Friday, April 6, 2018

FEBRUARY/MARCH ROUND UP

I have joined February and March together, as I was convalescing from Surgery for a few weeks in the middle of these months and therefore didn't do much.

So yeah, I had Breast Cancer, it was awful but so quickly resolved I am still reeling. Science is a remarkable thing and early detection meant I was cancer free exactly ONE MONTH later. You can read all about my experience here.

Work was still crazy busy with loads of training and meetings in the lead up to our computer system. All of which I had to abandon upon my diagnosis.

But February started well, meeting Tania for a catch up at The Central and listened to a great set of vinyl DJing from Reggae Got Soul. Loads of soul music from the 60s and 70s.



I spent an afternoon in Hamilton, waiting for my car to be serviced.





I caught up with Belinda and Anna at Rustica for a lovely lunch overlooking the beach.








I headed to Sydney to meet my lovely cousin, Demi, for a day of Art at NSW Art Gallery, you can read about that here.

Jayne and I headed to Hamilton to see my friend's band, Precious Little play.



I also took a run up to Tanilba Bay, so beautiful.




Plus the usual markets and choir, with us singing Powderfinger at 48 Watt Street!





March commenced with The Oscars and it was a great day, despite being overshadowed by cancer.

Cathy and I had dinner out and saw the brilliant Black Panther on the eve of all my medical stuff. We both loved the movie, was kick arse and featured soo many strong women it was incredibly moving.

And thus began my healing.


However, I had many lovely visitors, and a few people break me out of what felt like House Arrest.

Jayne collected me so we could see the ever astonishing Steve Smyth perform at 48 Watt Street. I also had a few lunches and morning teas out.





Of course this down time gave me plenty of time to read and watch.
You can read about February and March Reviews here.

And the usual pics









Tuesday, April 3, 2018

CANCER

For the past 15 or so years, I have been regularly visiting my local Breast clinic for special check ups. Since that first visit, I have had my fair share of close calls, so I have been very vocal about getting checked, checking yourself, and talking about my visits. So much so I live tweeted a regular visit one time, and turned those tweets into a blog which was extremely well received, by women AND men. This is the blog, it goes into my history and features the tweets that explained exactly what goes on during a visit!

The following is an overview of my latest journey with my boobs, yep this time I wasn't so lucky and a teeny lump was deemed suspicious and indeed the little fucker was cancer. The day I got the all clear - YAY I AM CANCER FREE - I wrote a long post on facebook. This is that post, with a few extra bits added.

On Tuesday 20 February I left work early and headed for my regular Breast check-up at the Breast Clinic.

I have been going there for about 15 years, and whilst I have had some close scares I have always dodged the Cancer bullet.

Until this time...

Yep, my brilliant ultrasound lady found a teeny 8mm lump that was deemed suspicious. I had gone through the usual routine, seeing my Doctor first, he does a physical breast check and thought everything ok. I waited in those awful gowns for my mammogram, it went ok. I went straight into the ultrasound, usually you wait a little so that was great. I remember thinking I would have time to go to a cafe before my next appointment, things were moving so fast this time!

The ultrasound was also relatively quick, the lady doing it really knew her stuff and chatted to me throughout telling me what she was finding. This is not the norm, mostly it is done in silence. She told me she found something teeny but suspicious and it was probably nothing and she would need to check on previous scans to see if it matched or was new. I felt my blood pressure rise a little but I felt ok. She came back and said yep, it was new and they would do a biopsy.


My heart sank, and I went back to the waiting room to wait. This is THE WORST, you are in a small room with other women at various stages of the stages, all ages, and you don't know what they are going through and there is always ONE women who has been through it all and wants to talk about it and cancer. And whilst I am more power to that women, it's moments like that you just wish people would shut up.

So I had a fine needle biopsy, no stranger to them, and they could not give me an answer, and had to send it away for testing. This was new territory for me, usually they tell you the answer, so I knew things were bad. The doctor took me back into his office - this has never happened either, so I really really knew things were bad and I just tried to keep it together. But the word cancer - one they usually avoid at all costs - was used liberally. I remember nodding and not saying too much and I think I even smiled. 

I left very quietly and sat in my car in shock. I decided it would be ok and I wouldn't tell anyone and wait for the results. WRONG! My brain went into overdrive, and of course I told family and close friends.

By the end of the week it looked highly likely I had cancer, but they wanted to do another biopsy to be sure. Mind you, my take on it was I have a little lump that happens to have cancer in it and it's getting it's arse kicked to the curb!!! 

