Friday, 31 December 2010

Have a go! And now, Yes, it has gone!

Every time I start thinking I can cope and that they will all be gone in a few days, something happens that socks me in the eye. I had, foolishly, thought that Dr P's daughters would have been satisfied with the money they'd got only a few days ago.

But wait! There was more. Money to gain, that is.

After the last very large transfer of money from him to them, lo and behold, they have done it again. Yesterday's little effort removed three quarters of the remainder of his cash assets. They have helped themselves to 90 per cent of it in all. Cheque butts neatly filled in by the WSD. This took place while I was out of the house doing the food shopping.

Don't they ever think that he might need to have ready access to cash, if he needs, as he surely will, to move into a nursing home?

I was so outraged when I discovered this latest raid that I remonstrated vigorously that it was unconscionable and reprehensible of his daughters to demand and take this money, but all I got was a mumbled response about his evening up what he had given initially to one daughter as a loan, which was to have been deducted from her share of the inheritance.  And then further comments that I was jealous, grasping, and wanted his money for myself. He was very abusive to me.

They MUST realise that he is incapable of handling his affairs rationally! Surely they are using that very fact. These women, all with high incomes and amounts of property, have been here day after day, while he has asked them time and time again, with only a few moments between his questions,  where they work, where they live, what they do, who are their children and how old are they, while haring him ask me has he had his daily medicine, minutes after he has swallowed it. And then presumably they would claim that he has the capacity to manage his affairs. Well, a mere 6 months ago he would not have given away all this money. They, of course, are all returning to their various foreign countries and of course do nothing for him of practical use. Bloodsuckers, they are.

Dr P does not have an appointment with a geriatrician until late March, and the Guardianship Tribunal will not act without a medical report.

This morning after his shower he could not walk unaided back to the bedroom and it took all my efforts and strength to get him the several metres from the bathroom to the bed. It was all I could do to keep him upright. My mind raced ahead to the possibility of admission to a nursing home sooner rather than later, and how it could all be arranged. He has recovered somewhat. Who knows how he will be tomorrow and in the future?

The WSD and family leave tomorrow, all missions accomplished. Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Where did I put my cheerfulness?

I am sure I left it somewhere around, but I am damned if I can find it right now. How pathetic!

There is probably a land not far away characterised by really soggy heaps, into which you trip, fall, wallow and struggle to escape from.  That is where I have been and perhaps still am. Where bogs suck you under, and sap your strength, and the capacity to hope.

My daughter visited me, and she was terrific. Although I don't think I was able to fully rejoice in her presence and support, and fell apart quite a lot, I was so glad to have her here, and she helped with Dr P and the latest stepdaughter, her partner and children. Now she has gone back home, and I miss her acutely.

Tomorrow brings more stepdaughters and step-grandchildren.

However. We went out for a walk while Dr P had his nap, and visited the Red Cross Op Shop, where she picked up several rather snazzy pieces of clothing for remarkably little, and a pair of purple sandals too - they probably won't be very comfortable but they are purple and look nice. And I picked up a very colourful sundress, for when Sydney reverts to its usual summer horrors - a loose and floaty thing which does not look too bad at all. My daughter was very impressed by the quality of the local op shop - one of the few local places which was open yesterday.

We had to hang around all day yesterday waiting for SD4 to turn up. Firstly they suggested coming here at 9 am. No, I said, Dr P won't be up and ready by them. 10 am then? Yes. At 11 she rang to say they were running late, and would not arrive before 12. Some time considerably after 12, she rang to say they would more likely arrive about 2 pm. About 3.20 they rang to say they were out buying a car seat for the 2 year old and might arrive by about 4 pm. At 5 pm they still had not arrived, so we went out for a walk along the foreshore, where we observed a couple of fishermen toss a microscopic toad fish back into the sea. SD4 has young children and they have just arrived from a week's holiday in Thailand, but it occurs to me that they could have thought ahead to the need for a folding cot and a car seat, and perhaps one of them could have tried to do something about it in the morning.

My daughter and I had hoped to get into the city for an hour or two, to get to the wool shop, which has been having a sale, but never made it. Of course, I am not sure that it was open, and I am of course sympathetic to the exigencies of small children. But still, my daughter was here for only one full day and it would have been nice to have got out for a little while instead of hanging around watching the clock.

Whinge, whinge, bitch bitch. My needs are not their needs. I know that. I am just determined, so it seems to me, to be as miserable and unreasonable as possible about all of this, gloomily thinking that the rest of the week will be even worse, with the return of the WSD and family. And when I get into this mode, it convinces me that I have an infallible propensity for stuffing up my life and for making the wrong decision all the time. And to feel exceedingly trapped, and that I can do no better.

I must haul myself up by the scruff of my neck, gird my loins, grit my teeth, put my nose to the grindstone and my shoulder to the wheel, and just do better. Just because the weather has been extremely soggy is no excuse for me to follow suit.

