Tuesday 16th October 2018

But It IS Still About Cancer. 2018.103.

But It IS Still About Cancer. 2018.103.

Since spending much of last Tuesday, 2nd October, at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (my cancer hospital) in Sydney, I have been affected by the fact that the reason I am in need of regular visits is because I have cancer. Specifically a Head and Neck cancer that was removed from my maxilla and upper lip named:

“Hybrid squamous cell carcinoma showing features of both verrucous squamous cell carcinoma & conventional squamous cell carcinoma”

On Tuesday I got a copy of the Histopathology report from 6 July 2017 surgery. It was ‘less confronting’ to read from this distance of time but it did have words in it I found hard to read.

With no risks per se, other than age, it seems my cancer took hold. I reckon it was there for many months before it was discovered after having my bridge/teeth removed when the gums were so sore and growing over the teeth (my request to do so in January 2017 was not heeded until April 2017). Diagnosis came in mid May 2017.

Why am I writing this now?

Because after all the surgeries (4 in less than one year), and many, many visits back to Westmead for my prosthodontist to make my mouth ready to accept the upper prosthesis of teeth, I thought I was almost done.

I am not.

Cancer is and will always ‘be there’ and in fact, my Professor and lovely Cate, reminded me “It IS about cancer” and that is why I come back for check ups and need to be vigilant myself about any changes.

My day of catching up, meeting people and doing my trip to Sydney independently was wonderful and I am so grateful that all of these people care about me and helping others with cancer. But it came home, forcefully, and is affecting me today with some sadness;

Cancer is always there. I had let it hide for a while behind everything else I was doing. I appreciate you reading this far! It is important, always, once I have something impact me as this has, that I share.

My husband is a wonderful person I can chat with always and I saw my GP to update him as a de-brief.

But before I go on, I had a TREMENDOUS day on Tuesday, noteworthy too because it was the first time I had driven myself to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Asking Others For Their Thoughts.

I asked around  facebook friends who I know are through the active stage of treatments for their thoughts and some kindly replied with these words.

From S.:

“I’m past the ‘active’ part of my treatment, I’ve had surgery and radiation. Now I take a once a day tablet to prevent recurrence and I got 12 months all clear. But some days I feel just awful with fatigue and other side effects. I spend whole afternoons sleeping on the couch. I don’t feel like myself and it’s really hard when people say ‘oh you must be back to normal now’. I’m not back to normal and I don’t know if I ever will be. The weight of expectation (my own and others) feels so heavy and overwhelming sometimes. Depression, anxiety and feeling down even though you survived cancer feels inevitable and like I am lacking gratitude for my recovery. I’m not, it’s just hard”

From V.:

For me post cancer treatment is a mixed bag. I’m so grateful for my recovery but the fear and uncertainty for the future is still there. It’s a monkey on your back forever and you have to find a way to live with that monkey. The monkey is very loud and cheeky at times. Other times I give my monkey a time out and she sulks in the corner. At my recent follow up appointment I sat in a waiting room full of women ( I had early stage breast cancer).   They all had that haunted ‘how in the hell did I end up here’ look on their face and you just bravely smile at each other without any need for words.

From S.:

It’s my cancerversary on Tuesday so I’ll be blogging about it too! I don’t think the cancer shadow ever goes away but I try not to let the worry of it steal my joy of today.

From M:

 The elation of hearing the words “all clear” faded more quickly than I imagined and in its place was anxiety. Having been so closely under the microscope for so long,  I felt anxious that the cancer might return and it wouldn’t be spotted. Over time, this does ease and I look forward to my six-monthly check ups for continued reassurance that all is ok.

From M in N.Z.:

It’s normal to have a slump in mood after treatment ends. I availed myself of the Cancer Society psychologists who are trained to help us deal with the transition from treatment to the new normal.

I also went to the NSW Cancer Council website and found this article about ‘after the cancer treatment stage’.

Can cancer be a positive experience?

  • Many people find there are positive aspects to having cancer. Some even refer to the disease as a life-changing experience.
  • Cancer may cause you to re-examine your life choices, and may motivate you to travel, take up new activities or make lifestyle changes (e.g. starting exercise or quitting smoking). This shift is often gradual, as even positive change can take getting used to.
  • After treatment, some people want to help improve the cancer experience for others through advocacy or volunteer work.

Read more at https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/15289/b1000/living-well-after-cancer-45/living-well-after-cancer-back-to-normal/#sUFxCMjbDj1ZGQz4.99

New friend to me, and known to many is journalist and M.C.  Julie McCrossin, who is now 5 years down the track from her Head and Neck cancer diagnosis and she sent me here, to her podcasts for the Cancer Council, and this one of fear I listened to again.

Liverpool Hospital Head and Neck Patient Support Group listening to Dr Ben Smith, Ingham Institute on cancer recurrence anxiety. Learn more about managing anxiety. Listen to The Thing About Cancer Managing Fear podcast cancercouncil.com.au/podcasts/episo… @beyondfiveorg @CCNewSouthWales http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:314217701/sounds.rss

Julie said “I find the fear catches me unawares, like on my recent birthday”

Thank you friends for sharing.

So, I am not unique.

Always good to know.

And I can share my worries and fears with others who ‘get it’.

Having cancer never really ends, but I am always grateful for the friendships and new experiences I am having as a result of cancer.

Thank you one and all.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog on Tuesdays here and with Sue and Leanne here on Wednesdays.