I was just trying to compartmentalise it all and not think about it. I am a HUGE overthinker, so this was initially difficult. There were tears, ugly sobby tears, and there was anger. But mostly I was just quiet. Not many people knew and that was how I wanted it, I was hopeful it would be all ok and I could tell people, oh vey, guess what happened to me last week, but I was lucky!

So a week later I had my second biopsy, one where they take a couple of little chunks. It was less painful than the biopsy as they use local anesthetic on the area, although when that wears off it was extremely tender. 

And yep the little fucker came back with Cancer. My doctor rang me on a Friday morning. He was lovely and despite the back and forth I knew the worst scenario was this and was sort of prepared for it. Sort of. I was at work, so took a few deep breaths and rang my Mum. I was ok but grateful I was taking the afternoon off and could go home and have a little cry. But truly it hadn't sunk in.

The next Monday I headed to my specialist, Dr Clarke, who is just gorgeous and amazing, and the best Breast man in the Hunter!!!! He took me through the surgery and possible outcomes etc and it all sunk in. I was a bit of a mess I don't mind saying.

Up until then, I was doing ok, the odd moment of upset and mostly anger (I had a lot of FU Universe cranky pants moments), but mostly calm and upbeat because I knew positivity was the only way!

But that appointment, on my fabulous Oscar day of all days, totally brought me to my knees.

FUCK, I HAD CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!

After I stopped sobbing, I decided to enjoy my Oscar day and deal with it later, cause it sure as hell wasn't going anywhere!!!

I started to tell people, and realised the worst thing about having cancer was telling people I had cancer. Man, that just about killed me.

But you know, people are so very wonderful and nice and kind, and I always rave on about my family and friends and how bloody fabulous they are! That is not without reason!!!!

My goodness, people were fucking amazing!!!

So removing the teeniest of cancers is not as simple as I thought.

The day prior I had physio!!!

Physio!!!??? Cause they were also removing a lymph node that could effect my arm movement. So I went through all sorts of exercises and massages with a lovely therapist and she took all sorts of measurements to ensure things do not swell too badly after the surgery. Whilst the lady was lovely, it was extremely confronting. 


And we talked about bras, oh my god, let's talk about bras!!! I am a larger girl and have loads of gorgeous bras, I don't do beige or god forbid white underwear, but if you need to wear a non-boned bra there ain't much choice. I had a very expensive boneless Berlei bra posted to me from the Cancer council for nothing which was very much appreciated, but it only came in beige...blurgh! I wouldn't be able to wear regular bras for some time.

At the point of writing this I still only have 2 bras, the beige number which is actually pretty supportive and comfy (and opens from the front - and back - which is a godsend at present!), and a white cotton number that is not as supportive but still comfy that I had to wear 24/7 for a week after the surgery. I will need to go and purchase one or two more boneless bras before heading back to work.


I went straight from the physio appointment to a lymph tracking appointment. In the old days they removed all of the lymphs under your arm, and this caused loads of side effects and issues, now they can determine the exact matching node via a simple radioactive test. Stuff like ink is injected into the cancer and it spreads to the node, it is marked - literally with a X by texta!!!! - so my Dr can find it the next day. This is a relatively easy process, but it is super time-consuming. 


It can take up to 2 hours to find the node, mine was found in 15mins. To do this I was placed in a large, claustrophobic like chamber (not 100% enclosed, but close enough) while the 'ink' travels to the node. This is done with said arm raised above your head, which is far more uncomfortable than you can imagine. Although they found it easily, you are in and out of that machine - to complete the procedure - for a good hour. The nurse - like every nurse I encounter - was kind and sweet. It feels trite to complain, but it was exhausting. 

Then you are moved to another room where they take 360 degree pics of the area. Similar kind of machine, but a little more claustrophobic than the last and my arm was starting to be very sore. This was a shorter process, you lay straight, arm raised, in the machine and it moves around you. Very surreal experience. Next you are dressed and waiting for the results to take to surgery the next day.

I went home and napped.

I napped a lot during this whole 'thing'.


So the next day my poor dear Mum takes me to surgery. This is done at Lake Macquarie Private Hospital opposite the Breast Clinic. 

Before surgery I have a small procedure where they inject wire into the cancer to easily locate and remove it!!! This is done like the biopsy, local is given and a needle goes in and it has the wire attached, the needle comes out and the wire remains, they bend the ends flat and tape them to your chest. You really cannot feel anything, but you do feel the tape pulling your skin and that is unpleasant.

