Thursday 30th June 2022

The Month That Was : March 2022. #LifesStories #LinkUp. 21/2022.

And look what’s back! A Link Up HERE.

New(ish) Name: Life’s Stories.

Publishing Every Second Monday, from today with Link Up.

 

The Month That Was : March 2022. 21/2022.

As I am now doing an end of month catch up for my word of the year, posts for end of month will focus on  images and some experiences that have been part of this month.

 

Let’s go: March 2022.

Early March is the anniversary of Mum’s death. I paid tribute here to her life, fifteen years since her passing. Gosh.

Mum would have loved this camellia. Grown by dear B. Autumn time is ace.

You started out with a lot of rain and that was NOT fun in many, many places. Severe flooding and more. It did not directly affect us. We also stayed off the roads around here which can be severely affected by water and run off from paddocks and streets. Yes we still have paddocks!

I managed to visit places to check the Wyong River and it was both amazing and terrifying. When I saw its speed and force coming down from the hills, to the lake and then eventually into the ocean, I saw its power. No-one could survive in that water…and I saw debris and even a whole tree!

I went back to Soldiers Beach where I always find some grounding and this was no exception. Whilst it is a shame to see the beach erosion and rocks exposed, it “is” what nature does over time. And an east coast low is one that caused much havoc and heartache further north and west of us and I cannot fathom the awfulness of having the levels of water which inundated homes, schools, public buildings, churches and shops. And it is still threatening more. AND people are no longer in their homes…it’s tragic.

My Dad went to hospital after a cut on his leg turned nasty and an infection developed. At 98 he DID not find hospital comfortable event though his treatment was excellent and he was home after 2 days. I visited him 10 days later and whilst he was recovered from the infection, the experience left him shaken. He shared lots with me. And I did not take any photos.

Dad has decided against that, and he hates seeing himself (limited anyway these days with macular degeneration) as he looks so old. He does. It was too dangerous on the roads for me to come immediately he was home. My ‘pit’ stop here at St. Ives.

I also had another trip back down home town Manly memory lane, enjoying some beach shots after the awful rains and heavy seas. I ventured to North Head for a scenic lookout but it was closed! I managed a couple of shots from the side of the road. I slowly wended my way back down steep hills where I did my driver’s licence test in 1967, to land at Little Manly Cove. A lovely spot that is still special and in my memory from the 1960s.

 

Schools are doing it tough with Covid being the main reason.

In our family, adults and kids have been affected with doses of Covid (despite being fully vaccinated) and the virus has affected all in different ways. The places for gathering of crowds are doing a “great job” of spreading covid it seems, and the public officials and governments are doing little in year 3 to care or cater for changes. 

Yes there is a Federal election coming and we shall see ‘the promises’ of the parties unfurled. In N.S.W. we have another year to wait thanks to fixed terms.

Meanwhile, we as over 65s will be getting a 4th vaccine, along with our flu immunisations. Neither of us want/needs to be sick as we have underlying health conditions. Fingers crossed we stay OK.

This shot, from harmony day at school, delighted Grandma to see her 2nd youngest & youngest granddaughters.

Our youngest granddaughter celebrates her 7th birthday and I think with great fondness and excitement of the pre-dawn drive from the Central Coast to her parents’ then home, where her siblings awaited with their Aunt, on the homecoming of their father to catch us all up.

A very early morning…driving back to be Grandma on a baby’s BIRTH day

And I have had some health procedures…as they say, not related to my head and neck cancer, but to parts of me where there is skin…I cannot say anymore. However, what I did find out OUCHIE is how much local anaesthetics hurt. I thought the one in my cheek was awful but that paled into comparison by the one(s) in a place I cannot say. And the gynaecologist told me “I have never had to put so much local in….” sorry, I didn’t say because “OUCHIE x 10”. Biopsies for face/arm seem OK as have no news (as in the good news part). Second procedure I will hear more about soon to confirm what I have. I may decide to share privately because I had never known of it. Sigh. Being a woman..of older year, not fun…NO photos!

