Thursday, 26 February 2009

Only one garment left to iron - and it can stay there for a while

This is a ramble through lots of loosely connected thoughts. That is what comes of having a hoppity mind. Like a grasshopper, actually - it leaps about in random and unexpected directions.

Dr P has just finished his tax return. He got an extension of time due to his age and decrepitude. We are both very relieved. It is bad enough worrying about my own tax return, but Dr P's is complicated, and there is no way I could do it. He really needs to get a tax agent. I was able to download the appropriate form for him. Brownie points for me!

I have finished the ironing except for one pair of pants. These have slits up the back of the legs and thus are rather drafty. Plus a drop of bleach took some colour out on the thigh, so they are not the sort of thing I can wear out. They can stay in the ironing basket.

The cleaners came today, and I have finally had enough of them. They don't do all the things they are supposed to do, and when I noted that they had not vacuumed under the rugs upstairs, they did one, but not both! I did say 'rugs' plural. They skimp on things, and I have had enough of trying to ensure they do what was agreed to. So we will part company, and now I have to find other cleaners. Yes, I know, I lead a hard life.

We have been watching this weird British programme about rival methods of baby rearing. One is a rigid and obsessed devotee of the Truby King method, or rigid routines, feeding the baby every four hours, holding it at a distance rather than cuddling it in your arms. Cuddling is  generally limited to ten minutes a day. Otherwise the baby will be the boss of the mother! Babies are put in their prams and spend the day outside, as fresh air is good for them, and tires them out so that they sleep at night!

The next method is that recommended by Dr Spock. This is much more relaxed and easy going and less doctrinaire.

The last method, in its way as rigid as that of the fearsome Truby King female, follows the practices of primitive Amazon tribes. The baby is carried all the time, in a sling and can be passed around and cuddled by anyone and everyone. It is fed on demand and sleeps with the parents. 

It comes across as turf wars. What surprises me is how insecure and ready to be dominated some parents are. I wonder whether the series will conclude that all babies probably settle down much the same, whatever the 'method', as they mature?

My mother evidently started off using the Truby King method, which must have been in vogue during the WW2 years. I came across her booklet in a cupboard when I would have been about 13 or 14, and read it with some fascination. Babies were fed four hourly, on the dot. Etcetera. My mother had seven children, and got much more relaxed as time went on. By the time I read this book there were six children. We talked about it all. My mother described how, with her first baby, she would sit anxiously watching the clock while the unfortunate baby screamed its poor little head off, until the hour struck, and then the baby could get fed. I am not sure how 'difficult' any of us were, but certainly remember that when the babies were put to bed they did sleep pretty well. But what the first weeks were like I have no idea. Probably they followed the usual pattern of sleepless and disturbed nights while everyone got to know each other and learned what to do. But I remember the babies being put outside in their prams to sleep.

Being the second eldest child, I learned a lot of practical baby care from my mother - and most people we knew had large families, so you just got on with it all - and so when my precious first baby was born, I felt fairly confident, and expected her to go to sleep after a feed. The first night home, when I put her to bed, she bleated a bit, but I told her father she would go to sleep soon. Which she did. 'How did you know?' he asked, bemusedly. She was a very easy baby. And totally gorgeous, of course. Naturally we gave ourselves the credit for being excellent parents. Our second was not so easy, for a variety of reasons, but we stopped being smug. I had a copy of Dr Spock, which was very helpful, but it was just a guide. Good for checking stages of development, illnesses, tantrums, etcetera. 

Yesterday I had lunch with a few friends. One told me her 30-something year old daughter has been off work for several months because she caught whooping cough, and has been fearfully and horrifically ill. It seems vaccinations don't protect you all throughout your adult life.

In between all these things I had another computer lesson, a couple of Italian classes, and have lots of books I am dipping into. One, a history of art by Paul Johnson, discussed bridges as art forms as well as examples of high precision and practical engineering, and this led me to look up some of the bridges he mentioned on the internet. There are some fabulous bridges. The work of Santiago Calatrava is just fantastic. I dropped into Abbeys after the Italian class to see what books they have on bridges, and they found a very good book. I haven't bought it. Yet. But I might.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

And still they burn

As I get into the stride of the year, already it seems to be rushing past. Maybe it is because February is a short month, and it is almost March. But with the fires still burning, still threatening lives and property, and still being so very ominous, I cannot help wondering whether the fires will never end, and whether it will ever rain and douse the lot of them. Surely it must end.

