Liz's colonic journey

I love the slowness of the actual Christmas holidays: Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The days feel long and leisurely and full of potential to me. It struck me yesterday that although we’ve been bond-holders on our house for 8 years, I haven’t really lived in it before. We’ve enjoyed it, especially the garden and the pool, but always been so busy that the only times that I’ve lolled in the pool on hot days, have been at Christmas and maybe those few days after New Year. I remember a particular PaperHeaDs meeting that didn’t happen because everyone suddenly couldn’t make it, so Paulette and I lolled and chatted the afternoon away. Moving slow has it’s benefits. And it’s always at Christmas that I seem to think of weird things to do. Here might be Pat’s take on the day.

“So Pat, how was Christmas?” – “Lovely”, she’d say, without mentioning what I put her through e.g. standing over a fire from 7 am in the morning, making a potjie for the first time, in 32 degree heat. It was hot and humid on the porch yesterday morning. We were up at 5.30, partly because it’s our ritual on birthdays and Christmas to be up early and partly because Rocky and Pepper were looking at me. They stand quietly by the bed willing one of us to wake up – it’s irresistable – no matter how tired or hungover you are, they will wake you. At least they don’t bat one’s face and mieow like cats do, when their owner is being inattentive. Such joys you have to look forward to, Sioux (new kitten)!

We then spent a happy hour opening gifts from our family. I was thoroughly spoiled with amongst others: a new fleece (royal blue) and tracksuit pants (fleecy for those days when the cold hits), an incredibly soft new summer bathrobe, codeword puzzle books, a new pressure cooker (which needs a pilot’s licence to drive it). Pat loves her Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall DVD. It’s been a mission keeping her out of CD shops for the last two weeks! She does love her music.

Which doesn’t really explain why we started the potjie so early. We wanted it to cook slowly – so even though the recipe said it would be done in 2 hours, we went slowly, with my iPad on it’s stand so we could follow religiously until we didn’t (going with Andy’s recommendations). So it was getting a little fire going – enough to make an ongoing series of little coals, which you add and subtract as you need the heat very energy efficient. We added pearl barley, chicken spice and peas to the recipe and used chicken breasts rather than thighs (bit fatty). I think pumpkin would also have worked also in it. It was delicious by the time we ate at 2pm, with all the flavours of the veggies separate (the mushrooms!) yet working so well in combination with the spices. The best was that it was so easy on the tummy because everything was so tender. We had it for supper as well! And there was enough to freeze for a little meal later if the tum is playing up.

This was a number one pot. What we enjoyed about the whole process, was the smell of the fire that wasn’t overly polluting or energy intensive – like a braai, the sound of the pot hubbling and the smells that rushed out every time we opened it to have a look see. We will be doing potjie again!

Pat was the one feeding the fire and loading the pot in the required layers – it was pretty hot out there – while I was Skyping the Willisons in Nelspruit, the Harrisons in Edenvale and my mum in Adelaide. Between us, we still haven’t mastered the conference call yet. We spend a lot of the time asking whether the other person can see/hear each other, and we forget the delay that’s always been a feature of long-distance calls. For all that, being able to see loved ones, animated and busy about their days, is wonderful. Not to mention rude remarks about the windiness in Pinetown that were the likely effect of lentils in the potjie!  iPad to iPad Skyping is an absolute joy. I wish I’d been able to capture Dougal saying “Thank you Mummy” for his biscuit this morning. Such lovely manners in a two year old. He didn’t want to do his Felice Navidad dance for Aunty Liz, but I figure after two days of socialising with his Oz cousins and friends, he’s pretty knackered. Sam and Hamish look so well!

The dogs had a lovely Christmas too. Though from their point of view it was just a nice day with lots of ‘in the moment’ moments. They had their tripe chewies while we were doing Christmas presents. Then Sharon and Dave popped over with two lovely gammon bones (and other goodies) on their way to lunch with family. These disappeared with speed! So nice to sit on the porch, watching Rocky swim, with the fan blowing on us. Sharon and Pat had little G & Ts while Dave and I went with ice cold coke zero, while we chatted about family, christmas, bike-riding and how things are going in general. Lovely, light and loving, so nice to see them. Happily the zings didn’t cause the colddrink to freeze my throat – probably because of the heat of the day. It was great to be in cargo shorts and a t-shirt with flip flops.