And we had a bit of a cull of books, texts and more. Some people are coming to pick up quite a few and it is pleasing to share these as we no longer work nor volunteer in the places.

 

Some fun with messages to and from my fave Aussie author: Trent Dalton. I bought my tickets to the Newcastle Writers Festival on line and had to share the news with him. We met there 3 years ago after Boy Swallows Universe’s publication. This time, he is there to talk about Love Stories (which I AM trying to finish by next Saturday) and in the book he mentions the Dalai Lama…hence our chat!

 

I have spent some time reflecting as March ends and I am reminded of what I like to do most:

  • stay connected with others, including via social media and blogging
  • have a cup of coffee somewhere most days
  • chat with my husband, especially at our night time catch up around 9 p.m.
  • enjoy being in nature which is pretty easy to do where we live right now
  • make something art/design wise that is just for me and the process
  • reduce my attention (hyper vigilance) on health matters…a tough assignment but I know I need to do this, as my G.P. and I talked about it recently.

And during the weekend before this post goes live, we attended a one year old’s birthday morning tea. His family lives next door and it was cool to catch up with them. During the one year of his life, as the family was in lockdown as we were, this family got some of the packs of little cakes that our grandkids couldn’t enjoy. It was special to be able to connect and share the joy of a little’s one birthday!

And some more from nature. Love the chance to get out into nature that is relatively close by…and before it rained some more!

The two of us never have a reason to dress up much at all these days in retirement with a social and work-type life non-existent (it’s fine!) so we did for the birthday party and I just had to capture these…

And even thought it is not quite over, March, you can march on.

Bring on April where I will be sharing more about my goal to be more self compassionate.

So pleased to have found “the middle ground” for my link up and hosting.

Yay for changes of mind, kind blogging friends and a patient Tanya who helps make my blog images. Thank you!

Denyse.

Denyse Whelan Blogs Is a Community

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post… NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

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Denyse Whelan.

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The Month That Was: February 2022. 9/51. FINAL. #LifeThisWeek. #280. 13/2022.

The Month That Was: February 2022. 9/51. FINAL. #LifeThisWeek. #280  13/2022.

February 2022.

I was going to give away blogging. I was feeling stale and like I had already said what I wanted to share about in this forum.

I did let myself sit with those feelings and thoughts for a while as I have learned over the years not to act upon them quickly.

So I did some of this:

Be kinder to myself

What did I learn from the time spent?

  • That I need to keep my blog going as it is like a part of my life’s history
  • That I do not need to please others to keep blogging
  • That others actually understand more than I may have thought
  • That I can make a shift in my thinking, and blogging practice and run a link up too
  • That I have an outlet for my words and photos…

The History of Life This Week Link Up.

I was blogging most days of the week back in 2016 and there were quite a few friendly link ups. On Mondays, Kirsty used to have “I Confess” and when she was leaving blogging to concentrate on her business and busy family life, I thought why not have a go. I had already been posting  a topic each Monday called “life this week” so that’s where I went with it.

Life This Week is the new link-up from here, on Denyse Whelan Blogs.

Starts: Monday 12 September 2016.

Each Monday I’ve been using the topic “Life This Week” which for me has meant anything I came up with that seemed relevant for that week. It might have been something topical from the news, or something in my life and from time to time I joined in the link-up on Kirsty’s blog.

Started Life This Week Link Up. Sept 2016.

And the very first link up had….24 bloggers link up!! Yay for them…sadly many are no longer blogging but that’s life!

Moving on to the news:

It’s all in the blog post I have linked up to the FINAL Life This Week…so do have a read! Please.

Thank you for continuing to be part of this community. Here’s to seeing you back here on Monday 14 March!

Denyse.

and from Bernard who is pleased I AM still blogging…and Happy Birthday for 27th!

 

Life This Week. FINAL 28.2.2022.

This is opening 9 hours earlier for me to add my post…I am not awake at 5.a.m. Mondays! 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a kind thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

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Telling My Story. Christmas Memories Edition. #FestiveBonBon. 130/2021.