 

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Share Your Snaps.8. 40/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.99.

Share Your Snaps.8. 40/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.99.

This is a favourite prompt for many.

Take a group of photos from what’s been happening lately in your part of the world.

It might be a retrospective or indeed something that is very current.

My post is both!

My husband was bewildered that I would show a series of photos of “just my face” in this….and I said, it is what I blog about and my readers often seem interested in my progress. Make this prove him wrong, I say!

As you know I have had cancer in my upper gums and under my lip and this has brought about some challenges for me.

My appearance was not as it turned out as important to me as it was for me to:

  • speak
  • eat
  • communicate
  • smile

This little video, with a favourite piece of music right now, is here.

I sing this song often in the car and even as I am working. It totally explains for me what I have HAD to do to get better and how it takes

H E A R T

The video starts before I knew I had cancer…and then in under 3 minutes takes the viewer from there to now where I can

S M I L E

You’ve gotta have heart

All you really need is heart

When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win

That’s when the grin should start

You’ve gotta have hope

Mustn’t sit around and mope

Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear

Wait’ll next year and hope

When your luck is battin’ zero

Get your chin up off the floor

Mister you can be a hero

You can open any door, there’s nothin’ to it but to do it

You’ve gotta have heart

Miles ‘n miles n’ miles of heart

Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course

But keep that old horse

Before the cart

First you’ve gotta have heart

Part of the lyrics: Damn Yankees. My version:Damn Yankees (1994 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

I find singing (around the house and in the car) is a way of releasing any anxiety and I have fun doing it. I am definitely someone who loves her Show Tunes. However, it was only this year I discovered this song!

Have you got a song that helps you along?

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: 41/52. Best Friend Stories.  8/10/18.


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The Last Thing I Bought. 39/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.96

The Last Thing I Bought. 39/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.96.

I was not sure what the “last thing” I bought would be when I sat to write this post.

I thought it might have been ‘the groceries’ because that is on-going….and then I thought, maybe it would be some new art materials. I admit, I have been busy updating my collection.

But no, it is none of those.

It is this:

A(new)nother Big W A3 Laminator.

https://www.bigw.com.au/product/be-a3-laminator-vl901/p/4684/

Isn’t that exciting?

Actually no, it is more like embarrassing.

This is the THIRD one I have (not yet) bought.

Update: thought I would have it in my possession now…except, my Big W is out of stock. 

The THIRD!!

I have made over 200 bookmarks for The Big Hug Box and I can get 5 into one A4 laminating sheet.

You see, I am a pioneer…of sorts …so I have tested my laminators out (for sure) and even though it has not been my intention when I have added dried flowers and some materials that do not have endings which line up….I have:

broken 2 of these laminators as the items got stuck.

Sigh.

For years and years I had a really solid and BIG A3 laminator that I used at home and at school and it only gave up the ghost 2 years ago. It had cost over $150 so I was delighted to find that Big W sold these A3 ones for $30. The A4 one is $20. My mandalas are made on A3 paper which is why I needed and wanted to bigger sized one.

Two have now been dumped. Because they cannot be fixed once the material gets caught on the roller. I was a very sheepish telling my husband about the 2nd one being ruined and he even tried taking it apart but it was not worth it.

I would hope I have learned my lesson.

I do not, repeat, do NOT want to buy a 4th Big W laminator.

So, what have you bought?

Are you a fan of the laminator?

Denyse.

P.S. Here’s the update of the update. NO Big W Laminators could be found….so, still needing said A3 laminator, I went on-line to O’works. Yes. Their model is 3x the price of the BigW and says “it is jam-free”…(my husband scoffed at this based on my track record)…and I can use the convenience of in-store pick up at Northmead when I return to Westmead tomorrow to see the prosthodontist. Too easy? We shall see.

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: 40/52. Share Your Snaps. 1/10/18.


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September Stories. #3. 2018.95.

September Stories. #3. 2018.95.

This is the third story telling some aspects of what it was like for me as a K-6 School Principal in a medium-sized New South Wales public school from 1999 until the beginning of 2003.

The first story is here and the second here for those who want to understand “how I got to the day I never went back as principal in September 2002.”

What was different in the beginning of the 2002 school year?

It was my fourth year as principal. Naturally much changes within the education system and in schools themselves. Families may move on due to work changes, sometimes those families are not replaced by new ones so a school population can begin heading downwards.

School staff (teacher and executive staff) may need to take leave for reasons of: family needs, maternity and long service leave as well as sick leave.

The other change heralding 2002 was the need to upgrades of maintenance (big cost jobs) to the school as it was one that was first occupied in the 1940s. Back in 2002 it was up to the principal to make the contacts with contracted companies to get in suppliers who could quote for major works. Then the principal, with enough funds in the school account, could give a project a green light. I was trained to teach but there I was, like all principals still, being a site manager and a financial manager as well as HR manager. Sigh.

Systemic Changes.

More and more, I noted as did my principal colleagues that schools were being expected (rightly too) to ensure that Codes of Conduct for staff were not only understood and agreed upon by them but if behavioural issues arose, then the principal would be the first person to begin making an action plan when the code was violated.