Both hounds were involved in the potjie pot clean-up. We were able to get this pic of Rocky – Pepper does everything fast! Hope that doesn’t offend anyone. I promise that the pot has been thoroughly cleaned with vey hot water since!

On Christmas Eve, Friday, was it? I had a new side-effect. You know how your feet burn after hours of shopping or walking a long race? Well this made walking on Friday quite sore. Thanks to the internet, I was able to learn that this is called HFS – hand and foot syndrome, which is apparently caused by the little blood vessels in the feet bursting because of the chemo.  I learnt that I could deal with it  by slathering my feet in E45 aqaueus cream, then covering them in loose socks, then that keeping them elevated would relieve the burn (just as in race-walking – RICE works- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).  Apparently there’s a story of a guy on chemo who’s hands lost their fingerprints because of this side-effect. He got detained in the US and now has to carry a letter explaining this weird side-effect.Talk about an identity-crisis ! 

Because of my foot immobilisation, Pat had to do all the last minute shopping and she did it with incredible speed and efficiency. She found it interesting that it was the food shops that were crazy-crowded, not the mall shops with consumer goods that can only be ‘consumed’ by one. She was looking for all-spice for the potjie – sold out. What spice is allspice anyway? I know it goes in mince-pies. We put nutmeg in the potjie instead – our own twist.

Happily my feet were blissful yesterday and able to be in flip-flops not socks and slippers. I’d have had to walk around nekkid (as Karen puts it) if I’d had to do that, because of the heat. Might have disturbed the neighbours to have me in the buff with only socks and slippers.

The potjie – delightful as the whole experience of cooking and eating it was – was not the end of the things I inflicted on Pat yesterday. I was puttering in the laundry when it struck me that we really needed one of those flip-fold laundry folding gadgets. I saw one on Oprah years ago, and figured that they wouldn’t be available in SA for awhile and forgot about it. Lou mentioned that they are available now in SA, but it being Christmas Day, that didn’t help me at that moment. And moments are to be lived in. So it was that Pat ended up cutting out pieces of cardboard from my Russell Hobbs Pressure Cooker box, for three hours, while we sat on the porch watching the evening draw in. (Instructions on how to make a flip-fold). And then of course, we had to try out our creation which involved going through our closets and folding all the clothes that we weren’t chucking!

This is kind of classic for me, and Pat has gotten used to it over the years, but she was pretty knackered by the time we’d finished watching the cartoon movie about the origin of Iditerod sled dog race last night at 11pm.

We ended Christmas Day with full tummies, happy feet, and tidy closets. Not much more one can ask for in a day, what?

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Comments on: "Happy feet, full tummies and tidy closets" (7)

  1. Joan Conolly said:

    Dear Liz and Pat and Rocky and Pepper, thank you for having such a wonderful lazeeeeee and slowwwwwwwwwwww Christmas … and sharing it with us all. I am in the middle of ‘amichien training’ Dennis Tramp Bafana Bafana Conolly-Dog and Jessi Marilyn Houdini Conolly-Dog. Dennis is puzzled but responding intelligently. He even understands every now and again that I am the Alpha Pack Member! He now sits quietly waiting for me to complete my meal while his stands on the table, but Jessi takes one look at her bowl on the table and goes into Dizzy Bimbo Mode (DBM)! Dennis has learned the ‘Stay Finger’ beautifully, but the minute I move, DBM scampers after me, bouncing around Tigger-like. At which, Dennis looks puzzled and gingerly follows … and I despair and go back to read the relevant chapter – again! One of these days, I am hoping, we will be able to venture out into the society as a threesome, and be cordial to our neighbours. May your day be happy and comfortable – love Joan, Dennis and The Dizzy Bimbo

    • My word DTBB C-D and JMH C-D (aka DBM) sound like fun. Love the Dog Whisperer programme particularly how much the dogs’ humans learn so much about their modes of energy. Calm, assertive energy is a real challenge!

