October 19th, 2017

Bye Bye Coco&Me.

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For quite some time it’s been on the cards.

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I need to round off Coco&Me and move on to pastures anew. 

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I hope you understand. 

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I always thought Coco&Me was gonna be going on forever but I’ve come to the decision that Coco&Me should remain essentially about my “baking/ market stall” era. It can not house the person that I am after the events in the past year and a half. It just doesn’t sit well.

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There is a poem by Jane Hirshfield that resonated with me. So I would like to share that with you: 

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Like Two Negative Numbers Multiplied by Rain

BY JANE HIRSHFIELD

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Lie down, you are horizontal. 

Stand up, you are not.

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I wanted my fate to be human.

Like a perfume 

that does not choose the direction it travels,

that cannot be straight or crooked, kept out or kept.

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Yes, No, Or

—a day, a life, slips through them,

taking off the third skin, 

taking off the fourth.

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And the logic of shoes becomes at last simple,

an animal question, scuffing.

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Old shoes, old roads—

the questions keep being new ones.

Like two negative numbers multiplied by rain 

into oranges and olives.

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Source: Poetry (September 2012)

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The beauty of poetry is that you can reflect your thinking to it and decipher it with own interpretation. And so I would like to use this poem as the means to describe my current thinking: 

– Is it a Yes, a No, or a Or. I’ve been toying with the idea for ages. And my decision was this. I don’t want to be housed within Coco&Me any longer, instead I want to be like a perfume which flows with free will. Because staying in the ‘old’ and ‘horizontal’ can no longer sustain and still be appropriate. And all I can think about is how to shed skin and move on to find new pasture. What I want is fruition (= happiness, contentment and re-finding myself) despite the tough time I had in the past year and a half. Because I came out of it as a slightly different but definitely a stronger person. – Just “like two negative numbers multiplied by rain (turns) into oranges and olives”. 

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Dear Coco&Me readers and supporters, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you read my blog for so many years. The comments that you have left on here are my treasure and I will cherish it forever. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

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So what is next?

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Well, I am totally excited to tell you that I have created a new blog to document my next chapter in life. 

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It is called ‘The basics of happy living’ and you can find it at www.basicsofhappyliving.com

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I very much hope to see you over there! 

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OVER AND OUT! 

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With love, 

Tamami Haga

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Thursday 19th October, 2017

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October 2nd, 2017

New beginning of something.

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“New beginning of something.”

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Haha, what a vague title that is, but this exact wording is how I feel right now.

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Because just today, I’ve F.I.N.A.L.L.Y finished with my cancer treatment. Yes ALL of it!!!

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I’ve been feeling emotional since I woke up today. As the last injection was done, the chemo nurses asked me what my plan was, to which I joked: “Get the hell out of here, & never come back again!” & we all laughed most delightfully & high-fived. Then I balled my eyes out as the nurses gave me bear hugs. 

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The bus home passed beautiful autumn trees near the London Zoo. The leaves of various hues were falling freely, enriching the ground. The autumn sun through the window was still warm to the skin, & it felt as though it was zinging away the trauma, & instead storing up as much goodness in to my body. 

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New beginning? Yes. We have officially turned over a new leaf to the next chapter!! – Of what? To what? That, I’m not sure. But no rush. I’ll get there. 

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June 27th, 2017

Japan holiday kitchenware purchases part 2

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This is a ‘Chakouro’ (茶香炉). It is a Japanese green tea burner.

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It works on the same principle as the essential oil burner that is used for aromatherapy – there is a vessel that is gently warmed up by the candle underneath. We place the tea leaves in the vessel and slowly roast it by the candle heat. The smokeless aroma enhances the atmosphere in the room delicately, transporting your thoughts to a serene zen tea room.

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This particular one is a Tokoname-ware, it’s made in Japan’s one of six ancient kilns. Which makes it sound romantically old, but actually, despite it’s traditional sounding name and it’s appearance, the ‘chakouro’ is a recent invention and its history is relatively new.  It was thought up in 1997, by a man who got the hint from, you guessed right, the aromatherapy oil burners! :)

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I wish I can send you the aroma over the computer! The nutty roasted tea scent is so subtle, and doesn’t dominate the room like incense sticks do. It really relaxes the mind.

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My Chakouro has a little pan with a handle to put the tea candle in. It’s like putting it in a miniature oven like a doll’s play, :) and I just love it!

And I sit here looking into the flame as I write and just watching the candle. There is something inherently primal about it, no? I can just watch it for hours. It’s a healing and meditative vision. It’s making me warm and content. :)

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It’s a good thing… :) :) :)

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May 18th, 2017

Japan holiday kitchenware purchases part 1

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Hi! We went to Japan on holiday for three weeks during Easter! :) It seems so long ago already… but as you’d probably expect from me, things work a little slow around here (!). So over the next few blog posts, I will like to share some stories with you~!

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. . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . x . .

