Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mortality and My Breast

Warning: This post will contain the word "breast" numerous times. Oh my! No, it's not really that salacious, saucy or sexy. But an attempt to explain why I've not been blogging at my usual rate of late. And I'm only mentioning it all now because I got the all-clear on Monday, and therefore with somewhat of a weight being lifted from my mind, now seems like an alright time to blog about it.

A little over a month ago, I found a lump in my left breast, which was accompanied by quite a bit of pain.

You know that thing that terrifies all women and immediately makes you feel like the world is rushing on very quickly while you're standing right in front of it. I booked in to see the doctor and talked it over with him and he said that if it hadn't cleared up within a week or two, to come back. With my age (24), he said it'd be more likely to be hormones than something dreadful like breast cancer, but you can't help but worry regardless...

In a couple weeks, the pain still hadn't gone away and I wasn't entirely sure about the lumpy bit. I booked in to see the doc again and was getting to be rather worried about it.

This time around, he did a breast check. Which was of course rather random, as I'm not in the habit of going into stranger's offices and taking off my top, so it was an interesting place to start... And he had cold hands and was apologising for them while I lay on the table with the rather silly/sarcastic part of my mind thinking, "Please, let's not talk and spoil this oh-so-special moment..."

It felt all clear to him (I was going to say "good," but that could be taken the wrong way), but he referred me to have an ultrasound done because the pain should have cleared up. I had that done a couple days after seeing the doctor, and that involved getting my gear off for strangers again. Noice. So there I am, in the radiology place having my breast smeared with ultrasound gel while I'm asking the girl doing it where she got her gorgeous shoes.

As you do.

It's strange, as you don't really know what else to do once the small talk is over and the ultrasound is just going on. Looking at the ceiling worked quite well (in the "Lie back and think of England!" fashion, I imagine). But trying to relax and stop one's mind from poking around at the deeper, darker thoughts of mortality and "This could be one ultrasound wand stroke away from some very bad news..."

It was such an ENORMOUS relief when the technician said that everything looked okay and to her eyes, and there didn't seem to be anything to worry about. I nearly fainted with relief and I think my parents nearly did too, when I rang them as soon as I got out of the radiology place to tell them the good news.

On Monday, I heard back from the doc that the ultrasounds were all clear of any cancer, fibroid-somethings and "shadows" (whatever they may be) and no follow-up is required. So hopefully the rest of things will work themselves out. And anyone reading this hasn't been too traumatised by the numerous "breast" mentions.

Now that this particularly deep worry is pretty much off my mind, hopefully brainspace will be freed up to come up with more cheerful, interesting and/or amusing blog entries.

Oh, I must add this while I think of it. It's one of the reasons I didn't tell too many people about it. But when you're not ill/have health concerns/whatever you probably don't realise how deeply unhelpful it is to say to someone to "be positive" or "pray" or "think well about it and it'll all be okay."

Being positive is great, prayer does work in some cases and thinking well is nice enough, but it's not what people with health concerns need to hear. Most of them are trying to be positive and when they share their worries that something serious might be wrong with them, they don't want some glib reply about the power of crystal healing/how they can be touched by an angel/will "definitely" be right as rain/etc.

This is mainly because it will make them want to shove a carrot right up your nose to see how "positive" and "prayerful" you feel about it. If someone's sharing their health worries, just try to be supportive. Listen. Offer help/care if you live nearby. Pray for them. Make them smile by finding things to laugh or joke about. Just don't go in with the "be positive and you'll be fine!"

Or you may just find a root vegetable in your nasal cavity.

Conversely, I must say thanks to the people I did tell who were fantastic with it all, particularly my parents, Glenn, Boss, Deb, Joshy, Mr DB, Nym and any others I may have left of the muchos, muchos, muchos gracias list (sorry if I have!). I have endless love for you all.
^ Easter lilly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

At lunch time, I had to wander down the street to get some things.

Not far from work, there’s a corner that’s somewhat blind. There was a truck stopped there in an odd spot and a group of people comforting a sobbing teenage girl. It was something about her dog, who hadn’t been on a lead and had run out in front of the truck.

I kept walking because there’s nothing worse than the feeling of being gawped at by strangers when crying. But the whole thing made me feel kind of tear-y because although some people are rather heartless when it comes to animals, so many people love their pets and they almost become (or do become) a member of the family. They can be a best friend, a confidant, an exercise buddy, replacement children, anything like that. And you still love them even when they wee on the best rug.

When I was on the return journey, the truck was gone, as was the group of people. What was left was a splatter of blood and flesh on the bitumen, with a dark purplish-red finger of blood reaching out to the gutter.

It smelled like iron and I had to rush past because it was somehow so horrible and final and the tears were prickling behind my eyes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Domestic goddess for death

This morning while slicing up cucumber to put on a rather delicious slice of seeded sourdough bread with cheese and tomato, I was reminded of things in the past relating to cooking, eating, grandparents, etc.

No, not cooking and eating your grandparents.