So I walk with Mum post procedure fully dressed but with wire sticking out my right breast across the road from the clinic to the hospital.

Fucking Surreal!!!

We wait to be checked in, this happens quickly and Mum leaves me to it, I am taken to a waiting area, with a mix of people in gowns are waiting. I have barely opened my book when I was called to be processed. This involves removing all clothes, and putting a surgery gown on, and answering a LOT of questions. BP is taken, and other minor things. They asked me what side I was being operated on and gave me a texta to mark that arm with an x - presumably if that was wrong and they operate, it is MY fault not theirs! I get to keep the texta as they throw them out after. All of this is making my head spin.

I am told I will NEVER EVER again be able to use my right arm to give blood, have blood tests or have my BP measured due to losing ONE node. WOW!!!! This was a new thing, and it blew my mind. In the middle of all this, we are informed they are ready for me. The whole process took about 30mins, possibly longer. But it's all prep for the surgery.

And so I was wheeled by a cute guy to surgery. I could hear them finishing up on the patient before me, it was surreal. I waited in a little corridor directly outside the operating theatre until the antithesis came to ask me all the same questions, take my BP, and administer drugs etc.

Then I was wheeled into the theatre, moved to the operating table and well, I don't remember a thing after that! I remember it being about 9.10 before being wheeled into theatre and when I woke in recovery it was about 10.30 or so. I lay there for a while with nurses taking my vitals and giving me water as my throat was so very sore - from whatever they shove down your throat!!!


Before I knew it, it was about 12.30pm and I was in my hospital room eating a yummy baked dinner! I was a little uncomfortable but I felt good.

Mum rang the hospital to check in on me and they transferred the call, and she was astonished to get me sounding so well! 


The nurses at the hospital were amazing, kind, and funny. I think they are indeed a very special kind of person! I mostly napped until Mum and Dad came to visit. I think they were very relieved to see me sitting up reading, and looking ok.

Later I realised my cleavage was in tact, so that was a good thing, not that that really matters in the grand scheme of things but you gotta take the good where you find it!



I didn't have a mastectomy as the doctor didn't deem it necessary, but boy, do not think I didn't go over the scenario in my mind....and a million others!

And I never asked how I would look after the surgery, thing is I still look pretty good, a bit like I have a had a minor boob lift, lol, but in a bra, you simply cannot tell!!! Of course, going in I wasn't so sure how I would look and it seemed churlish to be concerned. But I did feel relieved to feel my chest and it felt relatively normal.

Later my sister and bestie visited, the later bringing me contra-cheesecake that went down very well later that evening. After they left I napped until dinner, which was Lamb Shanks and very yummy.

I was in hospital overnight, which wasn't too bad despite being woken every couple of hours for vitals and/or drugs. My Dr woke me early the next morning and checked my wounds, all were looking good and I could go home. So Mum and Dad collected me and took me back to Chez Shay for a few days. They were simply magnificent!!!

I had limited right arm movement, but things got moving fairly quickly. I could pretty much do most things for myself, but just super super slow!

Whilst there I napped, read, watched some tele, and did crosswords. I had loads of phone calls and messages, flowers, and visits from friends. Mum's phone was constantly ringing with relatives and her friends checking on me. I felt very loved.








On the last day there Mum helped me remove the wound covers, this was a little traumatic. I have a lovely 8cm scar to the right of my right breast and similar one under my arm, the later giving me the most grief...very very awkward spot!

But they looked ok, and should heal to transparent over time.

And so I returned to Club Cathy, and settled back in nicely.


My beautiful sisters, niece, and mother have filled my freezer and fridge with homecooked meals and goodies, I don't know how I will ever thank them - and my father, and brother-in-law, and nephew - enough for their kindness and love!




Exactly a month since all this started, I went back to see Doctor Clarke for my results and where to from here!!!

I AM ALL CLEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The fucker is gone, the lymph came back with no issues and the tissue taken around the lump also clear. He took 10 mm out. It was a very low level Grade 1 cancer. So low in fact he was unsure about followup treatment, which is usually radiotherapy. So I have an appt with the specialists at the Mater to decide what to do. At worst I will have five weeks of radiotherapy, which seems not too bad and I'm up for whatever I need to do!!!!!

I cannot begin to tell you all how relieved and happy I am.

