Thursday, December 15, 2011


Before we had children we used to eat, literally every week, at a restaurant called the Bengal Tiger, which kicked off my obsession with Indian food.   Once we had children we cut back on the endless restaurant dining and so I had no choice but to cook Indian at home, which I have done, almost every week, ever since.

There is something very life affirming about Indian food.  The orange chilli powder, the musky clove and cinamon smells, the saffron yellow turmeric, the grinding of spices, the slow slow braising of chicken, the snowy fluffy rice, all those pulses and grains, the little dishes filled with yoghurty condiments and spicy salads.   And of course there is no such thing as 'Indian' food just as there is no such thing as 'Chinese' food.  So you can endlessly discover new dishes.

(some of my Indian cookbooks)

Which is why all I really want for Christmas is this book by Christine Manfield:

And then one day, off to Agra I will go, to do something like this:

(courtesy Brandon Van Slyke *)

On Saturday it will be a year exactly since my cancer diagnosis.  On that day I will be heading off to my hairdresser to address my unsatisfactory way too short mousey brown boofy hair.  As much as my hair is driving me berko, as I keep saying to myself, at least I am not dead.   My Oncologist Who Doesn't Believe in Remission** (and who also told me that cancer is just the wrong form of energy, which is why I love him) doesn't want me to dwell on this awful anniversary, and I think that makes sense. 

Last year, unusually, I had bought all my presents and even set the table for our twenty person Christmas lunch a good 10 days before Christmas, unheard of for me. And then the next day I had the diagnosis. It was as if on a subconscious level my body knew what was about to happen.  If nothing else, this year has completely convinced of the powerful mind-body connection. Not that you can cure yourself by positive thinking, no not at all.  Those who read this blog will know I do not believe in that at all.  Rather that there are so many things our bodies know, we just have to listen. 

This is our Star Wars Advent Calendar.  I know.   Unbelievable isn't it.  Who would have thought that Star Wars was so Christian.   But my goodness the children love it.

So to the point, which is that last night we went on our once every 9 years trip to the opera.  It was La Traviata, by Verdi.  You know, the One with the courtesan (ie prostitute) Violetta who sacrifices her love for her penniless young man Alfredo only to be reunited with him and then dramatically drop dead from consumption.  That one.  

And I sat there and thought, really, so much of last year has just been about surviving.  Getting out of bed and making it from one day to the next.   Dreading the little twinges.  Over Googling recurrent secondary breast cancer.  Lying in bed at night, sleepless, convincing myself that I am fine, and just a very lucky person.  Wondering if I will even be alive to see my already slightly moody daughter become a teenager.  Hoping I will be around to teach my son the correct way to treat women and to make sure he doesn't break his neck playing football.  

Next year, I hope, will be more about living. 

So it needs to be more about swimming and sunshine:

(Byron Bay - courtesy Adrian McGruther*)

and pointless beautiful things:

And whilst we are enjoying Christmas I want you to think, as I have been, quite a lot, probably too much, about the three amazing ladies, Lisa, Ellie and Sophie, who are listed under the C-word at the right (see Alright Tit, Written Off and Sophie Feels Better), who, all three, have this year had devastating news in varying degress of terribleness.  Every day they amaze me with their guts and spirit.  And every day I curse (just a little bit) the horrible random nature of life.

* these images were in a Christmas Ecard sent to me by this law firm.  Taken by their lawyers on various travel trips. And who said lawyers were boring. 

** this is kind of a long story so I might leave it for another post.  Suffice it to say he is more about curable\incurable than statistics.  And I might note I have never shown any cancer spread, so there is nothing really to be in remission from.

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