I need a a nice crochet project, possibly with purple wool. This might help me cope with the tedium and repetition of their conversation. Surely the mind is far better occupied with the complexity of crochet patterns than with the available alternatives. I reckon so.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Some people might use the word depredations. I couldn't possibly say.

It has been a stressful few days, despite the tranquillisers. The visitors have been so very keen to see Dr P, and eager for me to go out. I smelled large rats - and I had to deal with lots earlier this year, but where there is a will there is a way. Except some people don't want to wait for the will, and so they have managed to extract some prior advantage. Three fifths of what is readily available, to be precise.

Well, it is his money to give away or keep as he pleases, and none of it was ever intended for me. While I do not think he is capable any longer of understanding or managing his affairs, his lucidity, memory and capability flash on and off, so it is not possible for mere non-medical mortals to ascertain the exact level of competence or incapacity. And the appointment with the geriatrician is not for another three months. What's the point?

So I am not doing anything, and hope not to even mention the war. Dr P has said nothing to me so far, and I wonder if he will.

Another tranquilliser combined with some wine should help. And perhaps takeaway dinner. No point slaving away over a hot stove. Nor is there any point dwelling on what must be endured, except that I wonder about so many questions. Except that right now I'd like to be out of here, and far, far away.

While the rats were gnawing away at the substance, I met a friend, whose husband is also declining. We had a lovely time lunching and talking. We travelled to Italy together in 2009 and had a great time, and we thoroughly enjoyed the recollections of the trip.

Perhaps symbolically, there was a total eclipse of the moon last night, but in Sydney it was almost over before the moon rose, and because we are on the downside of a hill, with terrace houses and tall trees obscuring the view, the moon was full and white by the time it rose into sight. I wish I had seen it.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Plagues of locusts, and the elephant is still in the room

Many of our farmers, already severely afflicted by years of drought, and now of extensive floods, must also now contend with plagues of locusts. I feel for them - I really do, and have always done so, but now sympathise with redoubled fervour, and increased understanding. For I feel similarly afflicted by pests which arrive uninvited and wreak havoc and destruction all about them.

We did have a couple of days break, during which nobody visited.

When the WSD arrived, I explained to her that she should keep her visits short - about an hour. Longer than that, I said, was liable to provoke more tiredness and confusion.  It is not about you, I said, and it is not about me: It is about your father. And please ring to check when you want to come again.

So she stayed almost two hours. And came back later that day, and told me that I 'was crowding her'.  I let them alone for most of the time, but now waft in and out as I please.

Next morning she was back again, and so was Vixen, the SD1, and again they stayed for longer than I'd specified. No conversation at all was directed to me.  A text message arrived from my brother, who has low grade prostate cancer, and I told Dr P that his PSA levels had fallen and that he would not, as expected, have surgery soon, neither of the SDs even clucked, let alone enquired. This is quite typical: when the diagnosis was first made, and I told Vixen, she just looked straight through me. (I run these little tests and checks from time to time to see whether their operating systems are functioning as normal. They always are.

I ducked out to go to the pharmacy, and on my return found Dr P had put himself to bed. He was tired. Then they left.  The same thing happened yesterday when I went shopping with a friend. Her wheels, her agenda.  I had no control over the duration of the expedition. When I returned, Dr P had been in bed for one and a half hours.

Yesterday we had another visit. I directed some conversation to her from time to time, but there was never a word from her to me. I offered her a drink, which she declined, but when I went out for 10 minutes to get milk and some cake and hot chocolate for Dr P, she made herself a drink in my absence.

She evidently has real problems dealing with mothers, mother's partners, or her father's wives. Her mother's partner is to have surgery next week for bowel cancer. WSD apparently does not speak at all to her stepfather, and 'may make a day trip' with the kids once they arrive. The kids' grandmother gets perhaps several hours with her grandchildren. Nice.

Vixen and Cubs have departed for their month's overseas holiday. Bliss. The WSD will be here most days, her family arrives on Monday and they will be around for most of the time until 1 January.

This week I needed to do some double checking on Vixen, and I have to say you cannot keep a good researcher down. With the help of a good mate, another chorister, I found what I needed. She was amazed. 'I know her', she said. 'She is awful! I cannot stand her. I have had some run ins with her. Is she his daughter? Ooh!'

Nothing like some independent verification!

Earlier this week I decided I needed chemical help, and at my request the GP prescribed tranquillisers.  I am taking one each morning, and the heaving and heart thumping have subsided to what the sea watchers describe as a mild swell. The GP wrote a referral for Dr P for the local Geriatric Clinic, but so far no one has answered the telephone.