So, a whole month turn around, that is fucking remarkable my friends!!! 

Science!!!!!!

I am the poster child for early detection.

I have learnt so much, but the main takeaway is this!!!

FFS, go and get your boobs checked, I have said this before, and I'm gonna keep saying it, and making people feel uncomfortable (although stuff like this should NOT make people feel uncomfortable). It is the most simple process, and if you are unsure, talk to me, I have had it done sooooo many times, I will talk you through the whole process!!!!

Because if they detect it, you can fix it easily!!!

Oh, don't think I don't know how lucky I am, I am soooo very fucking lucky. I am eternally grateful to all those beautiful people at the clinic and the hospital, and especially the lovely lady who found my lump. If she hadn't, well I don't even want to think about it!

Again I cannot thank my family enough, by god they have been knocking it out the park. And also my beautiful friends, you all know who you are, the messages, phone calls, flowers, cards, gifts, and well wishes...oh my goodness, this got me through it I am certain.





And I know I upset a lot of you with this awful news, for that I am so very sorry.

The love I felt surrounding me was no match for what Andrew Denton once called a "C" of a word that there is no answer for.

So I learned I was far tougher and resilient than I thought, that living in the moment is very very important when you are going through a living hell, that people are far kinder than you can even imagine, that science and medicine are key, and that love is everything.

And I love you all.

I still have some healing to do, I was off work until Easter, but have extended it a week, but again that will depend on those lovely war wounds of mine and how they are healing.

My hormones are all over the shop, and my anxiety the worst it has ever been, but yet my depression was no where to be found, until over Easter. I felt a bit low, feeling technically well, but not yet healed enough, so I was stuck at home and feeling very much alone and sad. But I just tried my best to pick myself up and be positive.

So many people ask me what I need, want. Trust me I will ask when I do need something, but in the meantime, I do not need sympathy or sorrow, I am here and a-ok!!!

But I do need company, I've been stuck at home for longer than I thought, and whilst I am ok, my head still goes to a million bad places, so a phone call or a message will keep me sane.

Don't worry I won't bother you with health shite, unless you are interested in that, I just want, need, crave regular chatter about you and what you are doing, and you know stuff!!!

Work has been wonderful, my small team knew what was going on leading up to my time off which commenced a few days before my surgery. They were concerned and supportive, and have been messaging me while I am off. Managers and key people involved in my projects were also told and again supportive and lovely, this is what you need in a work force. I am blessed to have plenty of sick leave to take, so there is no rush in any way to return until I am better.

And I guess the big elephant in the room is, will this happen to me again!? My doctor says no more than it could happen last time, which means, it can or it cannot. The odds haven't really changed. Of course having it once, puts a lot of crazy thoughts in my head, and whilst I wasn't initially upset by those thoughts, as I sit here with more time to ponder - despite trying not to - I do worry. So I will make an appointment or two with my psychologist and talk it through.

As a single girl, I have been worried how potential partners may feel about this, but on a good day I am hopeful the scars will be minimal and all will be ok, on a bad day...well, that's another story all together. Maybe at my age, it's all over, who knows! At the moment I just need to concentrate on healing.

I know this was long, and yet it doesn't even feel like it does justice to the past month or so.

Surreal is definitely the most used word, it all happened so quickly, I had barely got my head around the fact I had cancer and it was gone. Thankfully so, but as time moves on and I feel great but not quite healed - in terms of doing more physical things and heading back to work due to the wound under my arm - I feel more all over the shop. It is a lot to process, sometimes I feel very much alone and vulnerable and it hurts. Other times I am fine, I guess that is all very much normal, all things considered. 

For those that have hung in and read all this, thank you. Ensure you or your beloved females get checked regularly. The technology and science are developing every day giving us more and more insight. I have also bought merchandise and donated to Samuel and Connie Johnson's Love Your Sister charity, please check them out, they do marvelous things with Science and advancements in cancer and their merch is pretty cool. The Stripey socks will be perfect for winter!

http://www.loveyoursister.org/



Saturday, March 31, 2018

MARCH REVIEWS

 
What I’ve Been Watching
 
Here and Now  - family drama with Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter as the hippy/new age parents, a little mysticism. Started off with premise but going downhill fast.
 
Walking Dead – latest series, really dragging and was starting to lose faith in it, started reading the graphic novels and they are so much better. The most recent episode gave me hope, but something has to give.
 
