Thursday 20th June 2019

Newcastle Writers Festival. 40/2019.

Newcastle Writers Festival. 40/2019.

When I lived in Sydney I went to a few Sydney Writers Festivals when they were still located at The Wharves down by the Harbour. It was often on a warm May Saturday I attended and soaked up sunshine, wisps of words from those who chatted along with their companions and took my seat in the theatre or section to listen to authors. I saw quite a few and even got some selfies back then as well.

Now, I live closer to Newcastle than Sydney so it made sense to consider attending the ‘Newy’ festival and even better when I saw who I could book a seat to listen to and ‘get a selfie’ with.

On Sunday 7th April it was a beautifully warm day in Newcastle and I took the chance to learn more about the city as I found the parking situation better this time.

I met my friend first. She had already had a coffee so that would wait for me. We hadn’t seen each other for years and had quite a bit to catch up on. Lisa is one of the ‘old school bloggers’ I first met in 2011!

 

Session One.

Rick Morton. OK. He too is someone I have known since 2011 (the first Bloggers’ Conference) and I have followed his career as a journo and writer since. In fact, he interviewed me for a story in the Australian about “Grandparents Caring for Grandkids”. That was in 2014. Now, he has written a best-seller.

His story.

Wow. The tales he tells are true. His talk sure was impactful. His book is One Hundred Years of Dirt. It has been re-printed over and over. Now I can listen to him narrate his story on Audible. Thanks Rick for our extra long chat and connecting me to your Mum Deb. Do read Rick’s book!

Intermission.

There were no sessions I wanted to attend until after lunch. So, this meant I got time to meet this man, Trent Dalton. The author who, on Instagram, convinced me to continue listening to Boy Swallows Universe when I found it a bit unsavoury. He said: “Denyse, stick with it, it IS a love story, I promise you will love it.”.

He was right. It is. I did. I had to tell him! I lined up, not with a book to sign (it was at home) but to introduce myself. He was chuffed to meet me and so self-effacing. A lovely man. Please, if you have not, read or listen to Boy Swallows Universe.

Then Lisa and I caught up again over: lunch for her, morning tea for me.

Session Two.

After Lisa left, I walked around the Civic area and park trying to stay cool as the day’s temperature rose to over 30. Once I had a bit of a rest under a 100 year old tree, I made my way back to the Main Civic Hall where my friend Jane Caro was interviewed about Accidental Feminists. Her latest book. I took notes. I learned a lot about myself (because I am a bit older than Jane) via her life experiences. Interesting alright! Do buy or borrow the book.

Jane was so kind in between sessions when she agreed to a quick photo telling me “You look amazing”. Jane is a FB friend and knew about the oral cancer.

Summing Up.

It was a big day out for me. A first really since way before cancer but it was so good for  me to do this. I loved it and will certainly be going in 2020 if some of my fave authors are part of the program.

Do you go to Writers festivals?

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Wednesday’s Midlife Share The Love linky,

With Leanne on Thursday for Lovin Life link up here

AND with Alicia on Fridays for Open Slather here.

Thank you all for your link ups.

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Quick Meal Ideas. 43/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.108.

Quick Meal Ideas. 43/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.108.

There is so much on-line about “quick meal ideas” which anyone can access, along with some new to me ideas such as pre-planned meals and incredients that you can order on-line & have delivered each week. Then of course there is ‘take-away’ as we in Australia call it. However, I see that you can order this via an Uber thingy too. And around here, Red Rooster delivers.

My post is about none of those.

I am offering what helps ME get by these days – after cancer in my mouth & living a retirement life for two.

My husband has some health issues which prevent him eating large meals for dinner and we occasionally eat the same meals but he is a very early diner, at 5 p.m. and I prefer around 6.p.m. so socially we miss out on that connection with food.

We do, on occasion have a main meal together which is not a ‘quick meal’ but more like a baked dinner or chicken schnitzel or lamb cutlets.

My Quick Meals.

I am someone who began freezing meals in bulk when I was teaching full-time and when we lived in isolated parts of N.S.W. as teachers. Fresh ingredients did not come too often, so we made do with what we could freeze or have dried versions (Deb mashed potato and surprise peas, anyone? No? I agree).

I prefer a bake a lot, then freeze in batches and here are some of my examples.

Sweet & Sour Chicken On Rice.

I use chicken fillet and cook up bite sized pieces (when I had no upper teeth, I used chicken mince) then I add Kanton Sweet and Sour Cooking Sauce with Pineapple, and when all cooked together, put it on a small bed of rice (see the packetI always have in my pantry) and freeze in small meal-sized for me containers:

Spaghetti Bolognaise.