What I find so awful about all this is the worry that I am turning into a nasty, horrid, begrudging and resentful person. Negative and hateful thoughts besiege my every minute. My mind swirls and cannot relax or let go. Oh, to be free of it all! And I miss my own family and far away friends. Today my family is having the annual Christmas picnic, and for the second year running, I cannot be there. This blog is a kind of outlet, but really what I yearn to do is to unleash some abuse. And I must not do so: it would do no good. I know this, but still long to try and make them feel as bad as they make me feel. They never would, of course. I must instead concentrate on detachment and the art of the possible. Dr P does not know the half of it, and naturally takes his children's part. Although he does appreciate the care I give him, I miss the true sympathy and understanding he neither feels nor knows how to give. I wonder whether I will ever get the chance to repair my life and to become once again my natural self.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

More woes, relatively speaking

Just when you think life is complicated enough, up pops another complication.

Here I am, in the midst of unpleasant visitations, with tortured slumbers, and heaving stomach, and all of a sudden I discover that I cannot turn off the back right burner on my cooktop. As it is a gas burner, this is a worry. Well, I suppose even if it were electric it would be a worry. We managed to turn it off, and next morning I rang, or started to ring people to try and get it fixed. After being advised that I should contact the service department of the manufacturer, I rang them and was transferred to a firm which does all their service work, and I have to wait until 23 December to get it fixed. I hope that if it needs a new part, they will bring it with them. How extraordinary to have to wait two weeks for a service call. The first thing they tell you is how much a service call, plus the first 15 minutes will cost…and the answer is plenty.

So I have covered the faulty burner and its control with foil and pasted up a note saying Do Not Use, crossed my fingers, and started to wait and to hope.

When I made the hideous error of moving here, the kitchen boasted a rather awful electric cooktop. You know, one of those which thinks it knows better than the cook. They switch themselves off and on.  They ignore any attempts you make to regulate and control the heat. Thus any real control by the cook is impossible.

I used to make fudge, using a rather delicious recipe, which avoided sickly-sweetness with the addition of cinnamon. I also used to make toffee, and cocoanut ice. You could not make fudge or any other confectionary on this abortion of an appliance, which was obviously designed by a non-cooking man who had never taken the trouble to reflect upon the various applications and use of heat. It was impossible to dissolve sugar without it partially boiling, no matter how careful you were, and as anyone with a bit of nous knows, if sugar boils before all the crystals are dissolved, the whole mixture recrystallise as soon as it cools.  A simple rule of chemistry, eh?

In the olden days, and even now, recipe books failed to give such elementary information. Indeed, I remember reading the advice that if home made jams or preserves smelt or looked funny, never to taste them, just to chuck them out straight away. They never said why, and thus most omitted to warn the hapless cook/reader of the toxicity and dangers of botulism, which is likely to be fatal if tasted. Now, of course, it seems that botulism is  every female celebrity's best friend. O tempora, or mores. Being a dedicated, not to mention compulsive researcher, I quickly discovered the reason to avoid tasting suspect looking/smelling preserves, and thus have survived to transmit the warnings. I like to know why is it so.

You could not cook a stir-fry dish on electric hotplates either, because the hotplate kept deliberately cooling itself down. Evidently it understands only the concept of the average temperature. (With the gas one, you can cook a stir fry: the only problem is that it invariably sets off the smoke alarm, and that is likely to trigger a heart attack.)

After several years of putting up with this rubbish, I managed to get the gas cooktop installed and have been a much happier cook ever since, although I stopped making fudge because eating it makes you put on weight. This happens anyway without eating fudge, I regret to say. Especially if you binge on peppermints, as I am wont to do.

However I am presently in a phase of not eating sweets – with me it really is either total binging or total abstinence, and what with all the stress, anxiety and sick feelings, some weight has actually fallen off. Which goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining, so to speak.

Why cannot we have silver linings without the horrid black clouds?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Crowded House

Would anyone like to come and stay with us? Come join the throng!

In addition to the visits from Vixen and Cub, SD3 (the one who offers to stay while I go away, but who opined that one night with Persiflage is more than enough) arrives Thursday night and is planning to stay here for three days. The WSD, or SD2, is arriving Saturday morning and 'will come and see you, Dad, on Saturday morning'. She has to work for a couple of days elsewhere, but was to return until departing on 19 December. Now, it seems, oh frabjous day, that her husband and children are also coming from USA and visiting us, Perth, Melbourne and Canberra, and no date of departure has been mentioned.

I had mentally fixed my endurance to last for a week to ten days, but it will be longer. SD4 and family arrive on Boxing Day, but probably will not stay more than a couple of days. Vixen and Cubs will be away for a month, and that should help me relax a little.  I hope.

Vixen and Cubs were here yesterday and Dr P put on one of his most impressive lack of memory performances to date. Of course, they have no idea how to talk to him to stimulate him: their conversational skills are limited to the recital of their doings, and there is never any mutuality in their discourses. Even Dr P used to admit that they were heavy going. Other visitors manage to converse - con being Latin, of course, for 'with'. Dr P brightens up considerably during their visits. Naturally.