I keep thinking of those beautiful forests, of the lovely small towns, of the places I visited as a child, but which I have never had the time to revisit for so many years. Instead we did a lot of pounding up and down the Hume Highway, and spending the time seeing family. That was the most important thing, but somehow I always hoped that one day it would be possible to roam around and revisit so many places in Victoria. It is such a beautiful place. 

Some visits we made are now very misty memories. As a very small child I went with my mother, sister, and friends to Officer, and looking at the small plants of Victoria's floral emblem, the epacris impressa, or heath. (I hope I got that right.) I always loved the native plants, and they were not grown in domestic gardens very often, so to see them you had to head for the bush. Not many people owned cars, the roads were narrow, and there was the dreaded phenomenon of the Sunday drivers, who clogged up the roads!

I also remember going to Ocean Grove. There are a couple of photos of my sister and me sitting on rocks, wearing our horrid woollen bathing costumes, which were incredibly difficult to get off once they were wet. There are not many photos from my childhood, and there are generally several years between each set of photos. The photos are tiny - about 2 by 4 inches! 

As we got older, and there were more of us children, we used to have holidays in the country -we would travel to or through Port Fairy, Eildon, Yarra Glen, Marysville, Jamieson and Kevington, where we would swim in the Goulburn river, and walk through the bush, taking care not to fall down the old disused gold shafts. I remember the hot drives in the summer, and the times when the car would break down, for example on the road to Mansfield, and we would all be stuck on the side of the road until help arrived, often hours later. We would have occasional trips to the Dandenongs, and revel in the beauty of the bush.

When my family was young we'd go on holidays in Victoria, meeting  friends and staying together. The trips were long, but the countryside was so beautiful, especially coming down the Cann River road. The Victorian towns were so much more attractive than those in New South Wales. I read somewhere years ago - I can't remember who wrote it but would love to find it again - that the environs of our childhood are imprinted on our minds and memories - the way the shadows fall, the quality of the light, the landscapes, and that many feel a deep need and desire to return to the places from whence we came. In the last couple of years I have had a couple of trips around the Port Phillip Bay area, where we used to have beach holidays, and to see those typical beach shores filled me with delight.

The National Botanic Gardens were opened in Canberra in about 1970, and they provided - and still do - a beautiful and tranquil environment with so many native Australian plants. They became much more readily available in those years, and there developed a more relaxed and informal style of gardening. Coming from the school of 'plant as much as you can possibly fit into the available space' I had a large and varied garden. Last year, towards the end of winter, I spent some hours wandering around the Botanic Gardens, on a rather bitterly cold day with drizzling almost freezing rain. Not many plants were flowering, but there were many things to enjoy: the beauty of the gardens, the variety of the plants, the bird life, and the tranquillity of the site on the edge of Black Mountain, so close to the city, but yet so separate. It was the time when my dear friend Viv was dying: she died on the last day of winter.

So we take comfort from wherever we may find it. We trust there will be regeneration and regrowth, of our land and in our lives and hearts. We go on.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Blood ties

Dr P's ears got syringed out a couple of days ago and were cleared completely of all the wax, and all of a sudden I can speak to him in a fairly normal tone of voice and he can hear me! And the radio and TV too. Oh bliss! It has made quite a difference. My next trick will be to get him to the audiologist. He says no, but I say yes.

I spent much time preparing my argomento for the Wednesday Italian class. We take it in turns to prepare something on a topic of our own choice. I find it difficult to choose a topic, and the other three class members always come up with very interesting things. I gave an account of my trip, in the company of one of my sisters, and her husband, to the island off the coast of Croatia where my maternal grandfather was born. Our father and two of our siblings had made a visit years before, and we knew we had cousins there, who had for some years lived in Australia but had then returned to the island.