Call the Midwife S7 – a shorter series than usual, with a lot of the main leads left, but it still continues with compelling and quality stories. An old faithful.
 
Victoria S1 – Gave this a second go, and didn’t mind it. More soap operay and light, but that’s ok. Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as lovely, and I really enjoyed the steam engine/progress back stories.
 
Brittannica S1 – the new Game of Thrones, well not really. Set in 43AB when Romans invaded Britain. Some great fight and mystical sequences, at times the plot is difficult to follow, but then I thought that with the original series of GoT. Def sticking around for S2, but at this point, good as it is, it falls short.
 
Billions S2 – this is a great cat and mouse drama. Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) is a hedge fund owner who just manages to walk on a the thin line of good/bad...or does he. Chuck Rhoades is the US Attorney  trying to catch him and this season he gets closer and closer. Great performances from both men and Maggie Siff as the wife of Rhoades AND the psychiatrist/coach of Axelrod.
 
Better Call Saul  S3 – Love this show, characters well known in Breaking Bad – Gus and Mike – are starting to form. Jimmy and his brother are still at odds and the catalyst to his change to Saul starts to take place. Bob Odenkirk shines here, but really the entire cast is great.
 
Better Things S1 – Pamela Adlon is everything in this comedy/drama about Sam, a single Mum of three girls. Sam juggles the house, her girls, her friends, and her acting career while on the look out for a man. Hilarious, real, stunning. Not a lot happens, but everything does. Adlon shines in this, I dare not not to adore her. I do. One of the best shows on tv!
 
Divorce S2 – this season has a better balance of comedy and pathos, and you really do love both leads, Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church). This season, the kids grow a little older and more angsty and difficult, Frances starts to date and Robert gets engaged! The supporting cast also shine, including Amy Sedaris as Robert’s bitch sister. The scene between Frances and her (good friends in real life) was one of the greatest fight scenes I have ever seen!
 
Upstart Crow S1 – Welcome back Ben Elton, a huge return to form after a few decades of non-funny. This is a great period drama – in the vein of Blackadder – about Shakespeare. Shakespeare (played brilliantly by David Mitchell) divides his time writing in the city and back home with his family in the country. You don’t have to be a huge fan of Shakespeare to enjoy this, but if you are – like me – you will absolutely love it. It is my favourite show at the moment and makes me laugh out loud, a rarity!!!!
 
Bargain Hunt – is my other favourite show. Two couples are given 300 pounds and an expert in antiques at an antique fair and are to find three pieces to auction. Couple to make the most money wins. SImple, interesting, loads of great – and not so great – antiques.
 
What I’ve Been Reading
 
Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell – this is Orwell’s first book, a memoir in fact. He tells of his time living on the poverty line in Paris in the late 20s and early 30s. Paris is fascinating, as he works in cafes and restaurants. London is more about who he meets as he travels about trying to get work and make money. It is an interesting look at life without much and I think helped shape his early style of writing.
 
Detours – Tim Rogers – this is a great(ish) memoir by You Am I frontman. Rogers can spin a tale, as you would know if you ever paid attention to his lyrics. Self confessed dilettante, raconteur, and flaneur, I loved so much of this book, which really is the inner being of this renaissance man. It divides each chapter into parts of his life, his family, loves, travelling, sport. Not that much rock’n’roll, and a little too much sport for my liking, the later (middle section) of the book needing some editing. But it is where he lets his heart open and tells his stories raw, I melted. I know he’s a bugger, but I love him so. His stories of his Dad, and his new love, The Hurricane, just made me smile. His stories of the women he likes to chat to when he is out and about also warmed my heart. In a bar full of women, he’ll be drawn to the less showy, more chubby, generally older women – cause you know she’s got stories – rather than the younger, more traditionally beautiful women. His anxiety is crippling, his love of the stage (and alcohol and drugs) the only thing to push it away. He’d happily stay inside his little apartment solo than head out and about. I imagine there are a few more books in Tim, and I cannot wait for more.
 