Telling My Story. Christmas Memories Edition. #FestiveBonBon. 130/2021.

When I read that my friends from blogging, Debbie from here, Sue from here, Jo from here and Donna from here too, had a plan for a one-off Christmas related link up, I could not resist.

I am definitely a Christmas ‘Kid’ with memories galore.

Team #FestiveBonBon even has a cute photo and questions. And link up icon IN CHOCOLATE colours. Nice one!

I will do my best to respond, and as I am not only a Christmas sentimentalist, but also have a LOT of photos as memories, then I think I have some ideas.

 

Christmas Tree – do you have one, when does it go up, who decorates it, is there a theme or is it miss-matched?

YES.

  • Traditionally (my traditions) ours went up the weekend before my birthday (30 November) because after that it was close to my Mum’s birthday and we didn’t want to take over her date. BUT more importantly….sorry Mum, is WHO decorates/d the tree?

 

  • EVERY grandchild does. At least those I can corral. Back in the first years/decades of being grandparents I admit I hyped the whole “Christmas at Grandma’s and Papa’s” decorating Sunday (mostly) and asked the parents to leave…or at least help Mr W with the myriad of lights, outside decorations and more to be adoring the house.

 

  • IT WAS FUN…frantic and the best.

Christmas music was played: Holly Jolly Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and occasionally more traditional music – see next question. I still have many CDs and playlists and they are now my car accompaniment during December.

I digress. Not a chronological post. Sorry. Not sorry.

  • Grandkids started happening for us in 1996 – the first born 2 days before Christmas that year. She got to add the star to the tree in 1997. My rule? Youngest puts star on tree. (Sadly, this year in our house, it was 71 year old me!)

 

  • I bought a new decoration for each grandchild each year…so 1996 one had many more than say 2013 born on. We have grandkids born in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015. I labelled each one with date too. Some had photos in them. Before we moved house, and downsized the Christmas tree, giving our 1994 one to our daughter and her 4, I gave each grandchild their tree decorations from our house in a special box for the family Christmases ahead.

 

Christmas carols & songs.

I have enjoyed singing both the carols of Christmas (traditional and Australian themed ones) since I was in a church choir – I think I went to be social and I loved the singing, and got to learn some teaching skills helping little kids at Sunday School- aged 12 t0 14. Dad always had music playing in house at Christmas but can’t specifically recall Christmas songs.

  • I love to sing and in a group or teaching some kids and I may not have been a keen musician nor able to read music but I could hold a tune and loved teaching songs at Assembly and for Christmas concerts.
  • I particularly enjoy the Australian carols: The North Wind, The Silver Stars are In the Sky and more.
  • Remember for us, teaching in outback NSW was a very hot time as school ends and yet, we still put on traditional Christmas plays, songs and Santa always visited.

I have, as mentioned earlier, a huge number of CDs and even great songs from Hi Five and The Wiggles (all part of grandparenting back then) bring me joy. Santa Wear Your Shorts is one I recall kids singing at school carols too.

In a Rusty Holden Ute is one I remember a class doing back at RPS when I was principal.

I have very eclectic taste. Obvs.

 

Christmas books.

My favourites are always those I read to my kids, then their kids and to some classes. Way back I used to share a golden type book about the story of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. I had a collection of various Father Christmas story books, and Santa Claus ones too. They are now all in other people’s houses, and I hope still being enjoyed.

I loved reading them to little ones and seeing the sense of awe and wonder.

I don’t have any that are mine nor am I really interested. However, I recall a series of short stories, Maeve Binchy perhaps, about coming home and Christmas. Long gone like my memory.

 

Christmas movies.

As mum and then,  Grandma I would watch movie length cartoons on TV as we had broken up for the year, and it was a nice distraction to have on a hot day inside while I probably made Christmas gifts.