I am thinking of getting a T-shirt inscribed with the injunction 'Please continue to ignore the elephant in the room'.

I think my second daughter and children are making a surprise visit this weekend, and I hope my nursing sister will come during the following week, her work roster permitting.

Will it be possible to suggest, I wonder, that no one should stay for, or expect to be present for a meal? Even if they go out and buy it all? I expect not.

There is more than enough for me to do without having to worry about feeding them, or having my kitchen invaded.

In all my spare time, I have organised a handyman to come and replace the drawer handle broken when Dr P fell on it, to insert the light globe in  Dr P's bathroom, to install a new doorbell, to glue back the shelf in my shower recess, and a few other little things. On Friday someone is coming to inspect and give an opinion about getting Dr P a new shower recess.

Oh, and I made the Christmas Cake, which is now sprinkled with brandy, wrapped and hidden away, against the probable depredations of Dr P. The cake took most of the day, not to mention the time it took to find all the ingredients. Eventually they were obtained from about six different shops. I mentioned last year that the quantities packaged have been reduced, so that extra has to be bought in order to have the quantities specified in the recipes. Upon my growling about this yet again to friends, it was pointed out to me that this is actually due to a filthy capitalist plot by supermarkets and suppliers, to reduce quantities instead of raising prices. Ice cream, for example, now comes in 1.8 litre containers instead of 2 litres. When I whinged to the salesperson at one shop, she raised her eyebrows, but at another shop, the more pleasant and helpful assistant said she thought it was all due to the decline in the number of people who make Christmas cakes. And it is certainly true that years ago the health food shops would have a complete array of cake ingredients, according to several recipes, but now there is relatively little on display.

But back to the cake. This recipe uses semolina rather than flour, and I had almost got to the final stage before I realised that I had not added the semolina Almost a disaster, but thanks to my lovely spurtle and the risotto stirrer, all was added and well blended. The cake cooked successfully and smells fantastically good. and I have just remembered that because the cake contains 12 egg yolks but only six stiffly beaten egg whites, I now have 6 additional egg whites and thus will have to make a pavlova.

At least making the cake gave me a feeling of accomplishment, unlike most of the rest of my life at present, which is characterised by deep gloom, a heaving stomach, and a a plethora of nasty, mean and spiteful thoughts.

Being positive and pleasant is greatly to be preferred as a mode of being.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Feeling very aggravated over this, that and the other thing

It is odd how changes suddenly become apparent. We had a busy morning yesterday, with an appointment with the audiologist. One of Dr P's bridge mates was coming to visit shortly after the appointment, and we left the house early so I could do some grocery shopping while Dr P sat in the car. This enables me to use his disabled parking sticker. Of course, it all takes longer than you think to get Dr P into the car and out, and accordingly the whizzing around the supermarket had to be done with the speed of light. I asked the young man ahead of me in the queue if I could go before him - 86 year old husband has to be at an appointment in 10 minutes, and the young man kindly agreed. Then I wondered how I was going to get the trolley and groceries across to the car and back in time, but then spied a young man on the staff reorganising the shopping trollies, and asked him to take the loaded trolley to the car and then to return it. He agreed, so we got to the appointment on time. And I did not even have the contemplate abandoning the trolley in the street.

I think it must be the first time that I have asked for this sort of help, but can see it won't be the last. And both people were kind and pleasant about it.

Once at the audiologist, it transpired that we (I) did not remember that we should have brought the old hearing aid with us, so I left Dr P there and drove back home and found it. The new mould is now in place, and Dr P had a hearing test, and it was explained to him that everything would sound loud to him for a while, but his brain and therefore ears would adjust. We (I) have ordered a set of wireless earphones for the TV which  should mean the the volume can be turned down a bit. Hurrah.

We got home just in time to receive Dr P's mate, and so I left them together (one to one conversations are easier for the deaf) while I dashed out to the pharmacy, dropped off some dry cleaning, paid the rates, bought some bread and cake treats, and a coffee for myself.

After the friend left I gave Dr P some lunch, and as he suddenly got rather shaky and confused, made him go to bed for a sleep. A regular routine with lots of rest seems essential.

I am considering ways in which Vixen could actually be more helpful, in ways other than the planning and execution of bathroom renovations. She could buy the rather peculiar large Edison screw light globe which the idiot who did the lighting in this house put in Dr P's bathroom. The bathroom has a very high ceiling, and I do not feel confident about clambering up and down ladders, reaching for the ceiling.  I got the grandson to remove it, forgetting that it was actually a globe and not a fitting. The replacement will probably be available from a large hardware store like Bunnings and it would take me about an hour to get there and back. Did he offer to buy the globe and return to install it? Silly question. No. Did I ask him? Another silly question.