David Sedaris – I’m finally reading Theft by Finding, diaries Volume 1 and it stars slow, in the 70s with innocuous diary entries, once he leaves home things get a little more interesting and you start to see the Sedaris humour start to evolve. The diaries entries are selective and possibly polished, but mostly as they were. I decided to re-read all his other books as I read this. So I started with Barrel Fever, which is mostly fiction and whilst well written and at times funny, they feel forced and too much going for shock value. His style is yet to evolve, thought you can see bits of it in the few essays at the end of the book. Non-fiction is definitely his thing. Holidays on Ice is really the showcase for what I call the Sedaris gateway drug – The Santaland Diaries – if you love this, and most do, you will love Sedaris. This compilation contains holiday tales, all funny, but none are near the dizzy height of Santaland – the tales of Sedaris as an elf at Macys one Christmas. Naked is where Sedaris starts to form his style, with his childhood stories, equal parts devastating and hilarious. Not that’s a fine line, but he walks it well. Sedaris is one of the few writers that always makes me laugh out loud. I guess he’s not for everyone, but you’ll never know if you do not try. Start with Santaland and then Naked!
 
The Best Australian Essays 2017 – edited by Anna Goldsworthy – a lot of these I had read in The Monthly or The Saturday Paper, but there was a few new ones and ones I wanted to re-read. A lot of focus on the Australian environment thematically.
 
Planet Elephant – Tammie Matson – the follow up book to the spoken word the other month. Now married and with a small child, Tammie and her husband tag team their environmental responsibilities with childhood. Asia and Africa and back to Australia in between. Mostly about Tammie’s work with elephants and villages/people in Asia but so much more.
 
Nevermoor: the trials of Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend – this has just won the ABIA book of the year, first time a children’s book has done so. I have had a copy for ages, so figured I had better see what the fuss was about. It has been a huge deal before winning this and touted as the new Harry Potter. Many before have had this bestowed upon them and most did not deserve it. This – an Australian book – does deserve the title. Whilst a kids book, I think most teens and adults who love fantasy will love this. Follows the trials of Morrigan Crow, a young girl who is unfortunate enough to be born on a day that prophesises she will die on her 12th birthday. But she is rescued just in the nick of time by a strange man, who takes her to a realm never heard of. More fabulous and fantastic than the dismal world she lived in. There she has to go through some trials for her strange benefactor, who seems to be up to something and know something about her, but he doesn’t divulge. A little bit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a little bit Hunger Games, a little bit Harry Potter. This was a page turner, well written, with great characters – good and bad, an ever changing delightful world and a cool female lead!
 
What I’ve Been Listening to
 
Utopia – Bjork – really loved this, but then I always love Bjork!
 
Synthesis – Evanescence – new album but mostly reworked versions of older songs, a lot orchestrated and sounding lush. Excellent album.
 
Women of the Hour S2 – this is Lena Dunham’s podcast and she lines up a remarkable group of women to tell their stories in each hour. Loved!
 
Richard Fidler, Conversations -  I have a USB filled with heaps of Conversations I have been listening to in the car. Famous people, non famous people, they are all fascinating and have a story to tell. Fidler is the brainstrust here, his knowledge of seemingly everything is stunning. Outstanding listening and learning.

Monday, March 12, 2018

FEBRUARY REVIEWS

What I’ve Been Reading

The Walking Dead Graphic Novels – I have been enjoying reading these, very different to the show,  but good all the same
Vanity Fair – the one magazine I buy and therefore, I flip through when I buy them, but then they get stacked unread, so I am catching up. Always quality and interesting articles, from politics to history, to Hollywood and entertainment.
The New Yorker  - the other magazine I really love, but rarely buy because it is so expensive, but i got a really cheap sub deal for 3 months (gateway drug for sure!) and have been loving collecting them from the my letterbox each week. Super quality articles, interesting fiction, and a taste of my beloved New York.

Yeah, not much else, I have been very busy and lost my reading mojo so to speak., despite having a huge stack of interesting books to read.