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Fact: Being on holiday makes my purse strings loose. Because;
a) many things look unusual and the ‘what if I never-EVER get the chance to buy it?’ factor comes in to play.
b) the little devil that sits on the shoulder whispers… “Oh go-on…!” and “It’ll make a nice memento!” in to my ear.
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Fact: The prices are in a different currency than what I’m used to, and I can’t be asked to convert every single price in the head. Not to mention that I’m weak at maths anyway. And the rose-tinted desire of it makes it seem cheaper.
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Fact: I’m a sucker when it comes to kitchenware…, it’s borderline shopaholic. “Hi, my name is Tamami and I am a kitchenware shopaholic.” would be my admission speech at one of those self-help get togethers.
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BUT: this time my shopping spree was toned down somewhat…! (o-m-g…)
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Y’know why?
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It’s because I am on a mission to not buy plastic anymore. And guess what this does ~ suddenly, three quarters of kitchen goods in the shops become redundant! Yah, I’m amazed myself.
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It was actually a really liberating moment. I looked around with my plastic-free eyes and by golly, a realisation dawned on me that I was drowning in too much plasticky option before! Honestly, so much crappy stuff out there. It was refreshing to not have to check them out anymore. So with this new concept, some of the shelves didn’t even get a look at and shopping became a breeze as I was able to pinpoint my attention on only certain items.
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I should tell you the other reason why I didn’t buy so much:
To my dismay, I found another solution to purging my spending spree when I took my 9 year old daughter with me to go shopping in the kitchenware district called Kappabashi.
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“Do you REALLY need that mummy?”
“What are you going to use it for?”
“It’s not very nice.”
“That’s too expensive.”
“Can we leave the shop now?”
“It’s boring. I’m tired.”
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These were the words that my daughter uttered while I tried to shop. And my answers to her remarks were;
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“No, not really…” (externally forced to reality check)
“Not sure… But… s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g…?”
“…” (the seed of doubt now developing in to a plant, looking down at the item I am dearly cupping in my hand.)
“Yes I know. I know, but…!!!!” (the devil on my shoulder is waning.)
“…” (now I feel silly like a child in a candy shop.)
“okay okay…, let’s get out.” (defeated.)
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She’s right of course, I don’t REALLY need a soup ladle for left-handers, nor an iron stamp to sizzle a pattern on the pancake! She is probably the angel (with a whip mind you!) on the other side of the shoulder that tames the devil that whispers sweet things in to my ear. Lol. That day at Kappabashi I didn’t buy a single thing (shock! horror!), but… dear daughter, I’m so sorry, old habits die hard, as I did sneak a shopping spree on my own on another day at ‘Loft’ and ’Nico And’.
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So, ahem, here are the winnings (pic at top)…
  • Hand carved wooden ladle (perfect for ladling the hot pot?)
  • Sesame seed roasting pan (I used the frying pan for the job before, but no more!)
  • Two wooden rice paddle (no more plastic ones for me~!)
  • Handmade bamboo colander (Lol, yes, I agree, I didn’t ’need’ this, but it looked so cool! It’s made from just one piece of bamboo. The handle is extended and divided and plaited to make the sieve part. Gotta give it for the skills involved.)
  • Wired mesh picky-uppy ladle (It’s hand-wired!)
  • Handmade bamboo brush (I love brushes. Ha, weird statement perhaps? When the tips wear down, you can remove one level of wire and cut the ends to use it for longer. Ingenious!)
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Next instalment coming soon~! xxxxxx

 

April 23rd, 2017

Howdy.

 

Yes-yes, can you believe it, I’ve finally managed to post an entry on the blog! Ha, this blog is so sporadically updated isn’t it, I just hope the dearest readers don’t give up on me!

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So, some of you (if any!) might be wondering how I’m doing with my breast cancer. The last time I wrote about it was back in January before the radiotherapy. Well, I did the radiotherapy everyday (with a rest at weekends) for four weeks. It sounds pretty full-on, but actually, each treatment was only a mere thirty seconds long (… and it wasn’t a zapping beam like in the Bond movies!). The reason for such short treatment being, the full dose of radiation is given in fractions. Radiotherapy is about damaging the DNA of the cancer cells to cause it to die, but inevitably the surrounding healthy tissue is exposed and gets a whacking too, so it’s best to spread out the killer bursts, allowing for your healthy cells to recover.

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The actual beaming may be short, but of course it takes ten or so minutes for the radiographer to position me accurately on the table. Ah, talking of accuracy, to do so, they tattooed two pinprick size dots on my chest! MY FIRST TAT Y’ALL! Lol, I’ve always fancied a tattoo, but who knew I’d be getting one in such an un-rock n’ roll situation! Oh well, despite the un-hipness, nevertheless I was excited and jolly as they did it, I mean c’mon, it was the highlight of my hospital visits, ANYTHING is better after experiencing the ghastly chemotherapy and the cold-cap.

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The chemotherapy…, the chemotherapy. Where do I start on how to tell you about this one.

 

Y’know, at the time, I was acting all brave and strong and as normal as I can be, because that’s the defence mechanism in me. And there’s everyone around me commenting “You’re managing so well!” and “You’re looking great!”. But looking back? I can tell you that it really was the shittiest time of my life (oops sorry, excuse the language!). Crappiest. Really. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemies! (well, I don’t have an enemy but just saying!)

