Yes, it’s been a while

Whimsical? Doesn’t really make sense? But then, neither does life. Image: Su Leslie 2022

Well the blogging mojo that started deserting me in the middle of last year hasn’t returned, but I’ve had so many people reaching out with inquiries after my health and general good wishes, I’m feeling slightly ashamed of my long absence from ZimmerBitch.

The course of chemotherapy that I was prescribed post-surgery for ovarian cancer is completed. A CT scan showed the chemo had managed to shrink a residual tumor (and presumably kill off a few of the microscopic cancer cells that remained) The cancer is still present, and will grow and spread — we just don’t know how fast. I’m due to see the oncologist in a couple of weeks, so I may have a better picture after that.

In the meantime, I’m feeling quite well and am trying to just get on with life. Covid — and the emergence of arthritis in my right knee (I now have a matching set) — have put limits on my activities a bit, but I’ve still visited a few art exhibitions, taken a solo trip to Wellington, and enjoyed a couple of long weekends away with the Big T. My garden remains a source of incredible joy (not to mention quite a lot of food), and I’m having fun figuring out new ways to cook our harvest.

Latest discovery; kohlrabi works really well roasted alongside squash and carrots then turned into a soup. No photos I’m afraid; I was too busy enjoying it.

This is about the most creative I’ve been photographically — portraits of my garden produce.

Portraits of the harvest. Images: Su Leslie 2022

Thank you everyone who has got in touch; I really do appreciate your kind thoughts and concern.

The Changing Seasons, October 2021

Dove of peace; guns of war. Seen at the old military site of Maungauika / North Head, Devonport, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

I’m a bit late with this post. Actually I’ve been tardy with anything that involves writing, or even sitting at my desk. The weather has been kind to gardeners for the last week or so, and I’ve taken full advantage to sow seeds, plant out seedlings and generally try to wrest some control back over the wilderness our property has reverted to in the last few months.

As of this morning I’m half way through my chemo sessions. So far, the side effects have been minor and manageable, and I’m feeling generally well. There is a part of my brain that’s whispering “no pain, no gain”, but I’m trying not to listen.

After 12 weeks in various states of lock-down, Aucklanders are to have some fewer restrictions from tomorrow. Since this mainly involves being able to go into shops (though not cafes), I’m not seeing this as particularly life-changing.

We’ve being promised more when the Auckland region hits a double Covid vaccination rate of 90% — something which probably won’t happen this month. December maybe, but with a small, vocal anti-vax / anti-lockdown / Covid-denying minority increasingly targeting the vulnerable with their misinformation — who knows?

Against the backdrop of growing division and hatred, I continue to be sustained by the incredible kindness of people. From the compassion and good humour of my cancer nurses, to friends and neighbours who regularly keep in touch and drop by a for socially-distanced cuppa (one of our newish freedoms). In the last month, I’ve also been given a number of lovely, thoughtful gifts — including three from blogging friends, which are not only truly beautiful, but handmade. How can the world be so fractured and terrible when there are so many good people in it?

Ju-Lyn, (Touring My Backyard) who now co-hosts The Changing Seasons, sent me this gorgeous bookmark made by her elder daughter. Image: Su Leslie

My dear friend Sarah (Art Expedition) made these wonderful earrings for me. On a Skype call to my mother, they are the first thing she commented on! Image: Su Leslie

I’ve long admired the beautiful mosaics made by Tracy at Reflections of any Untidy Mind. Now I have one of my own. Image: Su Leslie

As for the rest of my month in photos — the usual mix of landscapes, flowers and things that just capture my attention.

Sunset, Devonport Wharf, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Sunset, Devonport Wharf, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Wharf, Conwallis, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Exposed. I think a lot of us are feeling this right now. The tide’s gone out on normal life and all the ugly bits are showing. Image: Su Leslie

Cherry blossom season brought these women to the Botanic Gardens for a photo shoot. I particularly love the dress on the right. Image: Su Leslie

Cherry blossom season photo shoot, Botanic Gardens, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Seen near the summit of Ōwairaka / Mt Albert, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Sign of the times. Vending machine, Devonport Wharf. Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Tui feasting on harakeke (flax), Hobsonville Point, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Tui in harakeke (flax), Hobsonville Point, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Tui in harakeke (flax), Hobsonville Point, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Tui feasting on harakeke (flax), Hobsonville Point, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

The Changing Seasons is hosted by Ju-Lyn at Touring my Backyard, and Brian and Bushboy’s World

The Changing Seasons, September 2012

Auckland’s CBD from Westhaven boardwalk. Late afternoon walk while waiting for a takeaway from our favourite restaurant. Image: Su Leslie

I’m not feeling wordy this month, so I’ll keep it short.

I had my first chemo session earlier in the week and am feeling reasonably well. Five more, at three weekly intervals are to follow; then I guess it’s all down to what the scans and blood tests say.