We made this trip in September, 2001, very shortly after the attack on the Twin Towers of 11 September. My sister and her husband had been on a cruise in the Mediterranean, and this finished about the same time as my tour of Italy. We took advantage of this and organised a trip to the island. There were only four days available. To get there we had to fly to Dubrovnik and then go by ferry to the island of Korcula, where we booked an overnight stay. The next morning w took a taxi to the village, and on arrival our  taxi driver asked an old man sitting outside a house where we might find our cousin. To our great surprise, we heard a voice answering us, speaking English with an Australian accent. This woman had married a man from the island and they had returned there to live. Naturally they knew everyone. She knew where our cousin was, telephoned her and she came immediately. Our taxi had stopped just outside the house where her parents in law lived.

It was a very emotional meeting for us. I am sure there is such a thing as recognition of one's blood kin, and that we experienced it on this visit. Although we had less than a day together, we felt we loved the family immediately and this cousin in particular. Her life seemed a hard one to us. She was married with two children, and her husband was a sailor, who was away for half of the year. His parents were quite old and his mother had suffered a stroke which had left her quite disabled. Her memory came and went, but she was able to recollect much of the family history. Our cousin had the care of her in-laws. Although it was many years since her school days in Australia, she was still able to speak perfect English. We went to the village pub while the family had lunch. It was a Sunday, and we had not been able to contact them before our arrival. At the pub, the men from the village were all sitting around, drinking and playing cards. No women were there, and all the men stared to see two women arrive. There was no food available, so we just had a glass of wine. My sister showed the waitress the photos her daughter had taken on her visit a couple of years previously and the waitress recognised our cousin's father, who was in the pub, and brought him over to us. His daughter joined us and we spent some hours together before it was time to return to the main town. She drove is back, as she was meeting her daughter there. I was amazed, when we met her son, to find there was a resemblance to my own son. Yet, looking at my son, I don't see any resemblance to my side of the family. Evidently my genes lie low, lurk, and do not manifest themselves in obvious ways.

Since our visit one of my brothers has also visited. He spends a lot of time researching the family history and the amount now known about many of our relations is immense. Our visit remains a very precious memory for us all, and it was good to relive it. As for recognising the blood tie, little kids seems to bond very readily with their grandparents and other relations, especially their cousins. I noted this with my own children. We lived far away from our families, but when we visited each other, it was remarkable how quickly and strongly the family ties re-emerged. I note that as we are aging, my brothers and sisters and I, we want to spend more and more time together.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Recovering through ordinary things.

Today it feels good to be relatively idle. This morning I had a physio appointment. My nice young physiotherapist from NZ works wonders with my legs and feet. Some time ago I had a stress fracture of the foot when I fell up the steps from the dining room to the kitchen. I did not realise it, so kept doing things like chasing the grandchildren and their dogs and thus exacerbated the injury until I could scarcely hobble around the block. Now I am much fitter, and continue having the physiotherapy equivalent of a regular grease and oil change. I must admit I do not do my stretching exercises often or religiously enough. Mea culpa.

But my poor physio! While he was away, he tripped over his malfunctioning thong, trod on a piece of plate glass and cut THREE tendons in his foot. He's had three operations, a couple of infections, was off work for six weeks and today was his first day back. He has to wear a rigid sandal for some time to come. While he was off work, he has been watching lots of films, so he had plenty to recommend. We don't get to see many films. Partly this is due to a disparity in our tastes, and often when we resolve to go, Dr P gets tired and wimps out.

After the physio appointment I went off for my next computer lesson. It was at a pretty basic level, which will enable me to advance to other things. 

Dr P's hearing got much worse last week, and he needs to have his ears cleaned out. The first ear gets done tomorrow, and then we start work on the second - using drops to soften all this evil ear wax. This hearing loss, which I devoutly hope will be temporary, has made the domestic environment difficult. Dr P needs the TV, etcetera, turned up to volume levels which I find physically distressing, and which for all I know might be damaging my own hearing. While we were at the GP's the other day I got him to give Dr P a referral to a different audiologist, to check out whether a new hearing aid might give Dr P better results. He wears only one of his hearing aids, as the second one won't fit easily into his ear, so he has just given up on it. Surely there must be a better solution. It is worth a try, anyway.

