m shamelessly hedonistic at times, I must admit that I did feel a tad guilty indulging in Max Brenner’s alone. I’ve usually been there with Geoff in the past as a special treat. Instead, while he was slaving away at work,I was practically having an affair with this chocolate treat I had somehow managed to call “lunch”.

Yes, I can be absolutely shameless at times!

However, as if that wasn’t bad enough, on the way to my daughter’s doctor’s appointment, we stopped off at a French chocolate shop in West Pymble, Otello, which includes Du Plessy Praline. This inclusion is very important as its the chocolate shop I visited as I child every Easter, absolutely spellbound by the chocolate Easter rabbits. I don’t know the story behind the molds. The designs had to be French and I could have been skipping through the French countryside chasing the chocolate Easter bunnies. That is, if I wasn’t living in Sydney.

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My visit to Du Plessy’s triggered a creative frenzy. Exactly 10 years ago, Mum, the kids and I had visited Du Plessy’s just after my son had had his very first hair cut. He was 2 and our daughter was only 10 weeks old. Due to the haircut, I had my camera with me and while travelling down memory lane chatting with “Madame”, I plucked up the courage to ask her if I could photograph the kids in the shop. She agreed.

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Little Man and the chocolate.

So, while I was in the shop, I offered to email them through. While I was sending them, I saw the photos through very different eyes. I had forgotten that Madame had given our son a couple of chocolates while we were there. That doesn’t sound like anything special and yet it was. I don’t remember her giving us chocolates as children and these were special chocolates at that!!  It was also quite a risk too giving a two year old chocolate. I don’t need to describe chocolate spread all over a little face and hands. We’ve all seen it. The shop was the epitome of elegance…a look but don’t touch place and here she was risking an out-of-control chocolate terror leaving hand prints all over her shop. In retrospect, this was definitely a case of “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” Yet, she didn’t seem to mind. All these twists and turns of memory culminated in Le Petit Chocolat.

Anyway, I left Otello with a gift of chocolate hearts. A gift in anticipation of the photos and so I made sure I dispatched them before I forgot!! Eating too much chocolate isn’t my only bad habit!!

By the way, my daughter’s trip to the ENT specialist went well. The vocal nodules have gone. Hallelujah! Excellent news! Need to follow up with the speech therapist but it’s a real relief.

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Sydney opera House viewed from Kirribilli.

Last Monday, I caught the train down to Kirribilli again to see the dentist. We are getting to know each other too well. I have been experiencing sensitivity and while this might be a great quality for a poet, it’s not an endearing quality in a tooth. Due to my complex medical issues or perhaps it’s just me, sorting the issue out is not straight-forward but my dentist, bless his soul, is persevering.

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Ironically,these train trips have been very productive. What with a 1.5 hour trip each way, that’s a lot of reading, writing and more writing.

When I’m done, I wander around Kirribilli or even catch a ferry into the city before I come home. This time I walked down to the Harbour through Bradfield Park admiring the massive pylons which look like they’re holding up the Sydney Harbour Bridge but are purely decorative.My walk coincided with lunchtime at a local boys’ school and the boys flooded out onto the narrow streets lining with Victorian terraces. That’s when I saw a soccer ball whoosh past me followed by a gang of legs. That took me quite aback. Seeing young boys playing soccer in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge , flanked by those huge granite pylons just seemed absolutely timeless, like they’ve always been there.

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A bit too popular- names carved into a Moreton Bay Fig Tree, Kirribilli.

Speaking of things which has seemingly always been there but not, I was entranced by a Morton Bay Fig Tree, which had initials and all sorts carved all over its trunk. It looked cruel, disrespectful in a way and yet they told stories and bore testimony to some of what the tree has seen and been a part of. There were so many untold stories!