There always had been the mandatory notification to the Department back then called Family and Community Services where if a child was deemed by a mandatory reporter (all school staff are) to be ‘at risk’ then a first notification was to be made by telephone. This saw me, often waiting for a person to answer, locked into a phone call because of issues which may look trivial on the outside but may be clues to more. One such event could be repeatedly coming to school with no food. Other times it could be the child letting her/his teacher know that a parent may be unwell or even violent and it was never our role to investigate but we did need to reassure the child, then make the reports. Over the years I have sat in with a child in my role as a support person (if the child requested that from me) and it is heart-aching to be witness.

Our system, the N.S.W. Department of Education, was updating its role in terms of staff compliance and behaviour. This was nothing new and in fact teachers have had annual reviews in a conversation form for decades. Since I left teaching, this has become a joint venture between the schools and the overseeing body of school governance. Returning to my principal days. IF there was a reported incident told to me by a student, parent or staff member where a staff member’s behaviour (spoken, actions or in written form) was not within the Code of Conduct (signed off annually as part of mandatory training) then the principal had to act upon it. I dealt with the Officers from the Conduct Unit first who listened to what had been reported to me and then I was given advice that it could be managed at school level (guess by whom?) or it could be escalated, with the staff member’s knowledge to a higher authority. I had to do this on one occasion and the fallout for me came later. The temporary staff member who brought along a permanent staff member as a support person as the complaint was told to her from my account given to me was aghast at the inference. In fact, there was nothing I had done wrong at all….but remember way back “your role will be to bring this school into the next century” comment by MY boss…this matter was a prime example of how staff thought they could still behave but it was not compliant with the Code of Conduct.

And, Everyone Who Was An Executive Member of the School Went on Leave.

Not at all related to the above in two instances: one was to have a baby and the other because of longevity of service took her rightful allocation of leave…both for the remainder of 2002. But wait, there was one more. Yes, this person ‘broke me’ in so many subtle then obvious ways. And whilst I cannot say much, the continued leave based on medical certificates over and over did cause alarm for the parents of that class as it did me because the year had started well but then, as it was expected of me that this Assistant Principal would perform other executive duties (as do all teaching executive) this person refused and did not return after many months. Oh, yes, one day there was a return, after hours to access my office and computer telling the only person on site, the cleaner, that “I” had given him permission. Following that, he was disciplined and placed in a different school.

How Did That Affect Me?

In some ways it was a relief but in many more, as we geared up for the mid year reports, parent-teacher interviews and then Education  Week along with concerts and fund raisers, it was the beginning of my end. Sadly I did not see it for sometime. I kept on working even harder. Yes. I was doing the roles of the appointed executive who were on leave. I know that I did have three teachers put their hands up to do the relieving roles but without the experience and knowledge beyond their classroom teaching, I was giving more and more of myself to duties that were not mine. I was even writing reports for a class teacher with little experience. I will say now that I know I was over-doing things but I could see no way out. I was under pressure to perform well for the school’s sake and also to answer to my ‘bosses.’ My lovely boss actually retired at the end of Term One (sadly) and he was replaced by someone I knew well but was nothing like the people-person my old boss was.

Schools have a culture of their own. I can now walk into a school and get a feeling of how things are. In my school, as Winter took hold I know that my mood was also one of worry and concern. That was for the school and its staffing into the next year. When school populations decrease in the NSW public system, the principal will be asked to nominate a teacher to leave. In the majority of cases, teachers are very comfortable in their current school and rarely does anyone volunteer. So then it becomes a matter of ‘asking’ and ‘hoping’. The staff were getting the idea that with the school’s drop in population, which occurred when the Special Needs unit was disbanded and there was a reduction of families moving to the area, that “I” had something to do with the reduction. I was told this by telephone on the night (4th September 2002) I heard staff were arranging a delegation to my office the next day. They were going to tell me it was my manner with parents that was the cause. This may have had one essence of truth after I was threatened by a violent father who I had to get removed from the grounds, but generally I had a suppotive P&C and was a principal who was active and even did playground duty. But people like someone to blame. Of course, and that was me.

The Night I Was Told.

Before I go on, I was feeling emotions of overwhelm from the role. I remember with clarity coming back from yet another principals’ meeting where they was MORE that we needed to take responsibility for. I wondered how I could possibly manage more. In the meantime, I became probably hyper vigilant after another meeting about my responsibilities for Work Health and Safety. The school was OLD in many parts and I knew that there was much that did not comply, so I contacted my properties’ manager (the centralised one, not a personal one!) and for a fee, he came out and condemned or ok-ed parts I was concerned about. One such area was deemed so risky I had to tape it off before demolition and in doing so, incurred the wrath of the teachers who had been there forever. I could not take a trick. I stood for what was right because that is who I am. I knew I needed to have a timeout but it happened to be an official one to attend a meeting for a day and then a personal one to accompany my husband to a vital medical appointment.

Schools: I love them. But I Could Not Return To Mine.

Two days away from school…..then I was rung the night before I was to return. Wednesday 4th September. By one of my relieving Executive who I always thought was both compassionate and brave to tell me that some staff were getting a delegation ready along with a Teachers Federation Organiser to meet with me to discuss their issues. Initially I listened with interest and then with surprise/shock at what was apparently my fault: declining numbers, meaning one of them would be asked to transfer. Once I had talked (and been upset a bit) with her, I had successive phone calls from the remaining two relieving executive and it was then I said “I will be speaking to…(my boss) in the morning and will not be returning to school until I have”. They implored me not to but I had the sense not to act upon a threat like this.