Actually, forget all that. I will just get it done myself.

On Sunday I got my hair cut and coloured, having deferred yet again the decision about whether or when to let nature take its course. My hairdresser is a sweet young woman who has a young baby. Before I went on my trip, I ran into her in the street, and she told me she intended to leave the salon, which is just around the corner from us. She gave me her contact details, and said she would happily come to the house. As I was worried about leaving Dr P alone, we arranged for her to come to our house. While we were upstairs, Dr P called. He had fallen in the kitchen, very heavily - enough to break off a handle on a kitchen drawer, and could not get up. Simone and I managed to get him up, so I did not have to get emergency help, or go outside and look for help from a neighbour.  Poor Dr P has a couple of nasty scratches on his back, a big lump and a large and angry bruise. Just as well I was at home - but he still fell!

My hairdresser told me that she left her job because the owner of the salon had completely neglected to pay the compulsory superannuation component of her wages during the eight years she worked there.

What a lot of utter bastards there are in the world. She has reported him. Good.

So that was yesterday. Last night there were Defence Force 'exercises'. These involved lots of helicopters, which flew over our house at 10 to 1 am, and then flew around some distance away until about 1.30 am, but nevertheless they made enough noise to keep me awake and to get stressed about lack of sleep, etcetera. Not happy, Jan. I wonder how many people had their sleep disturbed. These exercises featured on all the News reports.

All this was more than enough to wake my Inner Grump. Actually I am not so sure that the Grump is still an Inner one. It has come right outside today and is giving out some grief.

We have had quite a lot of rain, and in Sydney this really manages to stuff up the flow of traffic. The carer rang to say that she was running very late. Not to worry, I said, I will wait until you arrive, and it does not matter if I run late too. It seems that lightning struck the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and this caused problems with the trains. Many grumpy commuters complained. I suppose they all think the government should have stopped the lightning from striking the Bridge. Of course.

My BIL rang this afternoon and sent me the draft of a letter he is sending to Vixen. Oh boy! What a compelling document it is. A real paper scorcher! It should cause quite a lot of perturbation. And frizzle her hair. Good.

Dr P was very disagreeable this afternoon, so the Inner/Outer/Total Grump pounced and bit him and (so far) is Not At All Sorry. Grrr. Seethe.

It was partially soothed by making Pesto and eating it with pasta. Dr P had to make do with Bolognese sauce. A couple of glasses of red wine did no harm, either. I have prepared my Dante for tomorrow morning, and while I sit here grumpily typing, I am listening to some lovely Rossini. Although I probably need some really grumpy, angry and disagreeable music. I can't think of any, though.

Apart from the letter, my daughter sent me a lovely card and parcel, along the lines of Don't let the Bastards Grind You Down. Thank you, darling daughter.

Monday, 29 November 2010

An apology

This afternoon my brother in law rang Vixen, telling her in very direct terms about my right to privacy, her wrong-doing in her unauthorised removal, in my absence, of documents which were not hers, the possibility of the police being called, and various other matters relating to the marriage between her father and me. He strongly suggested she return the documents, apologise to me and undertake to reform her ways. It sounds as though he gave her a big fright: he said she blustered and was very defensive at first, but was obliged to change her tune.

He rang to let me know to expect a call, and shortly after she did ring and apologise, undertook not to visit without notice, and to return the documents. We had a discussion, and I told her that she should have asked me instead of helping herself in my absence, and that her father could remember nothing about what she wanted when she visited.  She acknowledged that she had been wrong, and that her father's memory is extremely poor. I asked what her reaction would be should she discover I had been in HER house without her knowledge or permission, and had removed documents. We discussed her sister's forthcoming visit, and I specified that she should visit for short periods only, as Dr P otherwise becomes both tired and confused. And I said I would NOT be going away during the visit. I accepted her apology and said I would do my best to put all this behind me. She said that she and her sisters all appreciated my care of their father, and that if I were not there, the burden of care would fall on them. However she then swung onto the attack, telling me how dreadful she thinks the bathroom and shower recess is, and that we need a whole new bathroom. (I am not sure how I could keep Dr P washed while such work was being done.)

She arrived late in the afternoon, rang to say she had arrived, returned the documents and talked briefly to her father and me. Naturally we did not mention the war. There is no point: he should not have this burden or be put in a position of having to take one side or the other. He would not cope, and it is extremely difficult for any parent to have a child criticised or attacked. Hear no evil, see no evil....

She has not said why she wanted the documents, or why she failed to discuss it with me, so I still think she is Up to Something, which very likely involves her sister.

My brother in law intends to write her a follow up letter, which he thinks will put even more fear of God into her. I hope so. I will remain on guard.

He is very good value, my brother in law, and is able to be clear, concise, direct and forthright, not to mention being an excellent lawyer, and a decent and honourable person. He can call a spade a bloody shovel, and does not pussyfoot around. He remains ever calm and civil. I owe him a lot. His wife, my sister, told me she has been dreaming of giving Vixen a piece of her mind!