Another reason for welcoming idleness is that my second daughter visited for the weekend, with her two children. I have not seen them since Christmas, so it was lovely to see them all. My daughter had racing photographic work to do, so I minded the children for a good seven hours (it felt longer), and by the end of the day I was rooted! My granddaughter, who is, she told me, a BIG girl now, has stopped having an afternoon sleep. It was a rainy day, so options for entertainment were rather limited. We went to the park, via the harbour foreshore, where we spied some men fishing, so my grandson happily questioned them about their fishing techniques and prospects of success. Then we went to a park, and after that went to one of my favourite cafes, where they make and sell the most delicious gelato you can find in this city, and had coffee and babychinos. The kids really wanted marshmallows with their babychinos, but this cafe does not provide marshmallows, so they had to make do with froth. Froth is pretty good fun, actually. We had a nice time together, but there were a couple of times when the squabbles between the two of them required stern grandmotherly words, and a couple of times I sent one or the other into the corner. 

I managed some weeks ago to find a very pretty dress for my granddaughter, so gave it to her. She was very thrilled, and insisted on wearing it all day - and again the next day. It suited her: she looked graceful and gorgeous. A certain amount of skirt swirling and twirling went on. Her mother says she is developing a passion for pink (and purple). (This dress is blue and white.) She is certainly very keen on pretty things, and eyes my necklaces and beads with true appreciation. There are far too many tizzy clothes and over-sexualised outfits for little children, and so the things I buy her are pretty, but sensible.

Unlike her brother, she is quite indifferent to the charms of Lego. Actually, so am I. My incompetence with Lego makes me feel quite inferior, and I cannot excuse this on the grounds of there not being any Lego around when I was a child.  I just don't think in terms of putting small things together in order to make large and complicated objects. However, combining ingredients into delicious meals comes fairly readily. All of this makes me think about innate characteristics. 

Thursday, 12 February 2009

A mixed day - the aftermath

Although the fire danger is lessening, with cooler weather and some rain, more details of the deaths and destruction continue to arrive. This morning the death tally had not risen officially, but there are many more to be confirmed, and victims must be identified. There is the possibility that some bodies may never be identified, or that some bodies may not be discovered. The total number of burnt houses is well over one thousand now. It seems that some, perhaps many, fires may have bit deliberately lit, and there is outrage and anger that such destruction may have been caused by arsonists stupidly and callously indifferent to the consequences of their actions. To most of us it is incomprehensible. 

There is debate about whether people could have been warned sooner, or whether they should have been more cautious and evacuated earlier. It  seems certain that the fires, fuelled by the changes in wind directions, came incredibly quickly, and that many people simply did not have time to flee. Roads were blocked very quickly by fires and falling trees, and safe areas would have been quite far away. Many of those who tried to escape died in their cars. The images of so many incinerated and crashed cars are dreadful. The survivors are brave and stoical. 

There has been the most incredible, generous and warm-hearted response to the plight of the victims. Money has poured in to the various appeals. I think the total so far is over $50 million. In addition to donations by individuals, and businesses, many organisations are putting on special functions and events to help raise money. My choir met last night and passed around a bucket, which gathered $550, and at the concert I went to on Tuesday night collection baskets were everywhere.  This sort of thing is happening everywhere. Donations of clothes, toys, food, blankets, caravans, accommodation are accumulating quickly, and it will be a huge task to distribute goods and money to people. It seems even the Queen has given money - as indeed one would think she should. There is to be a national day of mourning.

I find it wonderful and something to be very proud of that we as a people have responded in this way, just as we did to the victims of the tsunami. 

The anti-greens have started blaming the greens, and forest conservation practices, which in recent years have opposed controlled burnings to reduce the amount of undergrowth. Others see the fires as a result of climate change. Many of us cannot know who is right. Maybe a bit of both. Perhaps we need to blend viewpoints instead of seeing things as black and white. Questions should be asked and answers sought, and much thinking and planning will have to take place. If such fires are likely to happen more frequently - and these are the worst in out history - we must work out how to avoid and mitigate their effects. Research and debate must be rigorous, and based on knowledge and not bias.