Yes this was my go-to meal for around 12 months but I have become sick of it. However, it fitted the bill for health (iron in red meat). I use good quality minced beef, a range of pasta sauces including passata and cook thin spaghetti to go with it. Again, once cooked, this becomes mini meals for moi, with some tasty cheese on top.

My Fried Rice.

I call it this because I adapted it from a recipe long ago. All I need is one or two of the rice above, 2 eggs, some packet or shaved ham, shallots or chopped onion. First, beat egg, make as an omelette, then when cooked in pan, remove, and add diced ham and shallots to fry up, add cooked rice then diced egg to mix on hot stove, and once all together, add soy sauce to taste. Keep moving it around. You can add more veges to it or some cooked chicken as well. It is a meal in itself that way. Freezes very well.

Meal Ingredients or  Made Then Frozen.

I make up small zip lock bags with steak in each so only one has to be taken out if that is a preferred meal.

I do the same with chicken breast, cut it uncooked into strips, and only bring out what I need.

Recently I made mini meatloaves from 3 types of minced meat (beef, lamb & turkey) added a packet of rainbow slaw, egg and tomato sauce and then added the mix to patty cake pans. These were on the way out…so this became ‘the last thing I cooked in them. I add barbecue sauce to the top of each ‘patty’ and some grated cheese, and whack in the oven. Keeping an eye on them, the meat cooks well, and I freeze 4 in a small bag for use with veges, or cut it up for sandwich or mini burger.

That is a wrap for me, on quick meal idea…what about yours?

Denyse.

Today I link with Alicia here: for Open Slather and Kel here for Mummy Mondays. Do visit them too and link up!

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 44/52. I Want This. 29/10/18.

 


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My 2017 in 365 seconds. 2018.2.

My 2017 in 365 seconds. 2018.2.

Those who know me well – on-line and off – know that making memories via photography is something I LOVE to do!

Last year, 2017, was 365 days filled with emotions, memories, experiences, challenges, love, sadness, creativity in between boredom, activity and fun. Does that sound like your year too?

I always have my iphone close by for memory-making and connecting too. So, when I came upon an app called 1SecondEveryDay I was “IN”.

So, the end product here is over 5 minutes long and whilst I loved looking back you may not and that’s OK. I couldn’t load it fully onto my facebook page of instagram so a friend suggested here.

I made it into a Youtube clip and here it is. No musical accompaniment here. Some sounds were captured: for one second!

Mostly visuals.

Happy Viewing!

Denyse.

Happy 2018 to my friend and blogger Leanne here sharing her Lovin’ Life Linky.


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Courage, Exposure Challenges & Me. Part Two. 2017.112.

Courage, Exposure Challenges & Me. Part Two. 2017.112.

Last week I wrote Part One here. Thank you to those who responded both with understanding and familiarity. I loved reading your comments.

April turns into May 2017.

This was a good time in my life as I relished the fact that I had achieved something pretty major for me. I had come through the dental extractions and subsequent follow up, been to see my Dad in Sydney and told myself that I was doing well. Confidence grew somewhat. It was good. BUT. There has to be a but as things were not going right in terms of what the dentist and I had hoped once the front teeth were removed. The gums were worsening. In the 5 weeks of recovering I did all I was told to do, I mouth-washed and took care as I knew I should after a major extraction. But I knew things were not good. Yet no-one could actually work out what it was even with this visit to my GP and then scans and X-rays and a return visit to the dentist then the oral surgeon. The full story is here. I will continue the topic for this post which is about how I used courage and challenges to get me through. 

These photos are some I took as I reflected on the news that I had cancer in my gums Whilst I was not surprised to know there was something sinister wrong, I still had many times of ‘shock’. Anyway, it seems that I did know best how to care for me and going out and about into nature helped.

Diagnosis and Consultations.

Diagnosis on 17th May in the morning, appointment with the Head and Neck surgeons the next day and ….O.M.G. from me. How will I do this? I need to have some help. On the afternoon of 17th May our lovely (and somewhat shocked by my news GP) reassured me that I should ‘take the valium, the immodium, put the headphones on…you can do it’. The travel to Sydney with my husband driving had, interestingly enough, escalated my fears about IBS and travel MORE than having been told I had cancer. I know. I think about this a lot.