As for Mister and his poetry efforts, he is going from strength to strength. You may recall that he is having to write poetry for his English assignments. After launching himself with Through My Window, he has moved on to Haiku. He had to write 5 and I didn’t actually see most of them before they went but they were looking good.One I found particularly profound: Roses Aren’t Blue

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This frog looks like it’s eaten way too much chocolate or has a tooth ache.

All this Haiku writing was quite contagious and the house converted into a Haiku laboratory of sorts in between distractions (Grr! Minecraft!!!) He needed to write a series of four Haiku about the seasons. Rather than writing about what the four seasons are like overseas, Mister wanted to write about what they are like here. However, while this is fabulously patriotic, it’s a little hard to write about four seasons when you don’t have them. At least, not in the conventional sense.

Anyway, I wrote a series of Haiku about all four seasons at our beach: Haiku for Four Seasons

Last week, I participated in Charlie’s Flash Fiction challenge again. I don’t usually write a lot of fiction and was initially sceptical about the effectiveness of writing flash but am now a real convert.

Last week’s prompt was “Galloping”. I wrote  the Galloping Little Man the Galloping Little Man who breaks free from his mother’s grasp and goes running down the aisle at Church squealing “Gallop! It’s quite interesting to read this alongside “Le Petit Chocolat” to think about how adults respond to young children.

This coming week, our son celebrates his 12th Birthday. Now, there’s only one more year until he becomes a teenager. However, as he’s already started high school, I think he’s had a bit of a head start.

Anyway, I think that about sums up last week. Hope you had a great week and thanks for stopping by!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster Part-Time Monster. Here’s the linky.

xx Rowena

David Bowie: Palliative Care Doctor Writes Letter

So much has been said about David Bowie since his recent death, that I didn’t think I had anything to add. While I certainly loved his music and associate Heroes, Ziggy Stardust and Space Oddity with my inimitable years at university, there were people who lived and breathed his music and philosophies far, far more than I. I was more of a by-stander simply listening to his music in the bar.

However, I been intrigued by how people have reacted to David Bowie’s death and how the death of a 69 year old man who has lead an incredible life could be perceived as a tragic loss, when sooner or later we all die. No one is immortal, not even Bowie. That said,  I am starting to wonder about HRH Queen Elizabeth. I’m sure the not so young Prince Charles must be wondering as well.

Anyway, in my usual manner of meandering through Google late at night like a blindfolded goat eternally sipping on that last cup of decaf tea, I stumbled across a tweet by Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son. Duncan didn’t comment directly, but retweeted a link posted by the Marie Curie organisation to a letter from Dr. Mark Taubert, who wrote about how Bowie’s private cancer battle helped him ease the concerns of a dying patient.

A thank you letter to David Bowie from a palliative care doctor. http://bit.ly/1J73U4d  – thanks for sharing @DrMarkTaubert

 

Here’s a link to the letter.

For anyone living with a chronic or terminal illness, this letter raises some pertinent issues and gets you thinking.Then again, life has been described as a terminal disease and these issues are something for everyone to consider.

I didn’t know David Bowie personally or even from the perspective of analyzing and internalising his music and the meaning of his lyrics. I haven’t listened  to his last album either but it does sound like an effort to help people face their own deaths with less fear. He will be with them through to their very end, as well as his own.

Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to die? Is there eternal life or do we suddenly stop…reach the end? I can’t imagine being nothing. Not existing. Can’t really imagine being a spirit either although I’d rather fancy being an angel so I could park myself back in my old chair at home and watch over the family. I might even be more use as an angel. Who knows?

Well, now Bowie does. He’s “up there floating in his tin can, far above the world”.

We’ve always known that he’s had the answers and I guess that’s why so many of us lament his passing. We still have too many questions without answers and now that the great Ziggy Stardust has gone, who is going to answer them?

Who knows?

As much as people lament Bowie’s passing, it won’t take long for someone to fill his shoes.

Anyway, I’m going to leave the last word to astronaut Chris Hadfield who sang a variation of  Space Oddity on the Mir Space Station:

Something to think about…

xx Rowena