Things are going swimmingly

The rain is coming soon – the first few drops have sent me scurrying inside.  I have been weeding the garden.  Hardly earth shattering news, but for me, right now, something of a triumph to have both motivation and energy to apply to the task in hand.

My new health regime requires organic vegetables.  They are easy enough to purchase but generally have a price premium.  Common sense dictates the logical answer is to grow my own.  The lettuces that went to seed late last year have been yanked out of the planters and replaced with kale and cabbages.  You don’t need lots of space to grow a few veggies.

I decided to get some more seedlings in advance of the rainy weather predicted to hit on Friday, now finally arriving.  I cleared out a small raised bed beside the house, added some new compost, and planted broccoli and perennial spinach, beetroot seeds, rocket seeds, and a couple of marigolds to deter the white butterflies.  Watered them all in, and stood well back.

Saturday morning I went out to check on their well-being and was horrified to see that the snails had stripped one broccoli to the stem.  Organic vegetables don’t include using snail bait that leeches into the soil.  Based on experiments in plant protection at Tawharanui, where small plants get chomped by rabbits, I have decided to use old onion bags pinned down with kebab sticks, so my plants now each have a ‘skirt’ I hope will prove impassable to your average garden snail.  I have also used crushed egg shells on a few that are in a pot nearby, so it will be interesting to see what works best.  Both I hope.  Rocket seeds are up already.

Up-cycled onion bags, up-cycled egg shells, and rocket poking through. Big strides in three days!

All this is part of piecing my life back together.  I have started a course on just that subject, designed to help people get ‘off’ active treatment for illness and back to a normal life.  Have only been to one session – I think it will be OK, and it is always informative to talk to other people who have had a similar experience.  We had to write down what was concerning us.

To be honest I am not spending much time being concerned about anything.  I have made my future treatment decision, and am putting my trust in my own body, mistletoe, and cabbage pills.  No point in revisiting it.  Not like buying a new pair of shoes, where you always wonder whether they really are worth it.  This is not a game; there is no second chance.  I have even added value to the next 5 weeks of driving across town to attend the wellness course by booking into a pilates class en route.  To sharpen up on technique, and ensure I don’t end up lopsided.  An ‘end of treatment’ treat.  They didn’t say anything about that on the first night.  I have an extensive list – including a fitbit.  Seems the secret to fitness longterm is heart recovery rate.  That calls for adopting the latest technology I think, I can’t be bothered doing the maths when a small screen will work it out for me.  Some Jo Malone perfume is also on the list of treats.

I was however slightly anxious about the oncologist.  I’m picking not many of his patients say “Yeah, nah”.  Several enquiries led to one possible potential replacement in a different city, so not that practical.  It seems oncologists are of a kind, one and all.  I joking said to the tea lady at the cancer treatment centre that she could prescribe the drugs just as accurately as the oncologist.  Somethings are not so funny when it is almost true.  To erase my anxiety, I emailed him this week with the “yeah, nah” message in advance of our next meeting sometime in May.  Part of me thought he might well say, “yeah, nah” back, and suggest that I might be best served elsewhere.  Instead he said “I trust you have made an informed decision.  It is not what I would do.”  Fair enough, mate, but you are not me, and by the way, good luck with the hot flushes, if that is what you would do.

I have to conclude therefore, that the course has already taught me one thing – sort it out, don’t waste time worrying about what might happen.  It probably won’t.

Reminds me of a homily recently relayed to me:  These are uncertain times, so sometimes the best course of action is to create some certainty for yourself.   Metaphorically  speaking, if you are in a boat and it may or may not sink, get into the water, at least you will have some certainty.  I like it.  On Friday night our friends thought it was madness; you should always stay in the boat until the captain says to abandon ship (they are both engineers).  But that was before, when the world was predictable.  What about now?

I cannot read another word about Donald Trump.  He is beyond words.  I did see today there is a website for people who voted for him to post messages.  Someone has apologised and, as a Doctor, suggested he needs professional help.  Quite.  John Key gave his final speech in the NZ Parliament this last week.  A review in the paper says he was a joker, everybody’s mate, and explained why he was nick-named the smiling assassin.  Frankly not traits I valued in the leader of the country.  Bye bye.

This week also saw some bleating from some fellow co-owners of a commercial building.  I am currently being paid to be the client representative.  “I incurred costs” they moaned.  If only they had said what they were up too, I could have saved them the trouble/cost.  It was something of a satisfaction to be able to quote the minutes of the AGM.  Deafening silence has ensued.  The best bit though, was a message of support from a fellow committee member, who in addition to endorsing my stance said “good to see you are back to your old self”.   What?  Bitch?  Stickler for process?  Will not be pushed around by self-interested lawyers?  All of the above I hope.

I had a visit yesterday from my grown-up cousins.  I say that because they are the two oldest cousins, and I am one of the youngest.  There are 15 in all, 13 are women.  I was always a bit in awe of them, but of course the age gap has narrowed from my childhood days.  They were both missionaries; intelligent, well travelled, well spoken, well read.  We exchanged musings on the state of our parent’s generation relationships, our children, our lives.  The value of quality friendships that nurture and inspire, how life is too short for friendships which drain you rather than lift you up.

[Side issue:  my new cancer friend said “love you” as we parted after lunch last week.   I did think it was a strange thing to say but then, these are strange times for both of us.   When I saw her this week, before I had even sat down she said “Did I say that? I’ve been so worried you would misunderstand.  I only say it to my daughters.” and turned bright pink.  Laughing out loud, I quickly assured her I did not read anything untoward into it.]

My cousins declined to take any of our great-grandfather’s Bible pages (published in 1874 but now falling apart), but talked about how in China a village sustained their spirituality and hid their Bible by having one page each.  One of them was a librarian, as was my Mother, so it was comforting to think a librarian can justify destroying a book and a Bible at that!   “You’ve gone to a lot of trouble,” they noted.  You do, don’t you, when the big cousins are coming.  Vegetable frittata with salad, fruit flan.  Clean bathroom.  The least one would do.

So here I am, out of the boat and in the water.  Not brave enough quite yet to go to a business meeting bare-headed.  Waiting not so patiently for hair to regrow on my head; noting with some regret that it is returning elsewhere.  Feeling fit and strong, and suddenly very aware of how un-strong I was during chemo.  I have a to-do list, and I have a tentative timeframe.  5 more weeks of the course.  5 weeks to get to the end of my to-do list, grow enough hair to attend job interviews, and decide what the perfect job actually is.

I can’t touch the bottom, I don’t have a life-jacket, in my metaphorical adventure, but I can swim really well.

Got asked if I wanted some guavas, got given far too many; how I wish my future was a clear and how I hope it is as rosy as the jelly…

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About Ngaire Wallen

Landscape designer, thinker, partner, mother, reader, wanna-be writer keen to inflict my thoughts on the world.
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