There has been some media coverage which has turned my stomach - cases where reunions of families have taken place with cameras encircling them only an arms length away, photographing close ups of weeping and emotional faces. There needs to be some reserve shown by media and onlookers, and to respect privacy.

The weather here is cool and we have just had a heavy shower. Apparently the hot weather will soon recur. 

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The tragedy of the fires: we are all mourning

The dreadful, appalling fires in Victoria have everyone in mourning and wanting to help. We can't watch without tears. Our hearts ache for the suffering so many people have endured. Already millions of dollars have been donated towards relief funds - a staggering and superb response. It is wonderful to see people's generosity, of spirit, effort and money. The death toll is still rising - this morning it was over 170 - people trapped and incinerated with less than a few minutes warning of disaster. The fires continue to rage.

My own troubles seem very small, although real enough. I am so glad to have the support of family, friends and visiting bloggers. SD3 (kind) is coming for a few days in March and has offered her care of Dr P so I can have time away.

I am learning from it all, and intend to overcome meanness and pettiness of soul - my own and that of others. I am thinking on the concepts and reality of love for others and of forgiveness. Life is too short not to do so.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


The PP - now to be known as the WSD (Wicked Step Daughter) replied to my letter, and the email was on the computer when I got up yesterday morning. Dr P had got to the computer before me, and had read it. He ignores my repeated telling him that my emails are private and he is not to read them. So he was shitty, and that makes 100 per cent of the inhabitants of our house. When I finish learning about the computer he won't be able to read my stuff any more. Really private stuff is through the other email address and I am certainly not communicating it to anyone in that family.

I don't blame Dr P all that much as I can't expect him to ignore or to favour me over his own flesh and blood. Even though I am the one who cares for him and does everything for him. I was pissed off, though, when he said that his daughter was a very intelligent woman and I was only a simple soul, so therefore...I have said my piece to him quite forthrightly, and that I acted in good faith, a quality conspicuously lacking in his daughter.

The end result is that all that agonising, all that effort to see whether we could improve the relationship was a complete waste of time and effort. It was something that I really thought I should try to do. I took such care with the letter, emphasising my desire to improve the relationship, and trying to soften it, while still stating that I could no longer tolerate her many discourtesies, and that these had been the cause of problems between us. She has not taken one step towards anything positive. I have put up with her for nigh on 20 years, acting as though I did not exist, ignoring my presence in my own home, countervailing my sleeping arrangements, answering my telephone, inviting others to stay, going through my cupboards, freezing me out of conversations, or flatly contradicting me.

She may be an eminent and learned person and a high flyer in international bureaucracy, but I reckon she is a total bitch, self-absorbed and self-righteous.

I am, according to her, resentful, insecure, frustrated, unhappy full of angst, and she cannot solve my problems for me, which are nothing to do with her! Well, I freely admit to resenting her behaviour, but tried all these years to tolerate her and to overcome my own shortcomings. Which I freely admit. I avoid conflict, and while I have done what I thought was right, it was difficult to do it in an ungrudging spirit.  All this time I have never tried to prevent her visits, I  have tried to make her welcome, have prepared accommodation for them, shopped, cooked food for them, given up my bedroom to them, put up with their constant use of my computer without asking, tried to get on with her husband and children (who are actually much nicer). It is not her father who gives up anything or does anything special during her visits. I think that is much truer courtesy than her smiling by-passing of me in my own home. In my defence, anyone to whom I have told the details of my  trials with her has been appalled by her rudeness, and friends who have known her since she was a baby say she was always a loner, and always self-absorbed and difficult. And she very evidently has problems getting on with her own mother, who has been very upset about this. My ground rules are 'fine if these reduce the perceived threats and disruption that our visits involve'. How gracious! Fancy having to specify these to a woman in her mid 40s. I 'should assume' that they won't ever stay here again.

Halleluia. If that is so, I have achieved something.