And here’s on oldie. Back in the early 1960s Mum and Dad entertained neighbours and friends on Christmas Eve, and Dad would drop me and bro up to local Cinema in Balgowlah to watch White Christmas or something similar. I liked it. I must ask my brother if he recalls. We must have been collected by someone, and with no RBT, and within 2 kms of home anyway maybe having a festive driver do that didn’t matter.

And then in mid 2000 teens, I found Its a Wonderful Life. I like it so much it IS my go-to each Christmas to remember ‘why we each are important to each other’

Christmas cake.

I love(d) eating small amounts of home made Christmas cake. Made my own for a few years back in the 1980s and certainly enjoyed those my mum made back in the day. I liked the tradition of making them when the kids helped stir the cake mix. For photo purposes only. Neither like(d) Fruit Cake!

I also recall Christmas puddings made by Mum and wrapped in pudding cloth. Back in the day  1950s I recall the threepence and sixpence you might find in a slice of pudding…and not break your teeth. My paternal grandmother kept pudding coins I recall. Mum’s recipe here…and no I have never made it but it’s in Mum’s handwriting so treasured as a memory.

Chocolate nuts or fruit.

Now I can physically barely eat any, but cherries (black more than red) are part of Christmas, lychees  and so are mangoes.  And watermelon. We always had fruit and a variety of fresh nuts on the table. With a nutcracker. Seriously. Only ever used at Christmas.

Christmas traditions

See above…

However, there were some when our kids were young.

  • Christmas Eve I was always tired out – school had just broken up, and husband was finishing off whatever jobs he was doing around the place, so I took the kids to Christmas Eve Mass. I know! I did it because…tradition (and I became a catholic to be same as husband and kids, none of us are no longer practising) and I loved the music and the nativity…and then we got Maccas for tea. Still a novelty in 1980s.

 

  • Home with takeaway & after eating,  and some last minute preparations by kids for carrots out for reindeer, one of my orange biscuits or piece of shortbread for Santa, and quite possibly a can of Coke. Honestly I can’t recall but B liked drinking Coke then.

 

  • Kids laid out their Santa Bag (pillowcases) and Santa Stockings under the tree…and then off to bed. We watched/listened to Carols from Melbourne whilst trying to equalise sizes and presents for kids. Not wrapped ever. But if son seemed to get more (volume wise) I would remove for his birthday in 3 weeks.

 

  • We then waited…and bit the carrots and poured out the water, ate the treats, drank the drink…and hopefully kids were asleep and we left sack at bottom of their beds. Tired out.
  • When they woke in the morning, I was there with the trusty camera and it was a very special start to the day. As the kids got older (7 years difference, so one was 14, other 7) I sometimes actually ‘woke’ them because we often had a busy day ahead.

 

  • I used to make gifts for family, friends and even our doctors…(still do, actually) and one recipe honed by me back in 1990s I call “orange biscuits”. These are still much loved by my daughter and as she was turning 50 in covid lockdown, I made a batch and sent them to her. I “will” make some for her Christmas too. I also used to make Almond Bread. Yum. But not anymore as my mouth couldn’t bear it.

 

What’s on the table?

So many memories here.

  • However, musts for us were Christmas Bonbons to pull open, wear the silly hat, and share the silly jokes. I made placemats some years. Even a Christmas Trivia Quiz.

 

  • There were always festive treats on the table before any food was served! Cherries, lollies (and liquorish allsorts were a must, along with chocolate almonds), something savoury maybe like home made cheesy biscuits and some prawns in mayo on jatz, and some smoked salmon on rye bread would have been served before lunch.

 

  • I used to drink Mimosas too,  Orange juice and champers…As a wee kid though, MY Papa would have cold little bottles of Cherry Cheer for his 2 grandkids

 

  • Then there was LUNCH.

 

  • A mix of hot meal and cold too. So much food.

 

  • Always (back then) hot chickens, leg of pork  and many roast veggies, gravy, and some cold ham, turkey,  and salads with bread rolls. And later, slices of pudding for those who liked it, with home made brandy butter (yum), cream & ice cream and for others, something from the freezer ice cream selections.

 

  • On a hot day we were always grateful for air conditioning if available! And a pool too….