I broke. I broke down. I was ill. I couldn’t contact my boss: left a message that I would be going to my GP in the morning.

That would be the start of pretty horrible days but also some days of relief and release. Yet, nothing ever has helped me get over the fact that I loved being a principal but one day I never went back.

There was so much shame in me for that and it has almost all faded now some 16 years later.

It’s been hard to learn THIS….

Next and last story will be about, sadly, how poorly my employer treated me, but how my own return to wellness was all because of my inner capacity aided by a loving husband, a supportive family and friends network along with..some years later, an inclusive blogging community.

Thank you for your kind words having read these stories. I have not told them in as much detail for many years but I am glad I could have the chance again.

It really helps to write our stories! That is why I blog!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky here on Thursdays.

 

 

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Telling My Story: Chapter 4. 2018. 79.


Telling My Story: Chapter 4. 2018.79.

One year post major cancer surgeries.

I am back with my memoir: Telling My Story, which began here, then had a long break…re-commenced here to the next post here and then to last time I wrote a chapter. My plan is one chapter every 4 weeks from now. I am glad readers and bloggers are finding the story interesting. Thank you for your gracious and kind words.

Then what happened?

I met the love of my life (and he is still that indeed!) when I completed chapter 3 and now to tell more.

On turning 21. 

Late in 1970 was my 21st Birthday. My parents had met the young man who I knew I would marry but they did not know ALL of the story. Later! Mum and Dad kindly put on a family and friends 21st celebration for me back in Sydney. I flew down from Tamworth, farewelling my love at the airport and it was supposed to be that I came back by car. My parents were generous, no doubt about it, and I was given a start with a second-hand car for my birthday. That is what I drove back to Barraba in. On the Monday evening after, Mum and Dad hosted a dinner at a Tamworth Club for me and all of the school staff was invited. Kind of over the top for sure and my now husband wondered about the extravagance. We knew more about what was also happening. That we were going to be married in the coming school holidays. So we could be with each other forever.

Family Birthday & Mum is obviously who I inherited my smile from!

Teaching Nearer To Each Other.

We knew we wanted to be married and teach in schools close to where we would live. Easy peasy? Not but in one way yes. I was teaching in a town with a central school (K-12) and my husband-to-be was literally over the mountain teaching in his one-teacher school. Normally the NSW Department of Education requires a teacher to stay at least 3 years in a school before a transfer can occur. In my case, in 1970, my D.P. put the situation to the Area Director at the time, and he came up with the plan, if agreeable to the other teacher, to do a ‘swap’ of positions. The teacher in the small 2 teacher school was moved to my position and I to hers as it was a school close-ish to my soon-to-be husband’s school and to where we might live on a country property.

Wedding Bells.

So, we became engaged just before Christmas and my fiance spent his Christmas in the NSW countryside with his family as I did with mine in Sydney. We had mentioned our forthcoming engagement and desire to be wed in January to both families. His was concerned about religious difference and they had not yet met me, mine was concerned similarly even though they had met him. A few times by now. WE knew more but as long as a wedding was locked in and planned for late January we were fine. Until….

This

We knew I was pregnant by the school holidays when we had arrived at my parents’ place to stay until the wedding. However, given the times we lived in (1970), the already raised concerns about religion (he was catholic I came from protestant stock) and from a parent’s perspective I guess, our short time in knowing each other we were not letting THIS news out.

But it did come out and it is not something to detail here, suffice to say, but there were a few “convos”!

The thing all through the weeks of the above was we KNEW all would be well. We KNEW we love(d) each other. We were CERTAIN and I add now, that doubt has never crossed our minds in 47 plus years.

Married Life Begins! 

The day of our wedding was a typical Sydney January one: rainy in the morning, warm and then incredibly humid in the afternoon (our wedding was held then) and stifling hot when we departed the church. In those days the wedding photographer did black and white shots. Fortunately some family members took some coloured ones. We really enjoyed the party that was the wedding. After all that had gone on before it was a celebration of family and love. The next day, we returned to my parents’ place, had breakfast with the assembled wedding party that woke up, and left with our one car laden with presents, our clothing and to begin our honeymoon travelling slowly up the Pacific Highway to end at Ballina.

 

Family shots in collage of our Wedding Day.

My husband grew up near there and it was/is a favourite place. We had fun, went fishing, swimming and ate out. I remember being tired (never gave preganancy a thought really) and eventually return to school made us wend our way west. Meanwhile, NSW experienced some major flooding in January 1971 and yes, we did keep an eye on the TV and soon found that despite our wishes, the road into our new married home ( a track of sorts) would not be passable and we were kindly given space at one of the local families’ farmhouse. We began the next stage of our married life…in single beds…and with parents and kids from my husband’s school. Eventually we did get in and tried as best as we could to prepare for ONE of us to return to teaching.

Teaching and Schools Then.

The one of us was me. Yes, the two-teacher school where I had received the swap was, in Department of Education-speak on the eastern side of the imaginary line in N.S.W. This line, still exists, and schools west of it, have an extra week’s holidays at summer time because of the climate differences. Let me tell you, my husband’s school was a 20 minute drive away on dirt road from my school and HE got to stay home for another week.

I love teaching and the class consisted of around 20 kids who were in K to Year 2. I am organised and it did not take me long to timetable the work each day to enable me to spend parts of the lessons with the youngest children. In the meantime, my husband did eventually go back to his school of K-6 with around 20 children.