 

Of course I could have made my life much easier by opting out of cold-capping, because that probably equated for half of the problem. Cold cap is basically a headgear that you put on pre, during and after your chemotherapy, which freezes your scalp in the hope of keeping your hair. Logic being that the poisonous drug won’t reach the hair follicles if it’s frozen. Like I say, that’s the logic anyway (because I still lost a lot of hair).

 

Traumatic? Yes. Painful? Oh yes, terribly. Endurable? Barely yes, but only because I have children who I was adamant not to upset any further. If it were not for trying to look ‘Normal’ for them, I would have torn off the mf-ing cap off my head in a speed never before seen by mankind. But with the cold-capping, I managed to keep ‘some’ hair, mostly on the sides, so when I put a hat on and have hair showing on the sides, people never suspected!

 

But for the children, it’s bad enough that their mum has cancer, right? Suddenly their steady, happy and ordinary everyday life gets hit by this bombshell of a news! Obviously we involved them wherever we can, filled them in on what’s happening because “not knowing” brings unnecessary fear. Without sounding scary, we told them, “it’s just taking the lump out and making sure it never comes back again with some medicine!”, which, in a nutshell, is all it is.

 

Perhaps it comes with the job of being a mother, but I worried. I worried what effect this would have on them. Being mindful for their mental state was a paramount issue for me, even though my own mental state was all over the shop. Actually even more so because I was suffering, that I didn’t want to drag them down too. We lay a stable ground for them as much as we can and of course always tried to be the chirpy mum in front of them but my eyes were often puffed up. And seeing people around us always asking about your mum’s health brings home the seriousness perhaps.

 

I felt that it was important to stamp out any problems before it happens, so quite earlier on in all of this, I sent two group emails asking for help. One was to my son’s friends parents. The other was to all the girl’s parents in my daughter’s class. If you want, you can read one of them through this link, which will open another page from my website.

 

Despite my worries, the children certainly stood up to the challenge:

 

Unbeknown to me, our teenage son put a picture of a woman with bald head plugged into chemo on his Instagram account, with the words: “I’ll delete this picture when she’s done fighting it”. My gosh, you can just imagine how it squeezed my heart when I found out! – The other week though, I noticed that the picture was gone. I asked him what happened and why, to which he replied, “Well, you’re better now aren’t you!”. – I will do anything for this boy.

 

And then our daughter brought out the maternal quality in droves with this experience. If I nodded off while reading a book or something like that, or at times even during play with her, she’d attentively put a blanket over me and then ever so slowly walk out of the room, careful not to make a squeak. I noticed her doing this before proper sleep got hold of me and I was deeply moved and so grateful that she is my daughter.

Although, sometimes she treats me like an injured pony or a kitty! Lol! Her recent ‘thing’ is to stroke my short hair back and forth, like petting an animal. I understand her fascination though, the hair that grew from baldness does feel especially soft and nice like animal fur! – A friend of mine described my daughter as having an ‘old soul’, that she seems to understand the world around her. Well, I do think she has a developed sense of empathy. Do you believe in past lives? I do, and I sometimes feel that we were also mother and child, but in reversal, me the child. That’s what I feel when she envelopes me. – I will do anything for this girl too.

 

My children’s friends and their mums stood up to the challenge too!

 

I was told by my son’s friend’s mum that his group of friends have a gentleman’s agreement that they won’t ask about my health unless my son mentions it. Thirteen year old boys and their pact! Bless ’em. :-)

 

And my daughter’s friends mums! I received so much emotional support. For example, as soon as the email was sent, they organised a get together for me. It was exactly what I needed, not to be a sorry-case at home, but having a laugh in the pub! They brought around food and flowers from time to time too. And we went for numerous coffees and lunches! It sure made a difference knowing that I had them to fall back on.

 

And Mr.D… Shall I tell you? It was on his birthday, 28th June, that I was diagnosed…! Poor guy, what a shocker it must’ve been, and what a horrible present it was! I’m so sorry that it had to be that day. But of course he has been a rock and a shoulder to cry on. I guess he had the short end of the stick than any other because not only did he had to process this news and deal with my bouts of negativity, he had to look after the family but also go to work throughout the time!

 

Now with the benefit of hindsight, I asked them how they felt at the time and my family all say they were not scared. I think we came through this alright! Thank God for that! Life is almost back to normal now, I just need to go back for treatment once every three weeks for the rest of this year, and take oral medicine for the next five years.

 

I sometimes have bouts of fear. Like a heart attack it suddenly comes unannounced. I worry that the cancer might come back again. And that the next time will not be so lucky. And I still grieve the loss of the work I loved doing too and I feel slightly lost. But that thought gets disrupted soon enough with the children that need my attention and I am ever so grateful for that.

 

Ps: some of you might have realised that the website has been updated? Yup! It has! Now, it is mobile-responsive, and with the bonus of a ‘Recipes’ page where you can now access my recipes much easily. I have also recently started Instagram! There you’ll find me posting stuff much more frequently than on the blog, so please check it out~! ;-)

 

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