What I’ve Been Watching

Scandal S4 – I do like this despite its melodramatic nature. The casting is solid, and the stories fun. I still don’t get Olivia Pope’s attraction to the president, to me that has been and always will be the weak link of the show. He is a dope, why?
Riverdale S1 – I really loved this remake of the Archie Comics. Sure its a teen show and it ain’t no Buffy, but it was light and fun, and Luke Perry is Archie’s Dad, so yay!
Nashville S6 -  total soap opera, but the music is great, sucked in and I don’t care, it’s fun.
Call the Midwife S7 – still a delight to watch, great stories and acting.
X-Files S2 (reboot) -  I love this show so much and the S1 reboot didn’t quite live up to expectations, S2 seems to be doing much better.
Britannica S1 – this is meant to be the new Games of Thrones, it isn’t but it IS good all the same. Set in the early Roman times, when they are raging over land.
Mosaic – this is a great murder mystery from Steven Soderburgh, starring Sharon Stones. HIghly recommend
Divorce S2 – a little less black than S1, this Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church comedy really grows on you, it beautifully written, very funny and worth watching
Better Things S1 –  I love this show so very much, takes a few episodes to get into. Focuses on Pamela Adlon as a single Mum of three girls, who is a jobbing actor with her crazy mother living next door. A poignant comedy, Adlon knocks it out the park. I cannot recommend this enough
No Activity S1/2 – this is a great little Australian cop comedy with Patrick Brammall and Darren Gilshenan on a perpetual stake out.
Masterpiece with Alan Titchmarsh – this may well be my favourite show on TV, essentially an antiques game show, with couples trying to pick the most expensive antique or guess prices. Each show has a section filmed in a grand estate home in England. Just swoonworthy homes and antiques really.
Viceroy’s House – quaint costume drama about the English in India, just before independence, with Gillian Anderson and Hugh Bonneville.
Marina Abramovic: the artist is present – I have been busting to see this documentary for ages, as I am a huge fan of the amazing performance artist. This documents her ground breaking show, The Artist is Present, and delves into her history, especially with her fellow performance artist and ex, Uri. If you want a taste of her life or don’t know much, this is a great way to find out about her. If you are a fan, this is everything, it is just wonderful!

What I’ve Been Listening To

Paul Kelly, Life is Fine –  this is really really really fine, quite lovely in fact. Kelly just gets better with age. That voice, those stories...
First Aid Kit, Drunken Trees EP – brilliant of course.
Neil Young, Hitchhikers – Young is pumping them out, def not his best, but still worth listening to
Beck, Colours – more pop than you’d expect, not bad.
U2, Brand New Day – dull as dishwater, oh Bono, what on earth happened!?
Paloma Faith, The Architect – loved this, excellent
Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold – Thrashier than I would prefer, but still good.
Richard Fidler Podcasts - I rarely get to listen to these live, so have loaded up an USB and have been just loving each and every one of them, the famous, the not so famous, these hour interviews are fascinating, upsetting, hilarious, and everything and great company driving to and from work!



ART TRILOGY

I love a visit to an Art Gallery or Museum, it is probably my most favourite way to spend time. In the past few years I have started a little thing where I head to Sydney to the NSW Art Gallery and meet my lovely cousin (and fabulous artist herself) for a morning or day of total art absorption.


About a month ago we planned to meet to see THREE exhibitions on one day. This was a tricky day to pull off, we're both super busy people and two of the exhibitions were finishing up and one starting and the overlap for all three at once was a week. But we did it, with my choosing Valentine's Day (for no real reason, in fact it didn't click until we'd locked it in) for a Galentine's Day of Art!

I love this trip down to Sydney, I catch the early train, sleep most of the way down, waking around Strathfield, before heading into Central, changing trains to St James and then that lovely 10 minute walk past Hyde Park and St Mary's, through the Domain to the Gallery.






First exhibition we went to was The Lady and The Unicorn. I knew a little bit about these old tapestries, but was completely overwhelmed by their size and beauty. Oh my goodness, 6 ginormous French tapestries from the 15th Century is very good condition and just beyond what you could even imagine.





So much to look at within each tapestry, we were there for quite a while, there was a small collection of matching pics and sculptures and an interesting video with the collection, but really the tapestries are all you want. This only just opened, and is totally worth the trip down. My photos couldn't even fit the entire pieces in let alone do them any kind of justice.

After such a sensory overload, morning tea was required!

Next stop, the biggie, Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum. I must admit this is not a huge favourite, I find the pieces dark and gloomy. But yet, I love looking at all art, and so was fascinated by styles and techniques and was quite taken with a few of them. The ones I liked the most, bar the Vermeer which was just enchanting, were unknown painters to me.






This took some time to get through, so a late lunch was next.

Finally, we took in Robert Mapplethorpe's Pictures. I have always loved his photography, but after reading Patti Smith's Just Kids, really got to 'know' the man a bit more which amplifies the art itself. This was a great collection, from his early work to the popular and well known pieces and the last things he took which were quite stunning. Looking at some, you might think what is the big deal until you see the date he took them, he was a groundbreaker in many ways. His work of high importance.









As always we ended up in the shop, doing a little art purchasing.

Then we bid our goodbyes, and I headed back off to the train and home. My heart and soul fed and satisfied, was the perfect mid week break!