On my husband’s trip back to where we taught and lived he visited this school – two classrooms – this is the one where I taught K-2. No air con back then!

Teaching in the N.S.W. country regions of the North West was good. Schools were populated by children of land-holders, and of those who worked for them. Parents were helpful in terms of some fundraising and on Sports’ Days and for the Christmas concerts. Some of the roles my husband did in his one-teacher school included: cleaner – inside the classroom and outside…in the toilets. Where brown snakes might gather and be of danger to the children…and shoosh. Do not tell but he literally had to kill a snake as it was in the girls’ toilet. Mind you, I had a more flash set up at the bigger two-teacher school (flushing toilet) but alas when the green frogs were part of the sistern this non-country girl did not like!

This is the one-teacher school where my husband taught for 3 years. It’s me out the front. We visited some decades later and this was gone and a crop was growiing there.

Home Life for Us.

Life went on, he played cricket on Saturday afternoons, we had meals at our friends’ place (he was my boss, she was a friend) and I grew our daughter. In the May school holidays we drove to my parents’ house in Sydney and I recall Mum taking me to buy some maternity clothes to wear to school. No slacks or pants of any kind then – the sexist boss once told me I could not wear pants as he liked to look at women’s legs. Gah!

By the time the middle of the year came and my pregnancy was evident, the parents of both my school and that of my husband knew and were kind and understanding when they found I would be replaced for the latter part of the year. I have to say, I was pretty ignorant of my pregnant body and how birth would occur  and was given some great help by one parent who was a physiotherapist.

At 22, my husband’s age and 21, mine…. we were about to become parents. There is quite a story attached to this life-changing experience and that will be in Chapter 5.

In 2017 my husband did a ‘trip back to where we lived’ and this is the sign to the property where we lived. No evidence of a house anywhere and the road you see was dirt back then.

What comes next…

In keeping with non-identification and privacy matters within our family and relating to our places of living and working, the next chapters will not disclose them directly. I did give a lot of thought to whether I would continue once the family grew and hope this will work out. If it does not, then I will dis-continue writing it on the blog. Fingers crossed!

I hope you found this chapter of interest.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays
And with Sue and Leanne here for Mid-life Share the Love linky.

 

 

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter 2. 2018.54.

Telling My Story. Chapter 2. 2018.54.

Deciding to begin my story!

Well over as year ago I finally set upon the journey, after much encouragement I might add, of telling my life’s story via blog posts. My friend Rebecca Bowyer  who writes here recommended this way and it has worked so far. I admit though, that the May 2017 post where I started got waylaid by the most inconvenient fact of my cancer diagnosis in the same month. Moving along into 2018 I got back to this…and wrote my first chapter here in March 2018.

Being a truth-teller and someone who likes to be updating photos and knowledge, I wondered if I might add a new photo which is based on the me now. Here it is.

One year post major cancer surgery.

The Social Aspects of My Teens 1962-1967.

I am really delving into the memory bank now and what I come up with may not be in chronological order!

Music, The Radio and More.

When I was 13 I was lucky, oh so lucky, to become the owner of a portable transistor radio. It was light blue plastic, covered with  brown leather protection. It ran on batteries. It had a shoulder strap so I could carry it. I cannot recall if it had a power cord. BUT, I was in teen heaven with it. My Dad really understood my love of all things teen music (he was enamoured with the jazz musicians and big bands of the 1930s and 40s. Mum was never into music even though she was an awesome dancer. I wonder if her hearing loss after giving  birth twice made her less than keen on music. She was, however, a BIG fan of something I never was…talk back radio (told you I would get ahead of myself) and for Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary in 2006 broadcaster Alan Jones wished Mum and Dad all the best. Gosh. I can’t believe I wrote that.

Mum and Dad – 60 years wed. 2.11.2006. Sadly Mum became very ill and passed away in March 2007.

When I was this age I had already begun babysitting for our neighbours and I know it went well because I got weekly gigs and paid well. It helped with pocket money for the canteen at school. And for purchasing records – 45s at the local music shop. My first record was the Beatles Love Me Do and when I was 14 I was incredibly lucky to be in the audience of the screaming thousands to listen (ha!) and see (almost ha!) The Beatles live in Sydney in 1964. Again I credit Dad with that!

We had a two storey house and the main living was upstairs – hilly block. Mum would be cooking dinner and I was, supposedly downstairs studying. I have no idea where my younger brother was. But as I ahem studied I had my radio tuned to 2SM, the Good Guys (Mike Walsh was a good guy) where on the very rare occasion I would ring and win a prize of a movie pass. We had a phone downstairs!!

On a sloping block Mum and Dad’s house had entry at street level and then it went downstairs to another level.

Around the age of 16 my friend Sue and I managed to get to be winners of a competition to be part of Ward ‘Pally’ Austin’s program on a Saturday afternoon. We liked his panel operator, Warrick more than Ward. But we both got to chat and I chose a record list for the afternoon. Ward drove both of us across the Harbour Bridge in his top down E-type white jag and then dropped as at North Sydney to get our bus home. O.M.G. famous. OK, there are people who will have different memories of Ward but he was fine with us and we enjoyed our 30 minutes of fame.

The playlist from my appearance on 2UW

History I Remember.

