All things considered, the past week has been really quite pleasant! For anyone who hasn't already seen on the Forum, I have pneumonia again - well, maybe it's again, maybe it's just the same one which never actually went away the first time, who knows? Either way, I ended up in a bit of a state and as the doctor has signed me off work for six weeks left me unable to start my new job at the supermarket on Monday. Inconvenient? Just slightly. Embarrassing? Definitely. But I was much too ill to be able to do anything about it. One of the main problems is I'm allergic to penicillin and anything close to it so even after four courses of antibiotics there is still no sign of it disappearing at all! Am not sure what this week will bring, the doctor isn't quite sure what on earth she can do next so it will probably mean going back to hospital, boo!
The funny thing is, I'm really quite happy! I might only be able to be up and about for an hour or two at a time and sound like an 80 year old with a two-pack a day smoking habit but I actually don't feel too bad. I'm feel pretty focused and motivated and with three job offers in the last week alone am not panicking too much about the future at this stage. So far I've been offered bar work in two places and just this morning was offered a job in the local bakery. The clubs which have offered me bar work are both aware of my health issues and are happy to wait for me to get better and work as I am able and I think by Tuesday I will have made a decision. Lucky me to have a choice to make! As for the supermarket, Matthew the owner is on holiday but according to the doctor it will still be a while before I am able to do an eight or ten hour shift on my feet. After this relapse I've realised I have no choice but to listen to the doctors and everyone else who tells me I have to look after myself and not rush things! So I'm trying to do as I'm told and it is very reassuring to know that one way or the other I will have work when I am able.
In the meantime, I can't stop thinking about food and cooking! Mind you it's not surprising really; what with all the magazines my mum has been bringing me, the endless hours of My Kitchen Rules (the one programme I swore I would never watch and have got hopelessly hooked on) and especially the lovely Claire M for starting this Forum thread for me, I am being constantly inspired to try new things. All we need now is the food to make them! But I've decided to try and make one night a week a really special dinner night - a bit like our own version of 'Come Dine With Me' if you like (my other favourite tacky food programme!) I've realised that all work and no play really does make Penny a dull girl and Liam and Ali grumpy boys! Everyone deserves a treat sometimes to give them a lift, even if it's something as simple as a meal and cooking gives me so much joy. And of course it doesn't have to be expensive if you're smart about it; it's all in the planning. This week in the supermarket I spotted marinated roast beef at a really low price (here's hoping it hasn't expired, I should have checked the date before I bunged it in the fridge on Friday!) so am going to cook that tonight along with something fabulous in the way of vegetables and Delia Smith's lemon meringue pie as requested by Ali, using some of our monumentally massive lemons from the garden.
I was delighted last night to see someone in our town has started a 'Whangamata Produce Plus' page on Facebook, where everyone can post their excess produce and can take advantage of a wide variety of free fruit and vegies and so on. Blooming marvellous, why don't we all think of doing this? Facebook might be a huge time waster in a lot of ways but it's an absolutely life saver in others. I woke up on Friday morning to a grey and rainy day and thought 'I should really do something productive today!' So I ferreted around under the stairs and under the bed and posted a load of unwanted stuff on our Facebook Buy, Sell and Swap page. I listed everything for $5, $10 or $20 and by the end of the day I had made $490 and sold some more yesterday too! I was over the moon! I hadn't even thought about it being close to Christmas but a lot of people were snapping up items to give as Christmas presents and were delighted to fill up their gift shopping list so quickly. I felt so happy to have really done something productive to help our situation and in such a short space of time. Mind you it's just as well really because the same day we had to take Liam's beloved 10-year-old dog Hubble to the vet. We had known for some time that his teeth were in need of some serious work but were unable to afford it and over time they got worse and worse until they couldn't be left; they were literally hanging out by the roots and must have been causing terrible pain. The local vets don't do credit but in desperation I rang Stefan at Whangamata Animal Hospital and explained our circumstances and he said of course I could get the procedure done and just pay it off. Hooray! He estimated going by the average dog that it would cost around $300 - but when have we ever done anything by halves? At the end of the day, poor Hubble had 90% of his teeth removed and I was presented with a bill for $600. 'Don't worry about the money OK? It had to be done, just pay when you can', assured Stefan but I don't like to have debts hanging over my head, especially to locals. Liam has two more weeks of school and will then hopefully have a job lined up for summer and we're going to pay it off together. As for Hubble, he doesn't seem at all worried by his gumminess! It might have been a cost we could do without but I'm so grateful to Stefan for allowing us to give Hubble the treatment he so badly needed.
So with the help of the likes of Trade Me, Facebook, the budgeting ladies, all the local businesses who have been so understanding of our situation and either let me pay off my bills ridiculously slowly or offered me work and most of all my amazing, amazing mum (yes I did mean to put amazing twice) I think - I THINK - that it won't be too long before we start to get back on our feet. I'm almost too scared to hope! But Liam's final year at school is almost at an end and that alone will put an end to a good few bills. I'm not sure what the next stage of his life will be, obviously if he chooses to further his education I will still be supporting him in that but no matter what happens, the time is fast approaching when he will be earning his own money and I will no longer be responsible for his petrol, ball tickets, beer, hair wax and all life's other little 18-year-old 'essentials'. Last week was his sports prize giving and I was absolutely horrified to find myself tearing up at the sight of him singing the school song with his peers for the last time and again when he was called up to the stage as Senior Athletics Champion. Oh good grief, I never imagined myself to be one of THOSE emotional school mothers! But as I discovered last night, it doesn't matter whether you're the parent of a girl or a boy, when you see your child all grown up it's enough to put a lump in any parent's throat. I managed to grab this quick photo of Liam and his best mate Hugh last night as they were about to leave for the school ball and couldn't have been prouder at the sight of them as they walked out of the building all smiles. I think they scrub up pretty well!