A Late Winter Soliloquy.

I noticed today that it’s been two years since I last posted. My life took a u-turn in February 2014 when another rider attempted to take me out in the final of our SA BMX State Titles, came unstuck, and I had to wrench my bike around in mid-air to avoid landing on her face. i broke two metacarpals in my left hand, dislocated my little finger, burst my liver in two places and my right adrenal in one, an partially collapsed my right lung, although that wasn’t picked up until two years of breathlessness and pain later. I spent four days in hospital and against my better judgement I allowed the surgeon to talk me into pinning the broken bones. Turns out that was a very big mistake!

Six months later i still had very little use of the hand and was taken back into surgery to repair the damage to my tendons and knuckle that the first surgeon did. I’d just finished my Cert III in Horticulture and was back at work as a remedial massage therapist two days a week, and I was struggling with my health. To be honest, my health hadn’t been great since 2013 despite good food and lots of training and racing, and commuting by bike. i was struggling, and feeling worse by the day. I’d never regained full use of my hand and I had been trying to work around unexplained left hip socket pain that had started up whilst i was working on a lawn mowing crew back in 2014 but it wasn’t getting better. Then, three years after I’d thought i was done with menopause, I had an unexplained bleed. my OH went off to Bathurst in April, 2016 to race the Nationals, and I stayed behind to paint our kitchen, a job I’d been trying to get done for two years.

While he was away I went into a downhill spiral, health-wise. When he came back, I took myself off to the GP and was immediately launched into a series of day surgeries – cytoscopy, colonoscopy, hysteroscopy, D&C and biopsy, transvaginal ultrasound and biopsy, blood tests, CT scans, MRI. It turned out that the mass in my upper vaginal vault that had been dismissed my my specialist in 2010, when he’d removed a mass off my left ovary, was a rare form of vaginal cancer, an adenocarcinoma, that had grown to the size of a golf ball and was tethered to my bowel. At 52 I had been diagnosed with inoperable reproductive cancer.

With no time at all to take this in, I was booked in for chemotherapy and intense radiation therapy. I was to have five weekly doses of Cisplatin chemotherapy (later upped to six) and twenty-five doses of pelvic radiation therapy. I was also told, with no consultation whatsoever, nor regard for my being an abuse survivor, that iI would be given three doses of Brachytherapy radiation treatment. I was scanned again, tattooed, and sent for the first of my weekly blood tests. I was weighed, measured, and put on the production line. To add insult to injury, I was told by the head of the Chemo department at one hospital that I should be grateful because breast cancer patients had it so much worse.

At the same time that this was all happening, my OH’s ex turned up, after five years of silence, demanding to see him and have alone time with him in exchange for him being able to see his only child. OH didn’t want to be alone with her, and MIL thought I was being obstructive. It was a heart wrenching, gut wrenching mess that ended after three brief visits with the ex storming out after demanding that my OH “come home” to her. In front of me, and the inlaws.

Not really what I wanted to deal with at that time.

The ups and downs of treatment I’ve (mostly) dealt with in another blog, which i will link here when i figure out how. Suffice it to say that it was gruelling and protracted. During that time, I also lost my nine year old Cockalier, Jet, to congestive heart failure and a seizure.

Less that two weeks after I was given a tentative all-clear, I was resting up in bed with Lola, our rescue Cocker Spaniel when I smelt smoke. had a look out the back but couldn’t see anything, and didn’t think much of it as our neighbour often used his fireplace in summer as well as winter. two hours later I went to go to the toilet and let Lola out, and opened my back door to flames.

The fire took out the entire undercover area – my outdoor kitchen with it’s vintage furniture, the bike repair area, my tool cupboard and my OH’s bike repair area, then the indoor kitchen and half the roof.

Two weeks later, thieves targeted us and stole pretty much everything else we had.

we’ve been hit no less than five more times since.

Insurance is currently paying for our rental until the house is rebuilt, but it won’t be the little retro cottage surrounded by fruit trees that I’d spent four years renovating and working towards. the last theft involved someone unbolting our yard gate from the wall and digging up the concrete pavers, of all things. That, and the news that my daughter who had come over from Northern NSW to help me out thru the worst of the chemo and radiation, had decided to go back when her lease was up, taking her new husband and my grandson with her, meant that our decision was made. We were leaving SA too.