      The programmes about people with chronic illnesses – like the lass with muscular dystrophy who’s dog was trying to look after her – really work for me when you see them switch from being floppy and dependent to feeling competent. Pepper keeps reminding me that I need to be in charge when she jumps her forepaws up to give me attention – trying out her dominance. Logically I’ve noticed that it’s those moments when I’m absent or feeling low, she doesn’t try it with Pat. Talk about instantaneous feedback! Why don’t we have dogs in schools?
      Lots of love back!

  2. So glad for your marvellous Christmas and we had a great one too, with my brother and his family staying in our apartment and having Christmas at our house. What a turn up for the books! William made extraordinary food and I was happy, happy, h-a-p-p-y (Trini Lopez?) Anyone who knows who performed this song is a ballie, so good if you’re not sure.

    Our dogs also got chewy Christmas presents, though for Bella the highlight was a banana all to herself. Bella has been known to make of with bananas when we cut them down from our banana trees, she so adores them. She doesn’t though like us wetting ourselves over the sight of a dog running off with a banana delicately held in her teeth. What’s to laugh at, she says?

    Lots, I say. Including Liz getting Pat to make fold-it thingies on Christmas Day. Go LIz! Go Pat!

    love Philippa and William

    • I’m definitely a ballie, but I’m enjoying that state of being. It’s nice to have a story about how the world came to be what it is and to know history and to have some notion about the social contracts we make to make life bearable. So much less tempestuous than the constant questioning and challenge of young people. I’m really glad there are young people in the world who have the energy and the passion to question arrangements. How we balance those is the challenge. Oy I’m probably being overly analytical!

      I’ve got a lekker picture in my mind of Bella tearing off with a banana almost bigger than herself! Good belly aerobics.

  3. Have been fishing around for the comments box for last 5 mins (still wants my credentials!)

    What wuz I gonna say? Seems everything is bathed in magic! Some practical details:
    Allspice aka “Jamaican Pepper”‘, was used to”help preserve fish and meat”, and the aroma ” combines cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon” – clever to use nutmeg instead!
    Cats “batting your face with their paws” – lucky you! One of my kittens used to stick a single claw in my back! The other sits on my chest (weighs 7 kg!) and licks (ew!) my noz.
    Stay well!

    • Yes isn’t it a pain. I still lose the comments, especially on the iPad, and I’ve done 39 blog posts and comments. I have to sign in to respond to the comments, which seems silly to me. The iPad wordpress app seems to have a bad memory! Don’t you hate it when you know you’ve checked the “remember me” box and it forgets? Guess it needs tweaking.

      I’m very chuffed with myself that I got the nutmeg part of the ‘allspice’ recipe. I thought about cinnamon but thought that it might be a bit strong given the amount of ginger I’d put in. I didn’t even think of cloves – but now I know. Will try it next time.

      I like cats but I prefer doggie energy, I like to be acknowledged beyond ‘servant and factotum’ mode!

      • Hey – have just found out how to respond to comments – not showing on my iPad, but shows on the Explorer version of WordPress. (“Remember me” box? Whut box?) Cat and doggie energy: Mercury people (Virgo, Gemini, first decan of Libra) tend to prefer dogs. The Leo people tenbd to prefer cats. The ‘servant and factotum’ mode: oh-keh. It’s just that cats are socialised differently: they have to LIKE you before they do what you say (if they are feeling “iffy”, nah-uh!) They also tend to listen when they can “read” that you really have their best interests at heart when giving an instruction (e.g. don’t play with that nice green snake; you don’t like that, so stop begging; milk makes you vomit, etc.) Of course, that doesn’t apply to going to the vet, which always involves scratching and screaming the whole way there and back (unless sedated). Tess is an Abyssinian, and more demonstrative and “doggy” than most cats; Tom is a feral Tabbie, more reserved (still bites me occasionally), but he’s there in the yard watching me leave – and come back – every time I use my car (he’s even taught Tess to sit still and NOT dash out under my wheels as I leave). Cats really do love you: they just don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves.

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