BUT. I did it. How? Exactly as the doctor said and using my knowledge that this HAD to be done and my husband assured me of his driving and preparation to stop at any time I needed to. He was brilliant. I used my hypnotherapy on my iPhone via my ear buds and closed my eyes and we stopped at 4 loo stops on the afternoon of travel. I was OK. NO I.B.S. either.

The story of what happened following that day and visiting the dental clinic in Westmead  is also here.

Blogging Really Helped Me Voice My Fears Too. June to July 2017.

To continue to prepare myself for what was ahead once surgery was confirmed I did a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios which might be silly for some people but for me they gave me information and prediction. Rather than me doing guess work I had more formed and experienced views. My confidence that I was in the best place and with the best people once I had the surgery was confirmed when the Associate Professor wrote responses to my many questions about what was ahead. It then gave me knowledge and my GP was also someone I could chat to. The courage grew. But there were days (and nights of course!) when I was fragile. I include the excerpts here from a blog post I did in the week before surgery and I am now responding in purple italics about how things went that I had been concerned about!

When I wrote this post I thought I was managing myself quite well. Since then, I have had some pretty horrid days (and nights) where I have become fearful, panicked, and so vulnerable I wanted to go into a corner and hide and never come out.

I may have felt like hiding but I did not. I certainly honour those feelings though as they are actually pretty normal and not exclusive to me.

I am shit-scared right now.

Again, I know this is normal. ‘Normalising’ the cancer diagnosis and what it would mean for me helped to change my thoughts. 

I am worried about losing what I valued: my mouth where I speak, eat, share my emotions and smile. It has been days of crying uncontrollably, being held until I calm down (thank you dear B) and taking some valium (which I don’t really want to) and letting out the fears in words between the sobs. 

This was helpful and much better for me to have the fears spoken about, and written too so that I could see them and read them knowing that I was admitting to them and not running away from them or denying them. In fact my GP gave me praise for acting this way as he said it was much healthier in the long-term than holding it in and acting as if nothing unusual was occurring.

I fear: the loss of ability to use my mouth for at least 7-10 days, have a naso-gastric feeding tube down my throat for those days, having the skin/flesh/bone from my right leg inside my mouth after 3/4 of my upper jaw/palate as been removed. Dealing with the not being in control.

Interesting for me that these things about that I feared did happen but I was in a less fearful place once the surgery was done. I did not like the feeling of the feeding tube when the liquid would start its hourly thing but I ended up telling myself it would be over in a minute or so and that the nourishment was helping me heal before I could eat again. It worked! 

I am, as I write, unable to really express what it means to be facing this loss of control of my body. I will be in ICU to start and may even have a tracheostomy to start if the mouth is too swollen. This is very scary to me, and I am admitting it now.

Better ‘in than out’ and this is why writing this post and the one containing these quotes has helped me. I have talked about the loss of control before and we humans are all like that. So, in a way, I shared a very human response rather than a ‘unique to Denyse’ one and so in one way, I was giving loving-kindness in thoughts to more than me but to anyone else fearing loss of control. 

For me to admit how vulnerable I feel right now is to say “I cannot do this without help”. My husband reassures me he will be there as much as possible, and given how I will look and be, he will be my only visitor until I give any indication I can see others. I am facing the unknown and that as we know is the scariest place to be. I will be losing my smile….for more than a while. Possible 3-4 months until my upper jaw recovers.

Yes, the loss of my smile seemed very important then and to an extent remains so but, as I have found as my mouth swelling reduced that my smile (sans top lip) is still there and in fact, smiling with my eyes has never disappeared. I will be more secure once I have teeth again of course and a lip too but for now, I am appreciative of the smiling coming from the inside too! 

August, September and onwards into October 2017.

Now I am feeling more courageous and in control of my reactions and responses I can consider what lies ahead with great equanimity and no longer feel the need to have everything right before I do things. In one week from now we will be on our way back to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to see Professor Clarke for my 3 month check. It is interesting that I can be a little bit apprehensive about what is ahead but also curious about it too. I shall report back!!

I hope that reading my story about what I have had to do to change some of the hard-wired thoughts and feelings of mine to get better and to do well has been helpful. Avoidance is a short-term fix and the more we avoid, the worse it becomes as I found out. See Part One. By doing something fearful it helped re-train my behaviours and therefore added feelings and memories of success in overcoming many of the fears – real and imagined. Of course support from my professionals and my husband was another key to progress.

Tell me your thoughts!

Denyse.

Linking on Tuesdays with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Leanne on Thursdays for Lovin’ Life.

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