Kafkaworld's Blog

December 31, 2009

The cheesecake post

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 4:01 am

Christmas 2009 is definitely in my top 5 ever.  All my wonderful rellies visited, some stayed for a few days, some brought new and intriguing board games with impossibly complex rules which challenged the progress of my senility, one brought Molly, a beautiful golden retriever who fitted in happily with our dogs, and they all brought exotic food and delightful presents, like plants, music and books.  I cannot imagine a better week.

The Great Cheesecake Triumph was a an absolute highlight.  It is safe to write about it now as there is none left to share should anybody come up to scrounge a slice happen to drop in.  Joyclyn was entirely responsible for its creation, spending hours cooking and decorating.  Can you make another now we’ve finished that one oops I mean “You really shouldn’t have gone to all that trouble”.

Concentrating hard

Are we not beautiful?

and yummy!

My deepest thanks to all who contributed to the Vincent Christmas this year.  May you all step on board 2010 hopefully tomorrow, and disembark rejoicing this time next year.


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December 21, 2009

Oh Christmas Trees

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 2:21 am

There were two meditations on Christmas trees in The Age yesterday.

Michael McGirr writes that Christmas, far from being a festival of light, is a festival of “light in darkness”.  He notes the importance of the small rather than the large at Christmas time.  Find the star, the small light, follow it and allow it to illuminate the “deepest roots” of Christmas.  Kathleen Noonan (CM 19/12) speaks of similar ideas.  Bless just one person with the smallest of good deeds and watch Christmas come singing into your life.

Michael McGirr then proceeds to the Christmas tree and what it symbolizes.

“Everyone needs two Christmas tress, one that is plastic and one that is real.  The plastic one is for all that is fake about Christmas.  This one needs plenty of room under it to shelter all the desperate jollity, moral bullying and unreasonable consumer expectations of the season.  There are never any surprises under this tree.  There are packages in the predictable shapes and sizes that come with the hassles of Christmas.

But then there’s the other tree.  This one has had its roots in the earth and its branches in the air.  This is the tree that celebrates all that is genuine about Christmas.  There’s plenty that needs to go under that tree as well”.

Michael Leunig writes with his usual passion about “the captive tree: the wilting botanical corpse that will never rise to spread its arms in a forest and bring oxygen to the world”; “the pitiful young Pinus radiata” that “stands as a symbol of life and renewal but, alas, is also a picture of death and humiliation”.  He says he felt this way as a boy as he lived in a treeless industrial landscape.  Living in Townsville in the 50s and 60s, I felt the same way.  It was years before I learned that the vast tracts of skeletal trees we drove through on the way north or south, was the result of mass ringbarking and clearing.  It was a dry, dusty god-forsaken area and trees were generally absent and unimportant.

Dad would usually drive out to Blackwater Creek and cut down a small casuarina from the creek bed.  It always looked and smelled beautiful with its tinsel and lights, but I felt such a pang of regret when, a week or so later, the  tree would be stripped of its decorations, taken down the back yard and left to dry and die in the harsh January sun.  So when I was, in my turn, in charge of the family Christmas, I insisted that we purchase a huge green behemoth which was assembled every year, then taken down and packed away until next Christmas.  No living creature was harmed in this process.

Shortly after moving to Bribie, we unpacked the tree  for Christmas and were disconcerted to see that a family of rats had made its home among the softly plastic branches.  Nobody really minded, but the tree was now unusable for festive purposes.

For a few years after that, we reverted to sneaking around the dunes at night with a handsaw, but harvested only one smallish branch for Yuletide purposes; and now we have a small-leaf fig in a big pot which is wheeled inside to hold up the fairy lights and look after mysterious parcels until Christmas day.  This is my happiest tree.  Before wheeling it inside yesterday, we had to carefully remove a leafy twig in which a garden orb-weaver had made its home.  I checked last night and all was well.  There she was, busily weaving a beautiful new web from the bush next door to where the tree had been.



December 18, 2009

My Dad

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 8:01 am

It’s my Dad’s birthday today.  As kids, we always remembered it because it is exactly a week before Christmas, the last hurdle we had to jump before the really good stuff happened!  Not very altruistic I suppose, but at least that was one birthday we never forgot.

