Eva

I caught up with a friend today who I met through hairdressing academy last year. Although we only knew each other ever so briefly before she took sick, I knew I had made a life long friend in Eva. She was sitting in her hospital bed when I arrived today, wiping her neck and face with a cool flannel as I sat down on the seat next to her bed. The fever she has had intermittently for weeks now is back and there’s no reason for it.

Right from the outset I knew Eva was a tough chick. Tattoos all over her, punk rock hair, and a take no shit attitude. She’s a bit like me but way fucking cooler with more tattoos! When she first left the academy due to illness the docs said she had Glandular Fever, which by all accounts sounded fair and reasonable when taking into account her symptoms. It was a few months later that they told Eva she had Lymphoma. Yeah that fucking shit sneaks up on you and WHAM you now have cancer thank you very much! I can’t even begin to imagine how crushing that must have been for her then, but more so now, to know something just wasn’t right the whole fucking time, and to be continually told it’s just the Glandular Fever.

Anyways, Eva went through the chemo and then the radiation to kill this motherfucking shit Lymphoma. She endured weeks of the treatments, away from her two-year old son and family. Eva loves her boy like nothing else. He is her whole entire world and today sitting in the bed, all she wanted to be doing was playing with her awesome little son, who desperately misses his Mummy.

I walked into the hospital room today expecting to see her feeling sorry and looking shit, but to my delight she was smiling and although she’s much less stockier than last I saw her, she’s still looking great. Her new short and curly, dark-brown hair looks fucking awesome, far from the rocking pink she had but still HOT. Now whether her smile is a mask for all her pain and sadness I have no clue; perhaps she was high on Endone and was watching a pink dog cock its leg on my black tights the short time I was there? Who knows? Smile or not in my eyes she’s a fucking star, a super star riding a cancer bull for the full eight seconds.

I chat with Eva on messenger, she updates me to what’s going on and I just refuse to allow myself to feel sorry for her. That’s not what she wants. She’s not after pity, or the ‘oh Eva’s’, she just wants to be at home. The radiation has ravaged on her body, with suspected nerve damage and the trial drug in her chemo has potentially damaged her liver, yup, like this little Lymphoma party wasn’t fun enough, now she has to wait for this infection they can’t fucking find to fuck off so they can move her to Peter Mac where a specialist can assess the damage.

The treatment to get rid of this war in her body is way worse than the cancer itself. The effects caused by the drugs and therapy are so aggressive in nature you just have to wonder how she is still sitting in that bed smiling at me? She can’t stand the sheets on her skin, and she’s constantly moving about, restless as a result of the Endone and other pain killers they have her on, but I believe more so because she fucking hates that bed.

She’s been in hossy nearly a month now, waiting for this mysterious infection to present itself somewhere or just fuck right off entirely. She’s without her gall bladder, has had a burnt oesophagus and liver failure which resulted in looking like an Oompa Loompa off Charlie & The Chocolate Factory AND they’re still poking and prodding her like the proverbial pin cushion, taking her blood and obs constantly, feeding her hospital food with meal replacement shakes, aimed at getting her to put on weight. Her recent PET scans, CAT scans and endless other tests are all cancer free, meaning she is sitting in the Oncology Ward without cancer. So ironic isn’t it? All this pain and damage is a direct result of the treatment that has killed the demon within her lymph nodes.

Eva, you’re my little hero. You have a heart like a lion and I believe you will see the other side of this with oodles of health and happiness. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger they say, and I believe that this is what your destined to do, you’ll survive. I won’t feel sorry for you, but I will tell you that you’re stronger than you have any idea of, look just how fucking far you have come already girl. Keep keeping on. Thank you for today, for your honesty and integrity. Huge hugs. X

When you get out of there we’ll have a pot of tea!!

Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!

Nom

Tater Patties

A Facebook conversation between my sisters and a friend tonight got me thinking about how my love of food goes back quite a ways. From Mum’s spag bog to the G-Marts bickies, it all makes me smile. It’s only when those people are no longer in your life that you think, fuck, I really should have paid more attention to them cooking it, or actually learnt to cook it. Having said that, I have been lucky enough to be able to recreate a number of Mum’s meals. After Mum’s death I made it a point to be able to cook a few other famous recipes of the cooks in our family.

The odd dish of the bunch would be Mum’s ‘Tater Patties’, otherwise known as a hash brown. I’m the only one of my sistersIMG_0318 that can cook them just like mum. The oxidised blackened grated potato and egg mix, slapped flat in a shallow pan of fat and then browned to crispy perfection. I only ever cook it when one or both of my sisters demand it. We drown them in white vinegar and scoff our faces off. If I’m really honest its a meal made of nothing and I guess that’s why we ate it, a lot! Spuds were cheap and they filled you up. Meals made from nothing were a necessity.

Times were pretty simple while I was growing up. We would feast on whatever Mum had whacked up that night; bangers and mash, carrots and peas with way too much fucking pepper; rissoles in gravy with guess what, more mash and carrots and peas with too much pepper; this savoury beef stew stuff with you guessed it, mash spuds, carrots and peas with way too much fucking pepper. The odd occasion we would have dessert, golden syrup dumplings with shit loads of cream. I’ve managed to nail those too and have tweaked the recipe to butterscotch and its now a staple in the camp oven when we go up the river.

418603_10151042220443918_1187196439_nThe staple dessert for us though would have been custard.  A big bowl of thick, sweet, smooth, bright yellow custard with a banana face on top. Makes me smile just thinking about how simple that meal was but how much pleasure it brought us, and now too to my boys. They love the custard and banana face, even still now they’re teenagers. I am the ONLY custard cooker on Christmas Day because I never fuck it up. Thin runny custard is not welcome in our homes, ever!

