Moon Cycles – the last taboo

God it’s embarrassing isn’t it? The Curse, periods, that time of the month, on the rag, cousin red, on the blob, have the painters in, the crimson wave, on the flowers, and, wait for it, women’s troubles. 

Oh man, that is the one that really sticks: Women’s Troubles?

Why has the monthly cycle that every single female (more or less) experiences from the moment she begins to enter womanhood become our troubles? Why has this natural cycle become so shameful, so accursed, become literally: the curse?

Is this really the message we should continue to teach our daughters, nieces and goddaughters and, even, ourselves? Why should this be the last taboo – the one subject that men cannot bare to mention, or even women – for that matter, without shuddering or feeling embarrassed.

Yet this natural rhythm follows the waning and waxing of the moon. The moon regulates the movement of liquid on earth and its 29.5 day cycle is very similar to the natural cyclical cycle of female menstruation, which runs between 28-30 days, suggesting that women can and do ovulate around the full moon and that their hormone levels are changing during its waxing and waning.

300-womans-moon

How cool is that?

Last week, I was incredibly lucky to be invited to join a women’s circle. It was a wonderful, healing and bonding experience for all concerned. Our cycles were discussed and although a natural embarrassment was felt, we questioned why this area of feminity is so utterly, deliberately cloaked. And why a kind of simple cover-all, men – so often use, when we ladies are stressed, or angry or just plain pissed off – is: “Oh it’s that time of the month is it?” And think they are clever or in touch?

Indeed, several women amongst us revealed that their mothers had never so much as had the courage to explain that this eventuality would happen, they found themselves one day at age 12 or 13 bleeding, and not understanding why, and feeling, naturally, terrified.

But, we cannot blame their mothers, this behaviour was, just a product of the culture of the time. We have progressed since 1970 haven’t we?

Maybe not, apparently in 1997 Johnson & Johnson went looking for a female celebrity to  promote its sanitary towel brand of the time. The company found no celebrity willing to associate themselves with such a product, even the Spice Girls refused; so much for girl power.

But can we gently change this kind of thinking? By informing the up coming fertile and youth-filled girls in our lives, maybe we can alter the path and stop this area of womanhood continuing to be one of shame and anxiety. Perhaps we could celebrate a first period? or is that taking it a step too far, too quickly?

Like the Navajo Indians?

What do you think?

Thai Noodle Soup

Providing your not struck down by Delhi Belly, too often, street food remains the only way to savour local food at its best if you find yourself lucky enough to be in foreign parts.

Sitting on a dusty plastic stool watching a small Thai man ladling steaming stock broth into a deep bowl filled with glass noodles, small slivers of chicken and topping it off with green citrusy herbs and hot fresh chilli, is my most sublime memory of Bangkok.

Street Food Feast

Out of one corner of your eye you watch the bright green VW beetles whizzing round the Zocalo in downtown Mexico City, while the rest of your body is finely attuned to the tiny old lady  in front of you. And, in front of her, the accoutrements of her trade; large, round, green, crispy tortillas piled high, an array of salsas, advocado, chilli, tomato, maybe some shredded cheese: “a gusto, a gusto”, she urges, keen to serve the hungary businessman waiting patiently behind for his tostada, or taco, or quesadilla, or gordita or picada…..hmmm…Oh Si Si…

How about a banana leaf topped with boiled yucca, sharp cabbage salad and a hunk of crispy pig skin courtesy of a young Nicaraguan girl, this delicacy sounds unusual but is in actual fact utterly delicious. And the simple cabbage salad served throughout Central America is just fresh shredded cabbage, lime juice and salt – delectable and incredibly easy to remember.

Often, trying to recreate a dazzling dish once back at home, can feel frustratingly impossible, but only because each mouthful and memory is steeped with the exotic overtones particular to you in that wonderful moment – and those memories you cannot make.

Yet it is in the trying, and the eating, that you can sit back and and recall that mouth-watering epiphany.

Chicken is one of the few meats I buy with regularity and its stock is normally what I crave once the carcass has been devoured by my family. Inevitably, I endlessly try to recreate that first Thai soup I had so many years ago each and every time.

Simple, filling, nutritious and delicious, the binlids adore it now as much as I do. And one day, I imagine they will taste the original for themselves, but will they be reminded of their mum? Or of being sat in a busy street clamouring with noise and heat.

Thai Style Noodle Soup

Onion diced
Garlic sliced
Ginger as above
Hot chicken stock
Glass Noodles or any noodles
Peas
Bok choi
Spring onions
Lettuce
Chard
Any manner of greens – basically
Fresh mint and or corriander
Fresh chilli finely cut
Lime wedges
Fish sauce

Saute the onion, garlic and ginger until golden and soft, add steaming hot chicken stock to the pan. Throw in the noodles and stir with a fork or chopsticks to separate – cook as instructed on packet – no more than a few minutes. Prepare your greens to throw in at the last minute: peas, green beans, bok choi, spinach, chard, lettuce, into the steaming broth – you want them crunchy.

Serve with a squeeze of lime, a drop of fish sauce, some fresh coriander, mint, sliced spring onions and finely sliced chilli – enjoy.

Silverlinings

Not everybody has the luxury of experimenting with death.

But watching someone you love walk the dark path of cancer, and realising at each step that its not going to get better, allows you great perspective.

As death becomes the obvious conclusion you start to relinquish the shackles of life, the dull minutiae that normally oppresses much of your day.

Light, suddenly shines from the small things you took for granted; a drink with an old friend, dancing to live music, watching your children run naked and laughing in their glee, clean sheets on your bed…Image

We are surrounded by so much that is so wonderfully simple and pure.

And sometimes it takes a brush with death to allow you to see your incredible life for what it truly is.

For clarity to seep through the crap.

For you to smile with your luck for all that you have.

It is not always so clear, so obvious or so simple, the silver-lining to so many black moments – but it is always there – if you hunt around for it. 

 

Pops

My dad is dying.

I am helpless to his health,

Just a voyeur on this journey of his.

This bear of a man who held my hand in his.

Who daubed my cheeks with shoe polish and snuck me down the fields to watch the badgers at sunset.

Always a grizzly, later; a silverback.

Now, just a tiny bird, in bed – whose limbs are so frail they barely work…anymore.

This man who distrusted every boy I ever bought before him.

Whose anger and wrath, and love, and sorrow…I have felt to the seed of my soul

Splintering and shattering every single, tiny, piece…then tugging me all anew, with those simple words: I love you Han.

Tarmac – that dark treacle, clinging, black forest was his making…and his breaking.

My dad.