OH applied for a transfer and spoke to his bosses and area managers, who were incredibly supportive (as we have always found them to be, thru my busted hand and my cancer) and the next thing we knew, he was transferred and starting work in Northern NSW. I’m still here in SA packing our things for storage, selling off excess goods,   digging up a few of the fruit trees, and supervising the renovation of our house. As soon as it is finished, I will be putting tenants in place and leaving also.

We plan to buy in the Mid North Coast-Northern Rivers area, hopefully half way between where my adult children are living. In the meantime I will have my little potted forest to care for, until I can plant Riverworks again.

 

 

 

Scorching heat and hard slog

So it’s scorching hot here in the Northern Suburbs. And having day after day of over 30 degrees and into the forties, a few of my plants are looking rather sunburnt. Others are struggling.

Especially the poor Kiwiberry I have planted on the front fence. It’s not happy at all! Lost it’s leaves while I was away in NSW, grew some back, and promptly lost them all again the weekend before last. It’s going to have to be moved. I wonder if the other grape vine I have would do ok there instead….

The last couple of weekends have been a haze of heat and bmx, with the warm-up (literally!) meet for State Titles itself, and the State Titles this last weekend. We also attended the funeral of a friend, a very sad occasion. It reached 41 degrees in Gawler with a hot wind. It’s left me feeling rather wrung out, that’s for sure.

Tomorrow I have half a day off I’ll be up early spreading mulch, having been delivered a baby tipper truck load by a local tree pruner. It’s sat in my yard for a couple of weeks now so I’d better get onto it 🙂

Other jobs that need doing in the garden are essentially tidy-ups – moving a small wood pile, a very large and hardened mound of dirt, cutting the seed heads off the agapanthus that i’ve been procrastinating over, and repairing all my mounds around the new trees. My darling husband was in charge of watering whilst I was away for a couple of weeks after Christmas, and while he did keep most things alive in the heat, he also managed to obliterate every one of my carefully-constructed mounds….

Basic Banana Cake

Ever wondered what to do with overripe bananas? Freeze them for making cake 🙂

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You’ll need:

two ring tins

one small saucepan

one large mixing bowl

a potato masher

a mixing spoon

a teaspoon

a 1-cup measure

 

250g butter

6 frozen bananas

2 cups raw sugar

1 teaspoon bi-carb soda

3 cups wholemeal self-raising flour

2 cups milk

 

First of all, it’s the usual grease the cake pans and preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mash your defrosted bananas in the mixing bowl, ass the sugar and the butter that you’ve melted over a slow heat in the saucepan. mix well. Dissolve the bi-carb into the milk and add alternate amounts of the flour and milk into the mixing bowl, stirring well. once the mix is smooth, turn it into the cake pans and bake for 25 minutes or so.

 

this is another basic recipe that you can tweak to suit yourself with walnuts, LSA, sesame seeds, pepitas, nutmeg, ginger, cacao, cacao nibs, anything you can imagine, really 🙂

 

Easy Peasy Boiled Chocolate Cake

Busy mummas are always on the lookout for recipes that are healthy, easy, and quick so i’m going to be posting a few of my favourites from when i had four smalls underfoot. It’s really easy to involve kids in baking and it’s fun school holiday and rainy day distraction. This recipe of mine makes two ring cakes and was featured in the Joyous Birth Cookbook 🙂

 

you’ll need:

two ring cake pans

one large saucepan

one 1-cup measure

one dessertspoon

one teaspoon

one wooden spoon

 

250g butter

2 cups raw sugar

3 heaped dessertspoons of high-quality cocoa (or my preference, raw cacao)

1 teaspoon bi-carb soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or nutmeg, ginger, whatever you like)

2 cups water

4 eggs

3 cups wholemeal self-raising flour

 

Firstly, grease the ring pans well and set them aside. Turn your oven to 180 degrees to preheat while you make the cake batter. In your saucepan, mix the butter with the water, sugar, cinnamon, bicarb and cacao and gently heat to a slow boil. Stir  constantly while it’s heating as it may boil over 🙂 Turn off and leave to cool down for 10 mins or so, then mix in the eggs, add the flour one cup at a time, and stir till smooth. Pour into your buttered pans and cook for 25 minutes or so.