I am calmer now, although my mind is still churning and heaving,  and am so glad that this action has been taken. Even if I do fall apart and feel like an absolute sook, a soggy mass, and a scaredy cat. At least something has been achieved. But what will the future hold?

Tidying up the study and chucking stuff out is good therapy, and shortly I will be ringing people to come and take it all away.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Much too much

I don't know if I can keep going. My ebb is as low as it has ever been, and my thoughts are dire, distraught, distressed, dreadful and depressing. I feel I want to die. It is too hard.

Vixen came here while I was out, and carried off Dr P's  legal documents. I know what they are, but of course Dr P does not. I asked him did Vixen ask about anything, and he thought she did, but could not remember what. Well, I said, documents are missing from your files. What sort of documents? he asked. The sort of documents which she could use...he looked mystified.

She does not know about the one I can use, which is put away in what I hope is a safe place.

I knew she was here, because the carer phoned to let me know, and that she'd gone into Dr P's study. When I checked the filing cabinet, these documents were missing.

She left me a note, in unaccustomedly honeyed tones, giving details of her family's overseas trip, and of her sister's (the WSD) visit a couple of weeks from now. It would be 'an ideal time' for me to be able to go away. Yeah! Opportunity for mice to play - but rats and vermin more likely.

Sorry, not going anywhere.

I cannot sleep, or eat (not that that is doing me any harm, at least some weight has been coming off, and I feel like giving up, totally.

My brother in law said he would telephone Vixen, as I felt incapable of doing so, but I have not heard from him yet.

I could care for Dr P cheerfully and lovingly, as I have been doing, but I absolutely cannot cope with this sort of tension and enmity. What could possible be worth it?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Raining thoughts and whether pigs have wings

Today it is coolish, and raining. Naturally I put the washing on the line this morning, when the forecast rain looked unlikely to materialise. But it did. Mind you, I am very happy that it is raining. We had a couple of days of fearsome heat, when my brow just dripped all day. It was revolting.

Our washing machine conked out at the end of the week, and our trusty repairman advised we buy a new machine, rather than get the old one repaired for the second time this year. I had a new one in use by early afternoon on Saturday, and it has already been used several times.  The laundry is tiny and narrow, so the washing machine had to be a small one, so you can go out by the laundry door, and also get to the toilet. Our local electrical appliance shop had this particular model on special, and it was recommended by Choice. Why stuff around, I thought, just do it! So I did.

The trouble with a new appliance is that you have to read the manual. This is a most dislikable task. Somehow manuals are cast in language which is unclear and impenetrable, which certainly requires re-reading a number of times, and which clouds my mind with severe doubts and uncertainties. The old machine had a a lint filter which used to be cleaned out regularly, and acted as a sort of indicator of the wear and tear being experienced by all our linen and clothes. The new one has no lint filter. The place where you put the detergent is something of a mystery, and it took a number of tries before I managed to work out how to extract the piece where you put the fabric softener.

Anyway it does seem to wash well. However, the lid is not flat, which means you cannot rest a container of detergent on it. This is a more serious matter than it may sound, as there is no flat surface anywhere in the laundry. The nice men who delivered the machine installed it for me, and managed to bang their foreheads on the clothes dryer above the machine, not once, but twice. And they took the old machine away. After that I walked up to the shop to pay for it all.

I like to buy from this shop. It is a local business, and their prices are very competitive against those of the larger retailers. After ten years in this area I know the staff, and they know us. They do nice obliging things  such as putting your electric fan together  when you have failed to attach the pieces in the privacy of your very own home. They deliver without charge when you buy a heavy new heater, and then come back and replace the globe which gives you pretend flames.  And when it came to the purchase of the new refrigerator and dishwater, we got a very good deal. And a couple of weeks ago I had to replace the blender (necessary item for pureeing the pea and ham soup Dr P enjoys so much.) It chewed up the rubber seal, which had not been put properly into position. Then soup spilled into the bowels of the machine itself. Not a good thing to happen. They are a good place to shop and we have been good customers, although now that so many of the genuine antique electrical appliances which graced our homes for so many years have been replaced, our custom will probably peter out now.

It is a quiet-ish day. I have been to see our GP to discuss Dr P's condition and associated complications, and will shortly take Dr P there for his appointment proper. I am not in a brilliant condition, having been smitten all day yesterday by a horrendous migraine, which really wiped me out and which did nothing for my levels of peace and tranquillity, etcetera.  Yesterday, when it eased, I went outside and hacked the lemon grass, which strangely enough is a very bamboo like specimen and not at all easy to chop or grate. So it has to be replaced, and I hope the new one grows quickly.

