Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blessings on the helpers

When I was having chemo, part of my healing-through-gratitude regime involved making plans and daydreaming about the massive thank you feast we would throw for all the people who helped us out during that supremely crappy time. I felt that even though things were not that awesome for us during those months of treatment, I still had so much to be grateful for, and I still felt super lucky. Maybe even more lucky than I feel normally. It's true I did have cancer, and I did have one of my boobs removed, and I did go through chemo, which was gross. But I have an incredible, strong, kind, compassionate and loving partner, and 2 beautiful kids. I have an extended family who love me. I had an amazing day-bed out the front of our beautiful little house on which to rest, overlooking a sweet little valley farm which I love. I live in a country with (kind of) free health care, which meant I was able to have the treatment I needed to give myself the best chance of survival. I have access to an abundance of all kinds of nutritious foods to heal body and spirit. 

And I found myself among a community of people who helped out in all kinds of ways. There were people who came and helped Pearl move the chicken houses, and to help load chickens on processing day. There were the people who brought us meals. There were the people who put money into our bank account to pay for herbs and vitamins and medical bills. There were the people who processed our chickens the night I had to unexpectedly go to hospital with neutropenia. There were people who bought us massages. There were people who knitted things for me. There were people who gave me Reiki, and people who gave me acupuncture. There were people who brought us firewood. There were people who lent us their showers and spare bedrooms. Awesome, right?

The party planning started off with me emailing one of my favourite artists, Phoebe Wahl, to see if I could buy one of her images to use for the invite. What I love about Phoebe's art is it's warmth and vigour and heart - all the things I wanted for our party. Because she's lovely, she happily obliged.
Food planning involved the procurement, fattening, killing and processing of a lamb, which our friend David took care of for us, other than the boerwurst sausage-making, which was a team effort.
We bought veggies and salad greens from all our friends with market gardens. I, with the help of 2 very special ladies, made 25 litres of rhubarb and strawberry champagne.

For party favours, I lino-cut a 'thank you' stamp and stamped it onto serviettes I'd made, for people to use at the party then take home and use over and over.
My mum and her partner made a dessert, my nana made her signature custard kisses and a 'thank you' fruitcake, and Pearl's mum made brownies.

Everything was set.

And then it started to rain.

Plan B for Bad weather was to move the party to the incredibly beautiful Quaama Hall. Ain't no way 60 people were fitting in the tiny house.

Saturday morning, the hall was booked, as it seemed like the rain would never let up. And it didn't. In fact, by sunday morning, the day of the party, we, along with food enough for 70 people, got flooded in as the river broke it's bank and covered our main road to town with over 2 metres of fast-flowing water.
The give way sign at the bottom of our road, on the morning of the party
Not really the kind of development you want on the day you've been planning for months.

So we sent out texts and facebook messages telling people the party was off. Ironically, sunday turned into a beautiful sunny day, and we cheered ourselves by cracking jokes about it being a beautiful day for a party. My brother, who was visiting from WA got to spend some quality, flooded-in time with the kids. Some also-flooded-in-neighbours dropped by, and we had roast lamb for dinner.
Nice day for a party. Shame that 'lake' is covering the road to party-town
The next day we made 'Canceled Party Pickle' with all the zucchinis, squash and capsicums we'd bought. We preserved most of the harissa we'd made and froze the marinades.
We breakfasted on harissa and labne and cucumber and lettuce and asparagus and roast beetroot for days. It was actually divine.
Luckily, no food went to waste, between the freezing, the preserving, the eating and giving things away to all and sundry. And Oscar was thrilled to have Thank You fruitcake in his lunchbox today.

So what's the moral of this rather long-winded post? There're probably a few. One moral is that flooding waits for no man, and the river and rain don't give a crap about your plans for thanking people.
Another is that a jar of Canceled Party Pickle and a lovingly hand-made serviette, while not the same as an awesome party, is also quite a nice way to say thank you. And yet another is that all exercises in feeling grateful, whether the plans eventuate or not, are good for the soul. Even though we were sad our party didn't happen, we still feel grateful for all our friends, and the things they do for us. One day, that party's gonna happen, and we'll all be glad.


  1. Oh you are so very gorgeous, i just love you all. Your perspective on life, your overwhelmingly positive nature, your good cheer and delight. kisses galore to be showered upon you all. xxx

  2. Hi Annie,
    I'm Robyn and am a rancher/rancher's wife living in the northwest corner of South Dakota. One of my closest friends is Jona Ohm! She told me about your blog and here I am.

    We have to have rain before there can be a rainbow. Sounds like you handled the cancelled party well; I'm sure you were disappointed. But, like you said when it does happen it will be awesome. And when you don't feel like cooking you have some goodies to fall back on in the freezer. Your Thank You serviettes are cute.

  3. That's a real shame about cancelling your party but you made the most of it. Food looks lovely.I love the idea of the cancelled party pickle! What a fantastic idea. I love Phoebe Wahl's prints, they are so beautiful and I recently purchased one of a mother and daughter in the kitchen. It reminded me of myself and my daughter so I just had to buy it. Take care and from the sounds of it you and your family are surrounded by lots of wonderful people:)