I have not yet decided whether to send any sort of reply. I am letting off steam here, and also writing various biting retorts, but I will consider very carefully what, if anything, to say or do. I don't know whether this will now spill over into my relationship with her sisters: I will have to wait and see, and handle those things if and when they arise. I am glad that I finally managed to tell her why I find her visits to be such a problem.

I understand full well that step-relationships are rarely easy and straight forward. In my case I have put a lot of effort and good will into getting on with the step-daughters (far more than Dr P has ever put into his relationship with my children - he really tries to prevent their visits). Dr P is not brilliant at human relationships and tries to avoid or ignore conflict, except of course if  he is the one who wishes to dish it out. He is an old style male. 

My father remarried, and there were problems with the marriage, although for the most part it worked well for them - but my father would not have tolerated from his children for one minute the sort of behaviour I have had to put up with - nor would any of us acted rudely to our stepmother. So I was aware of many of the pitfalls, but of course people go into new relationship optimistically and lovingly and assume that these qualities will overcome problems. They don't always work, more's the pity.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Excuses, excuses! The big splash.

Finally I have activated one of the New Year's resolutions, and have been for a swim. It is months since the last swim. When it got too cold to plunge into the water, I stopped going. As last year was so difficult, my motivation slumped, I ate too much, and the weight piled on. All my health professionals urged me to exercise, assuring me that it would make me feel better. I fobbed them all off.

Coping with my friend Viv's illness and death, with the misery, isolation and loneliness which afflicted me last year, and with the stress of the unresolved PP, was as much as I could manage, other than to resolve that next year - ie this year, I would get back to exercise. Because I have had people to help me, I did feel that when I was ready, I would plunge once more into the pool - actual and metaphorical. It was necessary to concentrate on one thing at a time, and to work through that, before moving on to the next thing. The death, the funeral, seeking help, the PP, working on being assertive and trying to do so in a pleasant and positive manner. One thing at a time, until I could keep a couple of balls in the air.  Exercise seemed a low priority.

Swimming used to be my exercise. I was quite good at it and enjoyed it immensely. The mind floats free while you swim, and does all sorts of interesting things. Maybe meditation is like that? Every time I swam I would realise anew how pleasurable it was. There was a pool at my workplace, and our medium density community housing development also had a pool, so I had many opportunities.

I have never been a keen walker,  although at one time I used to get up early and walk for an hour before going to work. We lived on the outskirts of our suburb, and good walks were close by in the low hills near the Murrumbidgee River. When I moved to Sydney, it all became less feasible. The heat and humidity deterred me from both walking and swimming. Because I developed lymphoedema, following breast cancer treatment and long term drug treatment,  I overheated very easily, and my arm would start swelling. Walking was out, and swimming too, as the water temperature in the pools was so warm that I could not stay cool while I swam. I tried going to a gym for 'healthy aging' but then Dr P had emergency spinal surgery and was in hospital for many weeks. That disrupted my fitness momentum. And I could never remember the settings on those damn gym machines.

Such impressive excuses that I have!

But now! I am no longer taking the drug. My body has acclimatised to the Sydney climate. The lymphoedema has settled down. I know full well that the time is right to get back into the water.

Last year, when I started swimming again, naturally  I found I was very unfit. It was a struggle to get to the other end of the pool. Rests between laps were needed. I managed to build up to about 700 or 800 metres, at a slow and awkward pace. Then it got too cold for comfort.

Today it was a relief to find that my fitness was better than expected. I swam 700 metres - fairly slowly, but without getting too puffed out. Rests at each end were shorter. This is very encouraging. When I finished the swim, it felt very good. So why not do this more often?

Now I need to find the best time of day to go. Today the pool was full of people. The under-fives were having swimming lessons in the indoor pool. Outside older adults were doing aqua aerobics, two lanes were reserved for squad practice (not sure what that means), and there was a fast lane. I am not fast any more, so I went into the remaining lap lane. It was rather crowded. One man had a kick board, a couple of people wore snorkels, another few kept changing their strokes, and others swam quite fast. Then there was me, ploughing slowly up and down  in my only competent stroke - freestyle. As I left, after 11 am the pool suddenly was less crowded. Maybe that's the time to go.