In between writing this blog, I have been poring over the photos of Spain, trying to identify them all, and looking for the ones of storks' nests to show Dr P. Good clean fun, that is, but it takes a long time.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Who could have nicer and better stepdaughters?

Practically everyone, really.

I am still sick and seething at what was revealed to me last week. Certain measures are in progress, I hope, and material has been sent to my brother-in-law, who is my solicitor, for his consideration and advice. It is all delicate stuff, as They must not know I know.

We had another ACAT assessment yesterday, and I was able to communicate some of the problems to the team. Happens all the time, they said, and not just stepchildren. They were supportive and made some helpful suggestions. It is probably a good idea to get the carer here for an additional period so I can go out and do the shopping. And with luck and good management further respite services may be available. And there is always internet grocery shopping, I suppose.

In the meantime it is Fortress Persiflage here. I am not opening the curtains of the front room (it gets too hot now that is is warmer weather), so no one can see in. I have locked the  screen door to the front, and I have the only key. The garage door is staying closed (as most garage doors do). So Vicious cannot get in unless I let her in. And I am not going out for extended periods, and thus visits in my absence are less possible. In my view it is rude to just let yourself in, and she never rings to say she is coming. Tomorrow and Thursday mornings I go to my classes while the carer is here. She has to be able to get in and out, so I cannot lock the screen door. I will have to get another key cut, so I have a spare. Apparently the other solicitor is planning to drop in to see Dr P at some stage, having been advised as to the best time.  I would like to be home for that visit. Oh yes! I do not know how much stuff they found in Dr P's files, or on my computer, but am busy making sure that things are more secure.

Oh joy, oh bliss, SD2 will visit for a few days sometime in December. And SD4 and family will visit for a couple of days around Christmas. I won't be going anywhere, except that I might be able to take Dr P with me for a visit to friendlier places. Vicious and family will be away from late December until the end of January.

I had a talk to Dr P this morning, about his finances, his care and his possible future needs, and have taken some protective action. I don't think he understood most of it, or will remember it, but I think he certainly does understand that I care for him, look after him lovingly, and have his interests at heart. Certainly he is very loving, and understands how much he needs me.

I am not sure I can outwit or counter them, but I will be doing my level best.

Friday, 5 November 2010


Through a strange combination of circumstances, specifically lack of respect for my privacy, I now have hard evidence of my stepdaughters' ill will towards me. I need legal advice, and expect to get it soon.

I have been shaking all day with tension, and feel ill,  enraged and outraged. Such malice is very hard to bear. To my mind there has been improper behaviour, and exploitation of a father's increasingly failing memory.

I attest here, that notwithstanding tensions from time to time, I have at all times acted honourably and honestly towards my husband, and I think those who really do know me would concur with this statement. And my husband keeps telling me how good, kind and honest I am towards him. And that he believes himself to be lucky to have me.

How right I have been to have guarded my privacy and my own affairs from them all, and not to have expressed my anger or disagreements at all.

SD1, who I will now refer to as Vicious, if only to vent some spleen, called this morning, as I was about to go out. I stayed home instead. After she left I discovered quite a lot of her opinions and actions. Despicable, they are.

It behoves me to watch even more vigilantly on all flanks, and to see what action I can take.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Death Notices: Vale Audrey Oldfield

From time to time, as I browse through the newspaper, I look at the Death Notices. Not because I am expecting to see names I know, as, being relatively new to this city, I don't know many people. However, as part of my fascination with language and its usage, I began to note how infrequently the occurrences were of 'Death' and 'died'. These days people pass away or pass away peacefully. Or birth and death dates are given, without any actual specifying of the death.

Yesterday as I browsed, one name stood out. The death notice was that of Audrey Oldfield. She was a scholar and researcher, a member of the Australian Society of Authors and of Womens Electoral Lobby. She wrote a book on the history of the female franchise in Australia, Woman Suffrage in Australia: a Gift or a Struggle?  published in 1992 by Cambridge University Press, as part of a series entitled Studies in Australian History.It is an excellent piece of work. I own a copy, which I pulled out to have another good browse through it.  She dedicated the work, I discovered, to her grandchildren, in these terms: "A generation which will learn that their mothers, as well as their fathers, made Australian history".

Of course, the female franchise is a fascinating subject, as are most aspects of the struggle for equal rights for women. When I consider the manifold and numerous injustices and inequities perpetrated against women, I still seethe and rage. Women in the English legal system had no legal existence, and thus the very notion of their being able to vote seemed a contradiction in terms, a great nonsense and an appalling and outrageous attempt to overturn divinely ordained and eternal prescriptions.