Auckland’s “pink path” cycle and walkway. Covid-quiet on a Sunday afternoon. Image: Su Leslie

Auckland is still in Covid lock-down. It’s been 45 days now, and although restrictions have eased a little (hooray for expanded bubbles, takeaways and click-and-collect DIY materials), it’s hard not to feel totally stir-crazy.

Takeaway coffee — because we can. Image: Su Leslie

I turned 60 last week, and instead of a party and an extended trip around the South Island, I found myself deliriously happy to be able to see my son and share a meal with him — albeit a takeaway and a homemade cake.

Orange cake with dark chocolate ganache, passionfruit and orange buttercream filling, and freeze-dried mandarin shards. A birthday cake that gave much pleasure in the planning, making — and eating. Image: Su Leslie

My garden is a source of both frustration and pleasure. New growth is abundant, but I’ve neither the energy or the materials to do much of the work that’s required. So I content myself watching the native birds enjoying themselves (always when I’m camera-less), and taking the odd flower photo.

While the city is quiet, the Big T and I have enjoyed walking parts of the CBD we don’t often visit.

Early evening in the city. The Sky Tower from St Kevin’s Arcade, Karangahape Road. Image: Su Leslie

Early evening in the city. Image: Su Leslie

Westhaven Marina, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

Sometimes I despair of humanity. I’d just seen the owner of these rods put several fish in their car. Image: Su Leslie

The Changing Seasons, August 2021

Timely. This beautiful and very welcome card from my friend Sarah arrived the day of my surgery. Image: Su Leslie

Where to begin!

When I left you last month I was preparing for surgery for suspected ovarian cancer.

I join you this month a few body parts short of a game of Operation, a pleasing number of kilograms lighter, and with a long, but largely healed scar running the length of my abdomen.

The surgeons are confident they removed the visible tumours, but as the cancer had spread beyond my ovaries, I’ve been referred to an oncologist to discuss chemotherapy.

That should be enough for me to process and deal with.

But.

Four days after I got home from hospital, New Zealand went into a nation-wide Level 4 Covid-lockdown. The initial cases were pretty close to home, and for the first time since the pandemic began, I felt afraid. The possibility of illness — particularly a coughing illness — was terrifying while I was held together with staples and medical tape.

We’re now on Day 19, and my initial fears of becoming sick have been largely replaced by a weariness brought on by all the extra hassles of daily life (particularly one involving frequent medical appointments).

I’m incredibly fortunate to be locked down in a comfortable home, with plenty to eat and the wonderful Big T looking after me. I just wish I could DO more.

I’m not quite healed enough to work in the garden or finish restoring the armchair I had begun, and, as you’ll see, I’ve had a fairly limited choice of subjects for photography this month too.

Flowers began arriving not long after my return home. Image: Su Leslie

Double exposure. Image: Su Leslie

Still beautiful in decay. Image: Su Leslie

Throw in a little editing. Image: Su Leslie

Care package from my sister in law — kindness, goodness and supporting local business. Image: Su Leslie

Not missing these. Bye bye daily injections of anti-coagulant. Image: Su Leslie

The Changing Seasons — this month hosted by Ju-Lyn at Touring my Backyard

The Changing Seasons, June-July 2021

Wahine Toa (warrior woman). A note to self for the shitty days ahead.

I have ovarian cancer.

The provisional diagnosis, given a month ago, has been confirmed by an MRI. I am scheduled for a radical hysterectomy next Monday.

What happens after that will depend on pathology results.

The upside of all this is that T and I have finally sorted out Enduring Powers of Attorney and updated our Wills.

The downside is that we feel we have to.

On a positive note, the pulmonary embolism I was diagnosed with seems to have either cleared, or was never there at all. I no longer have to inject myself daily with blood-thinners, and don’t have to constantly wear the ugly compression stockings (at least until after surgery).

Bye-bye injections — for now. Image: Su Leslie 2021

On a less positive note; I’m still peeing through a catheter.

But I am starting to see the funny side of that — just not enough to write about it.

Something of an expert in the varying properties of medical tapes. Image: Su Leslie 2021

So does that sum up my life at the moment? Well, yes, ….

Except.

My father in law died a few weeks ago.

I’m grateful I was well enough to speak at his funeral and pay tribute to a man I really loved.

My son graduated from university last week.

And though we didn’t stay for the whole ceremony, I’m so grateful I could go, and see all his hard work of the last few years acknowledged.

The boy-child’s graduation. Image: Leslie family archive.

The Big T and I celebrated 35 years together at the weekend.

Every moment of every day I am grateful for his love and support and his fundamental goodness.

Even though he does make me laugh until I snort — and that is so unattractive.

So life is a bit weird right now, and will probably get weirder. But I’m fortunate to be experiencing this particular brand of weird in a country that still has a functioning public health system, staffed by people who seem efficient and are certainly kind.

Best of all I feel supported by friends and whanau; can’t ask for much more than that really.

Muriwai Beach; something to look forward to when I’ve recovered from surgery. Image: Su Leslie 2021

The Changing Seasons — this month hosted by Brian at Bushboy’s World