This was at LUNCHtime…and then, by about 6 p.m. we might serve up some leftovers too before, hopefully, all went home (with leftovers) ….sigh. Food coma.

Before & after head & neck cancer & adapting to no family at Christmas time.

 

One of the BIG Christmas Days…where Mum – see waving hand would have cooked a lot at home and brought it with her and Dad. Happy & sad memories here as my Aunty, back, second from right, would not be with us the next year.

Christmas memories.

  • They started at Dapto in 1950s for me, with the old fashioned Christmas lunch and all the spoiling that grandkids (me and bro) get. Then to dad’s Mum in Wollongong  for Christmas dinner/afternoon tea. Not as enjoyable though.

 

  • By the time we moved to Sydney however, and in early 1960s, my parents agreed we no longer wanted to spend Christmas day in the car, so Christmas would be at our place, and relatives were welcome to our place.

 

  • We became adults, and after marrying B & I  had a child by 1971, so Christmas and having the lunch at Mum and Dad’s was great as we were staying on school holidays and then over time, we moved to sharing some of Christmas Day with B’s family.

 

  • We bought a house, had teaching roles  and stayed in Sydney from 1978, with a second child added, and we still trekked to my parents most times until one day, Mum tired of it all, 1985 when her sister died suddenly, and I was given the family gig. It was fine, even though the reason my mum stopped was borne of grief and the need to pass the baton.

 

  • I probably did this closer to 2010s ish in our family if they wanted to do Christmas. Sometimes it became very complicated with extended families so we might share present opening instead on Christmas morning.

 

  • Over the next decade, we would have hosted, or gone to my brother’s and sometimes to my husband’s family. It becomes complicated for sure as families grow, change and move away.

 

  • Early 1990s we had a brand new  (big!) house and wanted to share the new space, and did Christmas then.

 

  • Grandchildren’s arrival changed so much for Christmas traditions, see above, but none more memorable than 1996, when the parents of newborn J, had ‘day leave’ from the hospital to have Christmas Lunch.

 

  • Grandkids, families changing and more meant that there were MANY more variations to Christmas Days until 2014 when, as we had sold our house in Sydney (and all those Christmas memories 1997-2013) our daughter did family Christmas.

Now?

The stories are as above.

And with no further ado, I am going to use this post for a Special One-Off Edition of Telling My Story!

The Christmas Memories One for the LAST #LifeThisWeek “Wishing”

I hadn’t thought of that till now. Thank you ladies!!

 

 

All I want for Christmas is…

The writing of this post has given me a better and greater appreciation of my Christmas memories as a 72 year old, and for that I am

G

R

A

T

E

F

U

L

May your dreams and hopes for Christmas and the Holiday season come true.

May you all go well.

May you be happy.

May the new year hold good health for you and yours.

I am very grateful for the blogging community always.

And for my continued good health post head & neck cancer!

Denyse.

On Monday 13 December 2021, @HeadandNeckCancerAustralia’s Virtual Choir for Christmas will be launched.

A first for Australia! I am in it too.

 

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My Head & Neck Cancer Patient Update. Been A While! 51.1/2021.

My Head & Neck Cancer Patient Update. Been A While! 51.1/2021.

I am coming up to four years since my head and neck cancer diagnosis on 17.5.2017.

I wrote a great deal over the years about my head and neck cancer to both help myself process it all, over the many times I faced challenges including surgeries and long recovery times and I wrote for others. This is why my blog has a head and neck page to be found here.

Then in late November I wrote this.…and was very pleased to put my head and neck cancer posts away. Even though, I have included parts of this in various posts such as Life This Week and Telling My Story since, today is the first time I am writing an update.

What Happened When I Was Issued With My Upper Prosthesis.