Swimming is so enjoyable. All the little kids were so happy. The dressing room revealed us to be all sizes and shapes - not at all like models or actresses. Bodily variety and imperfections abounded. But who cares?

I did the shopping, then came home, opened the draft letter to the PP, made a couple of minor amendments, and then sent it off. I have at last stated my point of view.

I wonder when and what will be the result? 

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

It is February now and we are back to Real Life.

The older grandchildren are back at school, and the new boys have started happily, so their families tell me. You can read all about one of them here. I think his mother is recovering her equanimity and adjusting to the transformation of her little one into a schoolboy. I don't need to worry about my own equanimity quite yet, as there are still two grandchildren with a few years to go between them. (I am, of course, quite happy to have the tally increased! I do love babies.) But I don't remember being weepy when my children started school - just delighted and proud.

I went to school myself today. I started having One to One classes on my iMac. It was a slow learning process for me as the concepts and structures sank in rather slowly. Time and repetition might increase the learning rate. I sure hope so. Anyway, apart from being embarrassed by my slowness, and wondering whether my nice kind tutor would go away afterwards and say to his mates, 'Oh boy, you should have had that sheila - she was so slow', it was good. My head is not full yet, so I intend to keep pouring stuff into it. That's the theory, anyway.

On Monday the opera study group recommenced. It was great. Tomorrow one of the Italian classes resumes. We are all looking forward to it. After a couple of months of rest, it might take some time before we recover some fluency. Choir practice is tomorrow night. Soon I have to start on my task for the first lesson of the other Italian class next week. It is rather daunting - the development of the Italian language. One of my good mates says she has just the book I need. You can't keep a good librarian down.

Now for some splenetic reaction to a court sentence. An 18 year old girl has been sentenced to several months jail for a graffiti offence.  I would have sentenced her to the same period, not of prison, but of actually removing graffiti. All day long, every day. In the hot weather, too. Let her know what the victims go through. There!

And a mild domestic gripe. Having splurged on buying DVDs in the last fortnight, I thought tonight I might have a bit of couch potato time. But Dr P wanted to watch Two and a half Men.  I can't stand that program, especially not the obnoxious brat in it, but Dr P (who is a  bloke, of course) thinks it is funny. So I kindly let him, and retired here instead to contribute to the world's vast store of deathless prose. But when will I get the chance to watch the entire Palliser series, When the Boat Comes In, and The Secret Army? Or the ones the children gave me for Christmas? I also bought Brideshead Revisited, but don't need to watch that for ages yet, as it has recently been back on the free to air TV. 

I know it is a good thing to stimulate the economy, especially now, but I think I have done my bit, and should keep away from the shops for quite some time to come.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Life going on.....

I am home from a day trip to commemorate my friend. Many people came from interstate, and we were joined in our mourning and in our remembrances of our dear friend who brought so much joy, richness and love to all our lives. It was truly significant to all present. Family and friends were able to select music or literature which they felt our friend had made special, and I was one of those so privileged. And two of my photos were used in the commemorative booklet. I hope that his dear family gained some consolation from this loving gathering.

My heart is still too full to describe it all and I am not sure that I want to do so, except to say none of us will ever forget it. Somehow I feel that I should keep this  private, and 'ponder these things in my heart'.

I feel very tired. I was unwell the previous night and day, and am not yet over it completely. Dr P looked after me well, and has been sympathetic, so I have not had to bear it all by myself. On the flight I had the company of another dear friend, and we have urged each other to keep hanging on to that perch...and to see more of each other. What is more precious than those we love? So I make resolutions to be good and loving towards family and friends, and to treasure them all. And not to repine about the unfairness of dear friends dying before their time - it just happens that way, alas, and why should any of us be exempt from grief and woe?

And is it not extraordinary how life does indeed go on? I've laughed at funny blogs, watched the tennis, read various books, and enjoyed them all. I have played a lot of my music CDs,  the ones I find profoundly emotional, and they do express what I have been feeling. Especially Schubert.