So, at this time every year, I stop making lists and checking them twice, and revel in memories of my Dad.  He died over 20 years ago, and I couldn’t tell you the exact date.  I choose not to remember such a terrible day.  I like to celebrate his birth and subsequent life, not his death, because it was in his lifetime that he was able to give me gifts which nobody else could have done.  These are just a few of them.

1.  The Music. His first love was classical although he dabbled in a little jazz and adored the musicals.  My bedroom was next door to the lounge (do ‘lounges’ exist anymore?) so that on many nights, I would be lulled to sleep to the strains of the great romantic composers.  He loved the big orchestral works of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky at al.  In his youth, he had all of these on 78s and had arranged his bedroom so that he could turn his record player on and off without leaving his bed.  (Do ‘record players’ exist anymore?)  As I was reaching adolescence, Dad was discovering more contemporary composers.  The shattering first few bars of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ made quite an impact as did Prokofiev’s music for the ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet’.  Dad never really shared the passion my Mum and I had for ballet, but because I loved it so much,  boxed sets of ballet music often arrived on my birthday or were delivered by Santy.  When I was very young, Mum used to take me along to Covent Garden in London to see a ballet matinee.  As we left the house, Dad would remark,

“Don’t worry about the dancing Lindy, but do try to remember some of the music to sing me when you get home”!

2.  Humour. My Dad was funny.  He had a dry, subversive and sometimes cruel wit which had me in stitches.  He was also a sad man in may ways and his life was a struggle, so we didn’t always see this pixieish side of him, but when we did, it was precious.  He had  a great collection of funny books, and records.  He would have ‘Funny Record Nights’ when friends were invited to chuckle with the likes of Flanders & Swan, Noel Coward and many others.  We listened to ‘The Goon Show’ and ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ religiously.  I have some treasured letters from my Dad, and when my Mum died, I was able to read his early letters to her written when he was much younger and more carefree than I recall him to be and I enjoy seeing the humour sparkle from the pages.

3.  Support. He loved me a and supported me , sometimes.  A peaceable man, he  would avoid conflict at any cost, and during my adolescence and beyond, the least peaceful place in the house was in the middle of a fight between me and my mother.  She was having her own problems at this time, and my attitude didn’t help.  He would beg me not to get into arguments with her, but I was heedless and self-centred and didn’t realise until later the price he paid for my thoughtlessness.

So many regrets … but he would come through for me on important points like the purchase of my first transistor radio in the sixties.  I have been addicted to radio ever since!  One Christmas, he went to to the local record shop and bought me a collection of 45s from a list I had prepared.  He hated that music, but sat patiently through The Animals, Gene Pitney  and others long forgotten.  He drove me to the bus stop most mornings and would often take me all the way to school if I we were running late.  We would inevitably get stuck behind slow moving heavy earth moving equipment on the old single lane roads, but we didn’t care as it gave us more time to listen to the radio.  Some things never change!

Happy birthday Dad.  I love you.





December 16, 2009

Die Bye Bye Bloody Blackbird, die now

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 8:02 am

Last night, I went to the Famous Gleemen’s Christmas Dinner.  It seems to get bigger every year, and I was informed that the Titanic Ladies are now invited, and their partners and the Gleemen wives and the odd local pollie, one of whom is the Gleemen’s patron. I don’t know how the Titanic Ladies feel about being Titanic and didn’t like to ask.

I was rather dismayed to see Trevor load up the car with amps and microphones.  This could only mean one thing.  People would be performing.  Not only that, but they were self nominated so anything could happen.  It did!  Although to be fair,   some of the singers, when allowed to choose their own material and stay firmly within their comfort zones, produced some passionate and heartfelt singing. On the other hand, some of them had Eileen, the long-suffering keyboard player, dashing around like a terrier trying to locate the key.  She’s brilliant.  An aside: what sort of brain explosion leads a man to believe that if one verse is almost intolerable, the other 13 will improve matters in any conceivable way.  Just asking, no offence intended.

My heart sank when they indicated that a singalong was next.  The only time I like to sing along is with Thom, preferably in private.  ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ makes me feel as if I’m already in the delightful home for the slightly bewildered which my children are busy organising for me.  Compulsory singaolongs – absolute and utter hell.  So I stated loudly that I was too young to know the words.  Not true of course and nobody cared anyway as they all burbled away, gazing into oblivion, happy as clams, heedless of my ghastly visions of the future.