  • I smiled A LOT.
  • I had an expectation to be able to eat foods I had missed.
  • I was told, I now know was a feeble attempt at a joke, by one of the prosthodontists, that I had to bite into an apple before I could leave the day I got those teeth.
  • I am so annoyed  disappointed, even over two years later, that I was misled with some kind of joke because life WITH an upper prosthesis is nothing like having my own teeth or even an upper denture.
  • I have no feeling in my upper lip as it too had cancer and was partially reconstructed.
  • I could eat some foods I had missed initially: missing crunchy foods….but I have to guide whatever I am eating towards my mouth and use my tongue to sense what is coming, and then the food is put in my mouth by me
  • I still have challenges.
  • I still, after all this time, cannot always guess the right amounts of a food and suffer with mouth spillage at the sides.
  • I often put too much on a fork or spoon…because I am hungry…because the food is warm…because that is life time habit

These are lessons I am continuing to learn each day…and it’s my third year of living with the reconstruction in my mouth.

My inner mouth – gums at the front and behind the upper prosthesis are skin that was harvested from my thigh. My palate is the same. My wonderfully kind and knowledgable prosthodontist (not the ‘joker’) tells me skin from the leg was never meant to be in our mouths so it will always be a challenge in terms of my management to keep it healthy as I can and for me to put up with the level of daily discomfort.

What Life Is Like For Me Now As a Recovered and Well Head & Neck Cancer Patient.

  • There is no sign of cancer within me. My head and neck surgeon does not need to see me until September 2021 – a full year since last visit
  • I am seeing my prosthodontist in mid May to have a 6 month check and CT scan for bone changes.
  • I am self-caring well for the upkeep of cleanliness inside my mouth using a water pik daily, a micro brush around the abutments I can reach and cleaning my upper prosthesis, partial denture and remaining 8 teeth with care.
  • There has been no addition gum overgrowth and for that I am incredibly grateful.
  • I keep smiling.
  • I love to share my story.
  • I continue to be an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia
  • I will reduce my local head and neck cancer group attendance
  • I will help raise funds in the Soup for the Soul event locally where I have sourced some great help from a cafe.
  • I will share the stories of others along with my updates on social media.

BUT…here is some more:

  • I continue to learn that I have to live with restrictions.
  • I can no longer eat anywhere other than home unless it’s a manageable ‘cake’ and ‘coffee’ somewhere.
  • It makes travelling overnight anywhere a bit challenging. Mostly I can take my own foods and utensils.
  • I cannot go to someone’s place for a meal and I think…even though I do not make any fuss of it…most people really do not even think to perhaps ask what may be suitable. To offend no-one, I have to say, it’s a morning tea or afternoon tea or very light lunch that I can probably eat.
  • I feel, even though I look normal, that to understand what is happening for me inside my mouth it is better that I admit to what are my limits and stick to them as I do not want to offend….
  • It is messy when I eat.
  • I often have food spill from the sides of my mouth (particularly if I have put a bit much in) and I constantly wipe the sides of my mouth needing paper towels and tissues nearby.
  • I always have water close to me.
  • I often eat alone…not because I want to but because I take so long and I can no longer really eat and talk…my husband has kindly told me, of the ‘look’ of food at the front of my mouth.

Why Update Now?

  • I was sore eating yesterday. Stinging sore inside my mouth.
  • I know I have to expect a certain level of this.
  • My mouth is much smaller inside than I remember …because of the hardware that’s been placed inside.
  • I knew I had to change somethings about my eating habits to help.
  • I did this initially by using a large teaspoon for cereal instead of a dessert spoon. It was better.
  • I have now cut up foods into small pieces and resist putting larger (as I was) amounts inside.

I am admitting my self-care and knowledge of how to help myself needed to be written and spoken about. For too long, I have looked and sounded right…and that is good…but for many of us (and now I include me) we are never the same post- head and neck cancer.

I am forever grateful for my professional team who have ensured my wellness to this day!

I used to think I couldn’t admit to having some issues because I have had such an awesome and great recovery. I now know that in being human…and a vulnerable one at that, I had to ‘out myself’.

This is why I posted today.

Update: got some largeish teaspoons. And, have cut up food into smaller pieces. Winning at changing habits!

Take care everyone,

Denyse.

 

 

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