Although that might be perfectly acceptable in some cultures, this is Australia and I am a vegetarian. Not that omnivores would probably eat their relatives here, but you never know... Cheeseburger one day, leg of neighbour the next.

But back to the matter at hand.

The cucumbers from the deli were exactly the same as the ones my Pappa used to grow back on the farm. He died in 2000, and we never really continued on with the vegetable garden and the thin-skinned, pale green crisp cucumbers. Three slices of cucumber went onto the slice of bread and the rest was turned into the sentimental favourite of cucumber salad.

Which in turn reminded me of tomato spread. There were a whole lot of tomatoes to be used up due to being ultra-ripe, so I decided to try to make some. My Nanna, who died in 2005, made it regularly and wonderfully. But my skills with it are very hit and miss. Today was unfortunately a miss (the breadcrumbs had too strong a taste). C'est la vie.

Also dug out the recipe book of my Nanna's, which Mum gave me. I looked at Grandma Graetz's recipe for honey biscuits, which in my memory makes enough to last for about 30 Christmases and my Pappa used to make, rolling out on a marble slab with his strong, thick fingers. Too challenging. If one thing from the past didn't turn out today, best not to risk others.

But they must be attempted one day.

Strange how foods are so reflective for memories, people and places. Somehow with some things, it's almost like posthumous feasting.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Random things of today

^ Canna lilly leaf unfolding itself. The ones on the wander down the road are always so pretty and practically beg to be photographed.

^ Rescue remedy and M&Ms. Or one and the same thing...

^ I needed a new painting for the kitchen, so whipped this one up this afternoon. It was too hot to potter around outside or laze on the deck and read a book, so painting seemed like a good alternative. It's odd, but I like it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So I have loitered my life away, reading books, looking at pictures, going to plays, hearing, thinking, writing on what pleased me best. I have wanted only one thing to make me happy but wanting that have wanted everything.
- William Hazlitt


He's gorgeous, fun, has a wonderfully twisted sense of humour, and it's so Valentine's emo to write about that sort of thing. But it's strange how much you realise its importance when mortality enters the equation. And how things at the moment don't work so you'd be able to actually tell them about the entire scope of feelings.

Which always end up being more complicated than they should be.

But then life is like that. Or at least, my life is. If things ever became simple, uncomplicated and non-odd, it probably wouldn't actually be my life any more. You get used to things when they're peculiar.

And today did involve chocolate and random Valentine's SMS's from random friends who were getting in the schnookums sweetiepie mood and sharin' the love. Aww, bless.

Happy Valentine's Day, all :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm approaching having taken around 19,000 photos with my camera since I got it back in September 2006. Rather excessive, perhaps. Another "perhaps" is that I should have included a photography course in my comm studies at uni. And yet there's part of me that thinks I'd be driven slightly mad by having to follow assignments in that university fashion when it comes to photos.

From what friends had to do in their photography work, it never really inspired me or made me think, "You know, I must study this..." Plus I did have a rather love-hate relationship with cameras. I loved the one my parents own, which is all shutters and various lenses and filters and wonderfulness. The camera I owned resolutely refused to do what I wanted it to do and made me want to throw it down a well.

But digital... Oh, digital.

So many possibilities! And all so very simple and ridiculously fun, when you're using the more ridiculous settings that seem to be more novelties on the camera. Solarization? Fantastic. But it makes most things look like they've been grated. And then the work digital camera that I occasionally borrowed was magnificent in an elderly way.

Then I got my camera. Which goes almost everywhere I do.

And macro's the hell out of everything. But there are so many details and patterns and oddities in the minute detail...

In other thoughts, The Cook and The Chef is back on. The opening scene tonight looking down over the view to Tanunda and Nuriootpa from Mengler's Hill was just homesick-making. Drat it.

Alive and dead

Random things

A collection of random things.

The ring that makes me think of Daleks for some reason (Exterminate! Exterminaaaate!). The most delicious jellybeans known to man (yes, the ones from the pharmacy). And the strap of my handbag.


Also, the best thing since sliced bread, buttered and with sprinkles all over it: Free Pacman, Free Space Invaders and Free Asteroids. There's also free Tetris and other things. Retro goodness.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Little sod could be trouble..."

Just finished watching an episode of the Robin Hood thing on ABC.

Oh my.

It's not a good thing, you'd think, when it makes Robin Hood, Men In Tights look like an historically accurate piece of drama. And I'm not sure whether it's meant to be intentionally hilarious, or is unintentionally so?

Whatever the case, it did make me laugh.

Especially with all the leather.

Now I really want to watch Robin Hood, Men In Tights again.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Part of me isn't impressed by the rate rise during the week, although I can understand why it's happened. The other part of me is even less impressed by the Commonwealth Bank increasing its rates above the RBA's increase. I think it's purely to pay for their utterly terrible ads with what may or may not be a faux-Paul Hogan and the other with the stony-faced cricketers.

Whoever told them those ads were great was obviously insane. Or smoking crack. Or both. I think I hate them just a little for it meaning that we're inflicted with said ads during the cricket. And any other random time. Although I don't hate them as much as I hate the impotence-piano-playing ad people.