Is it too much to hope that by the time the kiddies bang me up, the singalong playlist will have been upgraded to Radiohead, Sex Pistols (‘Pretty Vacant’ would be appropriate), Lennon and Dylan?  Obviously, that is not an exclusive list but it’s a start.


So while they sang along, I had a little time to admire my new shoes.  They were cheap as well.

See what a deep thinking philosophical sort of woman I am.

December 14, 2009

Well that’s our excuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 7:10 am

If it’s December and you live on Bribie Island, it must be time for the annual expedition to Brisbane to do the Christmas Shopping.  As you have a number of friends and rellies, it can’t be done in one mad screaming afternoon at the Chermside Shopping Horror, so we are forced to hole up at a comfy hotel and swan around the mall for 2 or 3 days.  It’s astonishing how even  a small break away from everyday work and domestic responsibilites can renew your energy and joie de vivre.

Just to be sure we had a good time, we followed the traditional Vincent Yuletide Formula, one present for you , followed by one for me which is quite useful in ensuring that Santy doesn’t forget something important.

Speaking of Santy, we discovered 3 of his helpers who, having had a great party in the lobby bar, decided to ride the lifts up and down the atrium, just for fun.  I suspect they have been there ever since.

Santy's going up

Ho ho ho. How do I get off this ride?

The Lobby Bar, where we watched the beautiful people

December 9, 2009

Auditing cancer

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 8:28 am

It’s about a year ago that  my 6 weeks of radiation/chemotherapy was finally over.  No more driving up and down to RBH to be strapped onto the radiation table with a mask screwed down over my face.  No more watching a nurse dress up in what looked like a space suit before inserting a drip conveying some sort of cell destroying poison straight into my veins. What a relief!  Although, as they warned me, side effects continued to worsen for a few months.  So come Christmas, I couldn’t eat or even talk, a veritable nadir in my life.

Now, it’s a year later, my energy is returning and somedays I can even see the point of getting up in the morning. Enough time has passed for me to be able to take a more dispassionate view about what it all meant and how my life has changed.  There is bad news and good news.  Let’s get the bad over with first.

FOOD: Always a big issue for me.  I love food.  Sometimes I have lived for little else.  I still love food but have lost much of the capacity to enjoy it.  Chewing is difficult as nine teeth had to be removed before the radiation, which also knocked out my salivary glands and taste buds, could begin.  Some sense of taste has returned, namely sweet!  My most intense relationships with taste involve sugar.  I am practically vegetarian as attempting to eat meat is difficult and pointless. It all tastes like cardboard and won’t go down. My companion in wedded chaos has learned to make the most wonderful mushroom omelettes which he serves with a salad of fetta, tomatoes, lettuce and avocado. This is my basic survival diet, supplemented by wheatbix and icecream.  I am learning to accept this (no option) but occasionally fail to look forward to dinner much.  It’s a vast improvement on the tube feeding however, for which I am appropriately grateful.

TALKING: I cannot enunciate properly so people have difficulty understanding me.  If I have forgotten my water bottle, it’s even worse because my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth!  D and G won’t work at all and this is so frustrating.  My communication skills were never brilliant and this causes me to avoid social situations, especially any involving eating.

DEAFNESS: My hearing deteriorated rapidly after the chemo.  I also have some very interesting (but not to me) varieties of tinnitus.  Everywhere I go, there are chirruping crickets, and a large man practising his whipcracking skills in my ears.  Simply bizarre.

PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY: which is a fancy way of saying that my hands and feet are numb.  Thank you chemo.  Consequently, I drop things and am very unsteady on my feet.  My trek up Mt Everest has been cancelled. (Does anybody believe I was climbing Mt. Everest?   hmmmm?)

ALCOHOL: Since it has been implicated in the onset of the cancer, I have the wrong sort of mucous membranes apparently, my radiation oncologist has suggested I should restrict my drinking to sherry trifle or fruit salad with a little cointreau.  Yes well I’m sure she’s right and I certainly didn’t drink at all until treatment had stopped for months.  I now have the odd glass (with lots of water) but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I could certainly afford to cut down on the cheap plonk!

FATIGUE: This is slowly improving but I still find it doesn’t take much to knock me out.  Occasionally, I have to disappear for a quick siesta, particularly if the previous day has involved travel to Brisbane and back.