Easy Peasy!

 

I will normally add walnuts and/or LSA but basically, you can play with this mix using anything you like 🙂 my kids loved it 🙂

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The best-laid (gardening) plans….

Aside

So it’s been quite a while since i added anything at all to my blog…

i’ve been reeling from the news that despite all my efforts to eat well and be fit, between BMX and commuting by bike, my thyroid has let me down again and i’m massively B12 deficient…so it’s been rounds of tests and researching and starting on supplements along with the new season of racing starting up, not to mention i’m struggling with a partially torn and very inflamed right biceps tendon which is keeping me out of the garden so i can at least *hope* to be fit enough to race…but that’s a subject for another post.

today i woke up to a lovely, still, sunny day after a couple of weeks of wild, wet, windy weather. absolutely glorious!! so with the best of intentions, i saw off my OH to work with his usual massive packed lunch and went to head out into the garden.

But…whilst having my morning coffee i remembered i had bills to pay, i had to contact the real estate agent who’s supposed to be selling my house back in Coffs, i had to book a builder for an inspection on that property, then i checked the mountainbike forum, and you know how it goes. sucked into the time warp that is the Internet, it was almost 10am before i was out in the garden with my trusty vintage wheelbarrow.

and again my plans entered the paradigm shift that is working in the garden. i’d intended to plant the second fig tree today until i realised the spot where i want it is my sole wheelbarrow track into that part of the garden without removing a shrub – i do want to remove that shrub, but i had other plans today.

first i had to move a barrow-load of concrete rubble that for some reason that i cannot fathom the previous owner had used for garden borders. when i’m done, there will be a uteload of it, and i’m at a loss as to how to re-use it. suggestions please!!

rubble

i decided to move and pot up an Apricot Delight standard rose that was planted under our bedroom window in a much too shady spot. i don’t know where it will end up, but at least for now it’s in a pot where i can get some sun to it. i’d already potted up the other rose from that spot and that now resides with my MIL.

next thing was a quick duck back inside to Google why all the random clumps of spring bulbs that have popped up aren’t flowering – it’s possible that they are too crowded, too shaded and/or lacking in potash, so that’s a job for another day. i’ll feed them up till the foliage dies off then do a massive bulb lift and store.

the thing i love the most about a garden is that it changes as your plants grow, so many smaller plants and bulbs will need to be moved to sunnier locations, and i love rearranging 🙂

the rose moving job done, i started to make a mound for a future tree planting i’d planned, to shade that wall from the last of the summer afternoon heat. originally i’d thought i’d use a deciduous tree to be sure i’d get sun in winter, but again, the plan grew on it’s own so the mound from today is now sporting a dwarf Meyer lemon back a metre from my original spot of choice which will both shade that wall (eventually!) in summer but be far enough away to let the last of the light slip past in winter.

meyer lemon

distraction struck again when i went out the back to grab a packet of seeds and ended up weeding around the Pink Lady apple i planted before winter. i’m very happy to see that it’s about to break it’s spring buds and the comfrey, nasturtiums and catmint i planted with it have all grown and started to establish nicely, not to mention that the layer of grass clipping mulch has disappeared, hopefully dragged underground by worms 🙂

Pink Lady weeded

the mounds i’d made a couple of months ago in the bare patch of the front northwest corner of the garden haven’t composted down as much as i’d hoped. the climate here is very different from the sub-tropics that i’m used to and the rainfall much lighter – so i gave them a stir with the garden fork and, after finding a couple of Turk’s Turban pumpkin seedlings coming up from a random experimental planting, decided to thrown in a few more seeds in the mounds, just to see what would happen. i used Lebanese zucchini, more Turk’s Turban pumpkin, nasturtiums and calendula in random combinations because, well, just because i could 🙂 i’m thinking at the very least i’ll have groundcover while the mounds compost down a little more.

turk's turban pumpkin

with the weather closing in again i decided enough was enough and packed up, watered the mounds and Meyer lemon, and contemplated how little of this mountain of dirt i’ve managed to move as yet…really, really hoping my shoulder heals soon.

dirt mound

right now it’s raining again on top of the seeds i’ve planted and watered in, and i’m sitting back with a wine finishing off this blog post and watching the rain fall. life is very, very good 🙂