It might not be social but I recall very significant events which were now, for the main part, televised after we had heard about them on the radio. The assassination of John F Kennedy was a landmark. Then later on his brother and Martin Luther Kind Jr. We felt glad to be ‘isolated’ in Australia. Of course, I have to mention the Prime Minister Harold Holt who went into the surf one Sunday on Victoria’s Cheviot Beach and he never returned. So many theories still abound. We watched the Vietnam War on our news stations, particularly Channel Two and This Day Tonight with Bill Peach. So many now retired journos made their start on this show and because of the Vietnam war and Mike Carlton was but one.

Of course everything was telecast in black and white and we only had 3 commercial channels and the ABC. I wrote about that here.

What I Did On The Weekends & Holidays.

In my early teens I continued in the guiding movement being part of Manly’s groups in the hall in the park above Manly Oval. I would set off via the bus with my friend who lived nearby at dusk on a Friday and we might pop over to the Wharf and watch the donuts being made and buy one. The walk to the oval was not far and we took part in the meetings. Although my parents were stalwarts of the Scouting and Cub movements in their youth and my brother followed there, I was not enamoured.

I am so NOT a camping out person, even though I did ONCE and it was a long way from home and the site at Marshall Mount became flooded. My dear Papa, who knew the area well and lived at Dapto, got a taxi out there to see if I was OK. I was…but what a sweet man he was. We returned to Sydney on the train on a dismal June afternoon and caught a ferry at peak hour back to Manly, on a very rocky ferry…we screamed a bit. I was not to know it, till Mum picked us up, that Dad too was on that ferry! I think they stopped the ferries that night according to the news as they showed what happened on our trip!

So not into guiding.

I learned ten pin bowling at Balgowlah Ten Pin. This is now where Stockland Mall is. I liked it a lot there and, you guessed it, found a boy that I liked. Sigh. Young love. I played netball with some enthusiasm as I got older and mostly because I was in a team with a group from school and we might meet up with some of the boys…I was at a girls’ school…from the high school who came to see their friends. I also found it great once I had my licence so I could get there driving Mum’s car.

We did family holidays once a year, by car, and usually to the North Coast in the (then) September holidays. We also went to Canberra once a year as Mum’s aunt lived there and we enjoyed seeing snow for the first time after going down to Cooma and I developed my love for and appreciation of Australia’s capital city.

Going to the beach was easy because the bus took me to Manly and then I could walk down the Corso and go to my favourite beach hang – North Steyne. I was not there to ogle the blonde surfer boys. I was there to meet friends and to surf. Body surf, not on a board.

On the left: me at North Steyne. On the right: me at North Steyne on the way to Fellowship. BF chopped out. For a reason.

The movies were great. Sometimes we went into the city to George Street where there were cinemas on both sides. I saw many movies there with family and friends. There were always 2 features so the main movie was after interval. You also had to stand at the end to listen to the National Anthem – God Save the Queen.

Fellowship was a youth group that met at Manly Presbyterian Church. Before I go on. Mum and Dad married in the Presbyterian church and I was christened there. I went to Sunday School. When we moved to Balgowlah Heights there was a new Congregational Church a few streets away and I began attending there because I wanted to join a choir and I started teaching Sunday School. Peak time for me was singing a solo at Christmas and my nerves were such the voice did not do justice to the carol.

I taught little kids at Sunday School. For a while.

Back to fellowship. A great way to meet people. OK, I admit it, boys. See? This is what it was like. Fellowship at St Andrew’s Manly meant something to eat, join in a discussion probably related to the scriptures and then at leaving time, join your mates at the Balgowlah Coffee Shop. And met one boyfriend there…and another where the relationship lasted 3 years: 1967-1970.

The Teen Years of 18, 19 and turning 20. 1968-1969.

Turning 17 meant: Licence gained. H.S.C. completed, birthday parties and celebrations attended, training in typing (Dad insisted I did a course at Manly Evening College in Wentworth St, above the old Library) and I admit it helps me to this day to know how to almost-touch type. He also made me do shorthand in the January before I got my teacher’s college scholarship and I hated that. Off to be a teacher instead. Yay. More about that next chapter.

Very proud of this…and on first go!

In 5th Form (Yr 11) in a Gilbert & Sullivan Show with the Boys’ HS. Look who has her mouth open. Unsurprising.

Turning 18 and onto 19 and 20: at teacher’s college, doing 5 pracs over 2 years, attending Winter and Summer balls at both Sydney Uni and NSW Uni thanks to boyfriend being a Syd Uni student, parties most weekends for someone’s 21st as he was one year older than me, enjoying LIFE, loving independence even though I still lived at home, going on bush-based holidays and beach ones too thanks to the boyfriend’s family.

Wesley College Ball at Sydney Uni (left) and Bacchus Ball #3 for me, Uni NSW right.

So proud of “me now” posting pic of “me then”. Terrigal Beach 1968

Life took a more serious but exciting turn for me at the beginning of 1970 and that is where Chapter Three will go.

I hope that this trip down my memory lane is of interest.

I have been quite amazed at how some memories come back easily. I am also pleased I made some sort of memorabilia after carting around boxes of ‘stuff’ for years as we moved house as  young married teachers…but that is for another time.

Denyse.

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

On Thursday this post links with Leanne here.

 

 

 

 

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Moving House Stories. Pt.2. 2018.42.

Moving House Stories. Pt.2. 2018.42.

A few weeks back I wrote my first part of Moving Houses stories here. Some great comments from readers were much appreciated as it seems Moving House is topic in which we can all recall our experiences. Thank you for sharing them then. This post takes off where the last one ended.