FANFARE!!!

And now for the good news.

ACCEPTANCE: Cancer has taught me more about this than anything else which I’ve ever experienced, including motherhood which I thought was a steep learning curve at the time.  The thing is, cancer just does not give a damn, it listens to no excuses.  You have two choices : survive or don’t, and Mr Cancer will lose no sleep whichever option you choose.  So if you decide to go for survival, don’t go running to him. Just learn to adapt. Learn the lessons of patience, tolerance, pain, humiliation, helplessness and mortality.  Then shut the fuck up and get on with it. Maybe you’ll live, maybe you won’t, but the choice of the quality of your life is entirely up to you.  I am still struggling with all this, and will continue to do so.  I am no saint. Ask any nearest and dearest. But I have noticed small improvements in my attitude to the world, and the way I treat other people which I would never have made without being forced to do so.

PEOPLE WHO CARE: I am very fortunate to have family members who love me.  They offered to let me stay with them to avoid the tiring travel, they drove up to visit when I could barely speak or sit up in bed and provided urgently needed distraction by playing bridge with me when my brain was scrambled and I was incapable of counting to 13.  My dear aunt in Melbourne constantly rang enquiring if there was anything she could do, and offering her spare bedroom as my other home!  My husband was something else entirely.  There was nothing he would not do for me (excuse me, blubbing like a baby) and I mean nothing.  Apart from driving me to RBH daily when I became too sick to drive myself, there was no task too menial, too messy or too confronting for him.  Before the cancer, I suppose I thought they cared about me, but I now know just how much. I can never ever hope to repay them.

I suppose you can, to a degree, expect  support from your family, but the real surprise was that which came from friends (I thought I didn’t have any) and people I barely knew.  Cards, flowers, books, embroidery to take my mind off the discomfort, offers of food, transport and even dog walking!  My faith in human nature was vigorously renewed and now I’m busy trying to pay back the universe in my own odd little way.

So that’s how it was and having done the audit, it won’t surprise you to know that the balance of my account is well into the credit side of the ledger.

Funny old world isn’t it?

December 8, 2009

Learner driver

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 1:43 am
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Being on the elderly side of youthful (nice euphemism?), I am having trouble driving this juggernaut.  It’s not the ideas; I have plenty of them, inane and otherwise. It’s the technology.

Consequently I’m looking forward to the arrival of durdlin sometime over the Christmas period as she is very talented in this area and, if I ask her nicely, will help me with formatting, photos etc.  Then I just have to practise every day and this place won’t be such a chaotic mess.

Moral: the older I get, the more help I need.

December 7, 2009

Mother …

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 3:32 am
Tags: , , ,

“Mother, you had me but I never had you,
I needed you, but you didn’t need me,
So I got to tell you,
Goodbye, goodbye”

John Lennon

 

“I don’tknow why I feel so tongue tied

Don’t know why I feel so skinned alive”

Thom Yorke.

How do they know this stuff about how we feel; our 3am demons?

I suppose it’s our common humanity.

And doesn’t help to alleviate the pain when you can simply sing along. 

And then go for a swim in the sea!!

What I’d Like for Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 3:16 am
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  • 1.  David Tennant reciting this to me personally:

 

“Love Poem” by Michael Leunig

“I search and search and find no dorks,

I search the whole world through.

But not a single dork I find

Except for the dork in you.

I can recall when dorks roamed free;

As free as the sky was blue.

But now the dorks are cool and hip

Except for the dork in you.

 

I search and search and find no dorks

And everything’s groovy and new

But not very loving or not very kind

Except for the dork in you”

 

  • 2. Radiohead singing ‘Reckoner’
  • 3. Matthew Macfadyen reciting ‘Ode To a Nightingale’

 

  • 4. Tim Minchin singing ‘Christmas Song.

(note – they all have to be in the my house)

  • 5. World peace , of course. Doesn’t everyone?  Oh.  Maybe not.

December 4, 2009

Yes, I’ve fallen off the blog wagon. Or rather, I’ve climbed back on. Just can’t help myself. And I’m so interesting and important and wonderful that there just isn’t enough room for it all on Twitter and Facebook. So feel free to ignore waffle and self-indulgence, although that doesn’t leave much.

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 7:04 am

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