Anyway. The RBA's been warning us for quite some time to curb our spending - "put the credit card down and back away slowly with your hands in the air, don't even think about that enormous TV and your home loan won't get hurt" sort of thing.

There was a letter in one of the papers during the week that was something along the lines of "Blame Rudd! It's all his fault!" and I remember thinking, "Yes. Blame the government. The two-month-old government. Ignore what the one before it did in its years in power..." What were they expecting? Rudd to sweep to power, reduce interest rates for the first time since 2001 and then hand out ice-creams for afters?

I'm somewhat surprised by Brendon Nelson saying the government of J-Ho handed over the economy in great shape and we'll all be roon'd by reformation to the industrial relations laws. But then not. If the government and opposition didn't engage in finger-pointing, I think we'd all be deeply disappointed. Or so stunned we'd all keel over backwards.

Australia is a mid-sized economy, which makes me wonder whether the government has as much of an impact on interest rates as some may like to believe. Well, they would have some impact with such things as tax cuts, which can give people more discretionary spending money and has an effect on what gets spent and where (not just by individuals, but by the government itself). The US sub-prime crisis thing and other global market moments of instability also have an effect on what happens here.

I feel sorry for the people these rate rises are putting under mortgage stress. Although I have a relatively small loan, I'm still not overjoyed by any increase in rates, because it means it'll take longer to pay off. Hate to think what it would be like for the people who are struggling with payments and/or face losing their homes.

^ Photo from the other day around sunset.

The fun never stops...

What a peculiar day.

I straightened my hair this morning and the straightening strength lasted for oh, say about half an hour? (pic of somewhat straighter hair is there on the right >) And then the natural curl reasserted itself. Somehow I imagine, if it were able to speak, it would say something like, "You'll never take me alive! Ahahahahahaha." Or something along those lines.

Then the whole day has been rather cold, dark and dismal in what I can only imagine is a foretaste of winter to come. Had to dig the heater out of its summer hibernation and am currently pondering getting wood in and lighting the fire (as the neighbours have wisely done).

Aside from that, there was something inside this afternoon that smelled remarkably of parsley. The only fresh herbs inside at the moment is some rather sad-looking basil. When I kicked my shoes off, I discovered where the parsley smell was coming from. There was a sprig of it in my right shoe. It must have gotten in while I was climbing around in the herb garden outside. I felt rather silly. And garnished.

Wow, what an exciting weekend...


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

*insert happy dance*

Last night, it looked like the only thing in the mailbox was something from the CFA about "Is your home in a fire zone?" Which was rather depressing, because a) yes, I live in an area prone to cinder-ification and b) where was my Doctor Who box set!?!?!?

The answer was that the the little note that lets you know to go to the post office and pick up a parcel was lurking right at the bottom of the letterbox, where the spider lives. But it was there! (Hurrah!) And the post office was closed by that time! (pantomime-style Boo!)

At lunch, I headed to the post office with beating heart and joyous step. Mainly because there's been nothing decent on TV for ages and a box set with 1016 minutes or whatever it is worth of material will help to fill in a few moments of dullness. Not that things will be any better when the writer's strike ends - things are so gloriously average from the US in recent years.

Not that all English television is automatically good. I remember watching a little of some very shouty Jerry Springer-esque talk show with an incredibly aggrivating host who tried to pick fights with the "guests" in a "I'm the man with the microphone, shut your face!" kind of fashion when I was there.

It was actually kind of shocking.

I mean, yes, the British have come out with Corronation Street and Eastenders and so on, but they were quite tasteful compared. And perhaps Australian soapies could learn a little from their British counterparts. It wasn't even an end-of-season episode and they were killing characters off! And putting people in the boots of their cars and driving around like nutters. Before crashing and dying while sisters-in-law whinge about what a schlaaaaaaaaaaaag the lady in the boot was. Possibly because she was blonde.

Anyway. Doctor Who is fantastic. I quite love the bit in Evolution of the Daleks where there's the two daleks in the sewers having a bit of an office gossip about their leader and thinking he wasn't good. All that was missing was a watercooler.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Domestic Bliss

I wanted pumpkin, and realised I hadn't bought any on Friday. This meant a wander down to the deli was in order. They have a fantastic range of organic fruit and vege. Mostly they're too hard to resist... Which would explain why I ended up with far more than just pumpkin.

Luscious, sweet cos lettuce with leaves that put supermarket cos lettuce to shame. Verjuice and lovely peppery olive oil. Tomatoes in sun-brushed red with golden streaks, all of which come in a variety of shapes and sizes (and they smell incredible, too). Fresh basil with flowers that look rather different when you shine a torch on them. Warm nectarines that smell like they've just been picked.


It reminds me of the flavours and scents of fruit and vege we used to grow on the farm. As much as supermarkets try their best and do have a far greater range of things both in and out of season, most things taste like little bits of plastic or tissuepaper (surrounded by plastic). Kinda miss all that sort of thing. Maybe it's time to get some big terracotta tubs and transform them into mini-gardens...