We moved to Sydney and ….here we go.

1978 – 1993. Kellyville – Northwest Sydney. N.S.W. 

Two teachers on a teaching salary could not afford to buy their first house anywhere near the coastal areas of Sydney. So, it was to the north-west of Sydney we went to search. That also made sense as both my husband’s and my teaching appointments were in the region. Many a time we made the drive from the remote country areas back down the hills of Bells Line of Road, to travel along (and past!) Windsor Road…Kellyville.  Never realised it would be home for such a long time!

Parents of one daughter, we were successful in getting a mutual society loan to purchase the NEW house and land for $44,600. My parents did put us up for some months while we travelled to schools until the house was ready to move in on 17 March 1978.

So proud to call this our first home…that we were not renting.

In the years that followed, and our family grew to include a son, we did some extensions. Above the garage became a second storey with master bedroom, ensuite. The garage was converted to a teaching space for my retired husband who tutored students after school. The backyard eventually got an in-ground pool after an above-ground one did a great job for some years. We held our daughter’s 21st here and she moved out of home that year. Our son, a teen, was living at home.

Suddenly (do not ask me why!) we wanted to do something MORE to this house but were advised that it would over-capitalise it. It was the era of “we can lend you the money if you have secure employment and a good deposit” and in 1993 we sold. For $225,000. We rented for 6 months whilst we BUILT……

1994-1997 Bella Vista. Brand New Estate (then!) Northwest Sydney. N.S.W.

My husband by now was sole trader in his business of designing, making and installing kitchens and cabinets. It was a builder he worked for who suggested we build. We engaged this builder who had an architect draw up plans for this original house of ours and as my husband was doing the cabinetry the house price was lower. We had purchased the land. And, of course, we added an in-ground pool while we were in a borrowing frame of mind…and the bank said YES.

Lovely house with beautiful fittings, a view over the park….

We moved in by January 1994 and our daughter, who was now engaged, left this house as a Bride. Parents of the Bride we were of course. We enjoyed parts of living here a lot. However, it was, unfortunately, somewhere we had to sell in 1997 due to my husband’s illness and business not being able to be carried out. Oh, there is one wonderful memory from this house: we cared for our now 21 year old granddaughter here for 6 months when I took some leave from teaching to do so. Her mum got as full-time teaching gig at a school.

1998-2015 Glenwood. An almost new estate between The Hills area and Blacktown. Northwest Sydney. N.S.W.

The move to Glenwood was bitter-sweet (for me). We had to start again as homeowners/borrowers as we were in essence, wiped out by the business losses. However, we got on with life. We had our family who cared, and we rented as we purchased a house/land package and moved in later in 1998.

This was from earlier days at Glenwood. When the house sold in 2014 it had a carport on one side, and driveway across the front of the house.

The years at Glenwood are tinged with sad times for family reasons and also many glad times. We heard the “grandchildren-to-come” news here and then welcomed them to Grandma’s and Papa’s house for play, meals. sleep-overs and many swims in…the in-ground pool! We made quite a few improvements which made the house very user-friendly for a now- teacher and a now-builder (again – for fun and family). I finally retired from teaching (again) in 2010 and with some casual work teaching at Uni and my small consultancy we were very comfortable until….

The vacant block next door was being changed to add a carpark abutting our side fence, the vast changes in the traffic around where we and our families lived was incredible, I wanted to cease all paid work, and the family told us they had new plans for daycare for the grandkids in 2015. we were OVER being Sydney-siders. We sold and were ready to begin our adventures as a fully- retired couple.

2015- present. Central Coast Region. N.S.W.

I found the move this time heart and gut wrenching even though I “knew” it was the thing to do. I had no idea that the physical move would play so much on my emotional health but it did. I was already quite stressed/anxious and tended to get IBS in 2014 but it worsened with the move. I have written many a post about it. However, I did make a promise to myself to blog every single day in 2015 and into 2016 and I carried that out.

Empire Bay. Southern end of the CC until November 2015.

This house was found before Christmas 2014 and even though it was higher in rent than we thought we would pay, we did because the house had air-con (not ducted) and it was secured. So much wrong with this place…for US. Yes it had great views but no comfort for us who should have seen we needed to be on one-level…and that ducted air was a must. We found that place and moved (again!).

Gorokan. Northern end of the CC.  Nov 2015 – April 2018.

Once we viewed this house, it was so comfy and like our Glenwood house I did all I could to secure it before it went to public viewing and we got it. Such a relief. We couldn’t wait till the end of the lease of the place above, so did the double rent thing just for the peace of mind. This house was somewhere we settled. We really did. In fact, the property managers told us a few time how happy the owners were with us as tenants. This was the house where I found out I had cancer and where I came home to after each of my surgeries. It felt like HOME.

We hoped to stay for a lot longer than the 2.5 years BUT the owners plans changed and they told us they wanted to move in by August 2018. As we were advised by the same property managers (we did not want to leave our wonderful real estate people) to go week  by week when the lease stopped in February 2018 it meant we could look at new places.

 

Hamlyn Terrace. Northern end of the CC. April 2018 –

BUT oh gosh that is tiring and I really had to think about how much I could muster the energy (even though my husband would be doing most of the physical work) to plan a move again. AGAIN. But, knowing I would be having more surgery in May 2018 it made sense to suss out a recommended house about 6 mins from where we were. And we did, and before there were any open homes, we secured it.