Dad worked away quite a bit, or well it seemed like a lot to me. Nights were often just us girls and we sung the usual chorus, dinner, bath and bed. The towel ritual after the bath, then dragging a brush through our hair followed by putting pj’s on. If Mum was in a good mood we could even sit up and watch the Don Lane Show or Prisoner. Yes, I did say times were simple…  Mum was a cranky bitch most of the time, and I say that with utmost respect. If she was happy you did everything in your power to ensure she stayed that way, hence why I was making cuppas as soon as I could pour the kettle without skinning myself alive. Continuous supply of coffee equalled happy Mum, simples!!

I hate peeling spuds. I really fucking detest it and will cook rice instead of spuds just to avoid fucking peeling them. I wont even peel them to roast them. You ask either of my sisters and they will tell you the exact same thing. The amount of spuds we consumed in our childhood would have fed a small country. Mashed spud was ALWAYS on our dinner plate. It’s funny now though because my children won’t eat it… I wonder if my dislike of them has been bred into them? Perhaps passed through my genes to them.

When it’s Tater Pattie night I’m not the one peeling or grating the 30 spuds required. I’m happy to cook them, but I ain’t peeling and grating the fuckers. The next worst thing to peeling spuds is grating your knuckles off, losing the skin flaps in the grated potato mess. I hate to think how many knuckles we have eaten in our life time… yup I am actually laughing now. The thought makes me cringe!!

Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!

Nom

Wire Racks are for Dinkin’

Growing up in a caravan park for a few years of my life was not ideal, however there were moments of excitement and fucked-upness. The caravan park is in the middle of Clunes, stretched out along the banks of the Creswick Creek, directly across the creek from the footy oval. Friday night through the summer meant basketball at the two courts on the edge of the caravan park. It was a healthy competition, mainly filled with aging retired footballers who played footy on a basketball court more than the basketball they were supposed to be playing. The odd fight and random kerfuffles were the norm between the Grass Hoppers and the Young Farmers. It was really busy, dozens of cars parked along the wire fence ready for the nights action, with adults milling around chatting and laughing. It was the Friday night thing to do through the summer.

Seeing as we lived right next to the basketball courts our ‘place’ was a common haunt before the games started. We owned a huge trampoline and every kid in town could fit on it… well, so we thought. Kids with bikes, and skateboards; others with a friend from another town on a sleep-over or their little dog; girlfriends and boyfriends holding hands and best friends giggling under the old walnut tree on the corner of the courts. It was the place to be on a hot summer night in Clunes. sadly the comp is no longer at the park and is now held in the stadium at the footy oval.

61844_116007241789739_3665244_nMy youngest sister was only little when we lived in the park, perhaps five years old. She was well looked after by the local teenagers, everybody looked out for everybody back then. I remember this one afternoon when a couple of my school friends sisters who were older than me, were riding their bicycles around the park. I’ll call them K & K, as they both had the same name. One of the girls parents owned the local milk bar in the main street where they sold ice-creams in a cone so fucking huge that people would travel miles to get one. A single scoop was two huge scoops, you didn’t ask for a double!

I guess Mum was inside the van and Dad was probably at work or the pub. There were a bunch of kids hanging around taking turns on K & K’s bicycles. Back in the eighties most bikes had a wire rack on the back where you could dink someone sitting on it, and of course my little sister wanted a go. The eighties were an age when nothing had guards on it and you lived without worry. Kids could ride around the town without any stress and fun was just being outside in the air with your mates.

My little sister never wore shoes when she was little. She loved anyone a bit older than herself, people intrigued her then, they still do now and she still wears no shoes! She wanted a go. So up she hopped onto the dinkin’ rack on the back of the bike, huge grin, arms stretched around ‘K’s waist. Off they went. She giggled loudly as they peddled off. Simple things can make you so happy. The park had an oval-shaped road through it with speed humps to stop people speeding through the park, it was a great track for a bicycle. A couple of laps in and they came back onto the grass and my sister let out an unholy scream.

K dropped her bike to the ground, my sister falling to the ground beside it clutching at her little foot. Every kid in the park ran to them. Blood squished between her fingers and she was howling like a banshee. K & K stood over her trying to work out what had happened. Mum pushed through the little crowd and pulled my sisters hands away from her foot exposing a raw, bloodied and chewed up mangled big toe.

The little crowd exclaimed in disgust, a couple of kids may have muttered ‘cool’ under their breath. I was completely grossed out. Mum picked her up and rushed into the van leaving all of us standing there in shock. K who was dinking my sister was crying. It was then that we all thought to check the bike. How did this happen?

After a closer examination it was discovered that somehow she had got her big toe caught in between the greasy bike chainroyalty-free-foot-clipart-illustration-1134392 and the cog that the chain is on; that essentially caused a mincing of ones big toe to occur. A couple of the boys helped to push the mince-toe-meat out of the holes of the chain with a stick. Leaving the greasy, bloodied chunks on the dirt below. Remarks of ‘totally rad and mad’ were thrown around while the meat was jabbed out of the chain.

Poor K wouldn’t ride her bike home, she pushed it to the other K’s shop and left it there. Forever scarred by the event no doubt. I wonder if she remembers that day still?

My sister now has what we all call her ‘snail helmet’ toe. The bike chain had minced off the top of her toe, luckily missing any bone, but as a result of the injury her nail now grows over the top of her toe like a stack hat. It really is the cutest thing! For years she wouldn’t wear any shoes that you could see her toe in, but thankfully in recent years she has began wearing her stack hat toe with pride.

Moral: wear shoes on bicycles!!

Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!

Nom