It’s been home for just over a month now and we have not unpacked everything deliberately this time. In the last house there was copious storage and we used it. We even set up bunks for the grandkids to come and stay but over time this happened once or twice. So now we have made…are making the house comfy for two and we are enjoying the recency of this build and the features.

That’s the story for now. One day…one day…we will be buying somewhere to live but we are not ready yet. I still need to be in Sydney frequently for my cancer checks and surgery. The area we are in means a day trip from where our adult kids and their respective children live is feasible.

Have you moved house much?

Do you like living where you are now?

If you HAD to move, what would your next place be like and where?

Tell me in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining with bloggers who link up here for I Blog On Tuesdays: here for Midlife Share the Love on Wednesdays: here for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays. Thank you ladies for hosting!

 

 

 

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Travel Tales. #LifeThisWeek 42/52. 2017.119.

Travel Tales. #LifeThisWeek 42/52. 2017.119.

I have enjoyed travel a lot.

In fact, I am considering some travel next year but my surgical team and my ability  to eat properly will determine that. However, I can still plan. High on my list in 2018 is a visit to Canberra around Autumn to capture the leaves and to maybe visit with some blogging friends who live there! Yes, I am thinking of you Leanne and you too Claire and Lauren of course.

My favourite form of travel is SOLO.

Yes, organised by me (with help from a travel agent as necessary) and enjoyed by me!! Look, honestly, I spent all those years on holidays with the family and then with the spouse and half the time is spent negotiating who wants to do what and where and when and by my 50s I was O V E R that. And I am not afraid to travel solo and I actually enjoy experiences of meeting other people when and if I choose. Seriously. Have you tried it?

Where is this travel tale set?

It took me a bit of tossing up and it was between my OS (only one!) trip to the U.S. West Coast, Las Vegas and Hawaii OR this area: Far North Queensland. I know this is not its name now but it is how I refer to it!! Three Travel Tales To The Magical Tropics of Far North Queensland. 2002, 2003 and 2010.

Regular readers know that I left my role as a school principal due to ill-health. That was in September 2002 but in October 2002 I had already planned to attend a conference in Palm Cove and was being supported by my employer to attend. Work cover was fine about that so I went. It could not have happened at a better time as I needed both distraction and enjoyment back in my life. Here is what I found I loved about this first trip:

  • the warm air and water – it was not quite stinger time so I ventured in once I think to the actual sea, but the rest of time was the resort pool.
  • the ambience and the beauty of the surroundings.
  • the colours.
  • the part of the reef I ventured to was Green Island.
  • the hinterland.
  • so much to take in and enjoy it was hard to come home!

Mid-year 2003 when I was indeed now fully retired from the role of principal and my husband was about to finally stop his part-time teaching role, we wanted to mark the occasion with a special place to celebrate. I chose Port Douglas this time and B was happy to agree. Until the plane trip up. I am fine travelling economy (well, fine enough) but my poor  guy with spinal pain and well over 6’2″ was NOT. At all. He could barely express how hard it was to travel well over 3 hours like that: add in the airport trip from home, even though we did use a hire car, the waiting at the airport, the disembarking and the drive from Cairns to Port Douglas: So that put a LARGE dampener on the trip at the start, and if I tell the truth, most of the stay. I had selected a one bedroom apartment with air con and all comforts but did not know there was no lift and it meant up around 4 flights to our room. There were days, B did not leave the room.

He actually said “I cannot go home like that” and I agreed. We then changed our tickets home to business class at a cost of (back then) $1500 to enable him to have some comfort. When we did go to fly home we were delayed at Cairns due to the late incoming Qantas flight which was bringing up a tiger for a local zoo. By the time we embarked on the same plane we were ready to enjoy every part of the $1500 worth and yes, it was awesome travelling that way. At the Sydney end on the June evening, our then son-in-law was picking us up and the huge storm that we encountered out of Sydney and on landing did slow down our going home as the luggage handlers could not go out on the tarmac in the storms. We eventually got our ride home…and that, dear readers, is the last time I have travelled on a plane with my husband!

The Next Time I Retired. September 2010. My dear spouse had not been well for the past year or so and even though we found out some two years later due to HIS investigations and proactive work and seeing a new GP that he did NOT have Parkinsons Disease, it was timely for me to have a little break. Where else did I choose? Far North Queensland. From the drop off to the airport to arrival in Cairns and picking up my rental car for the trip to Palm Cove I was fine. In fact, it was a bit sad to be away from B because we thought he was unwell. Yes he was but not from what the Drs said. Grrrr. Story for another time maybe.

I had picked a one bedroom studio overlooking the water. And the resort had one of those magical beach type pools. It was great. Except, again, for the long walk UP 3 flights of stairs to my room. Why, resorts, why do you not put in lifts?? I made the most of the spa on the verandah and swam in the pool. Ordered some room service but mostly walked along the wonderful Williams Esplanade to a cafe for breakfast. I did some day trips in the car to my much loved Mossman Gorge and went on a day bus trip to the Tablelands. I LOVED up there too. I could get on a plane right now and be back there. I feel an affinity spiritually and physically to the area. I am adding some poor image quality photos to this post as a memory of what it was for me then.

Do you have a special place that forms part of your travel tales? Denyse. Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather and here with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

Thank you for linking up here everyone  for Life This Week.

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