Oldfield gives a concise and comprehensive history of the condition of women in Britain, the USA and Australia, the development of theories about women's rights, from Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, the American feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott before moving on to the Australian colonies from the granting of self-government and then to the federation of Australia, which came into effect in 1901. Section 41 of the Australian Constitution provides that no person entitled to the vote in any of the states may be deprived of that right in federal elections. Because South Australia and Western Australia had legislated to give women the vote, women could not be deprived of their vote in elections for the Commonwealth Parliament.  The Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 established a uniform franchise for Commonwealth elections. Thus women obtained the vote, although Aboriginal natives of Australia, Asia, Africa, India (but not New Zealand) were excluded, a dreadful injustice not rectified until very many years later. Oldfield disputes the notion that Australian women were granted the vote as a gift rather than through significant and intensive arguments and campaigning - although she notes that in one way the female franchise was a gift as of course women had no power to enact it themselves.

Having done quite a lot of work on Australian electoral history and law during my working life, I feel very strongly about the fundamental importance of a fair and honest electoral system. By and large we have such a system, and we are very fortunate. Such equity has not come about by chance, and it is important that we celebrate, treasure and preserve it.

We owe gratitude and thanks to such scholars as Audrey Oldfield for her work in this area, and accordingly I pay her my small tribute.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Sorting out lives and getting things done

If only! How much easier it is to sort out life when that particular stage is well and truly over. However, it really is a matter of thinking 'If only I had done this, or that, things would have been different/better.' Whatever.

I would like to think I can manage my life better these days, now that I am somewhat older than 59a (thanks Isabelle, you youngster over yonder) but such improvements are faltering, few, and on the fringes rather than on the central issues.

As I am, perforce, having to be more active and decisive, perhaps it will be possible to convince myself that the worm has turned, that intelligent decisions will be made, and that my cringing and non-assertive aspects of personality will wither away, allowing a transformation to shine forth and bloom.

Before I went away, I issued a general directive to the dearest and the nearest. 'Sack the cleaners' I said. I was not happy with their cleaning, and they had cut corners and ignored past requests to do this, that or the other. On my return this injunction had been avoided. You might think that the powerful personality of Dr P would happily have taken action, but No. He did not feel he could do it.

So it was up to me. My stomach heaved and my heart pounded as my mind rehearsed the action: how to phrase it, what reasons to give, whether I could bring myself to do it. Surely Dr P would and could do this little thing for me, the darling of his life, his wife, lover, friend and carer? After all, said my suddenly burbling subconscious, he's  the Man, and Men are supposed to do this sort of thing. Not little, feeble, helpless women. (What a pathetic subconscious you are, I told it, to be giving in to untold centuries of conditioning like this.) My stomach still heaved away, but as the cleaners were leaving, I seized the bull by the horns, bit the bullet, put my shoulder to the wheel, to coin a phrase and put it in a nutshell, as they say in the classics, and told them that we did not want them to work for us any more, as Dr P is not well, and I had to make all sorts of arrangements.

All this made me feel bad, but also good. It has been done.

Now all I have to do is find new cleaners, get them to come for longer and on a day that suits me. The other major task is to get home based respite care organised. I began trying yesterday but there are (inevitably) other people to telephone, and I need a good amount of time to get all this done. I cannot do it while Dr P is up and around and needing attention and help. It is necessary to have peace and quiet, and to be organised in my thoughts. The bureaucracy and the policies seem very complicated, and I have to take notes, and try to remember who said what. It all makes me feel my own powers are failing, and certainly my memory is not that good any more, and we need me to do this well and effectively. Tomorrow I intend to arrange for the commercial agency which provided the carer during my trip to provide care twice a week in the interim.

Yesterday I went to one of the Italian classes, having got Dr P up, showered, dressed and fed before leaving the house. Although it was choir practice night, I decided not to go, and also did not go to the other Italian class this morning, but did go to the art history lecture. the other thing I did was to get a new head (?) for Dr P's electric razor. His shaving had become a one-sided affair, and when I looked at the shaver, discovered that there was a big hole. When I got home I had to put it all together, and clean it out, and then help with the shaving. This was a multi-skilling experience I could have done without. Friends then called around, and then the day was done. Dr P has gone for a sleep, and I am wondering whether to feed myself, or whether to just quietly starve over a glass or two of red wine.....

Maybe I will have some prosciutto and canteloupe with the wine. I decided, after eating lots of Spanish jamon that Italian prosciutto is the better product. See how travel educates and broadens the mind, not to mention the palate?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

What jet lag does to you

It makes you sleep until 10.15 am, that's what, and the very next minute the telephone rings and it is the receptionist from your physiotherapist, who wonders why you have not arrived for your 10 am appointment. Oh dear.

So here I am back home again, hanging on the the memories, and trying to sort out the jumble of places and images of the three weeks in Spain.

The return flight takes so long that arriving is a true deliverance. The last flight was foul, on an older plane, with incredibly uncomfortable seats, and nowhere to stow my stuff. And this was business class, so I hate to think of the discomforts suffered in economy class. On arrival I was hanging on to the last shreds of a capacity to cope, and it was so good to get home.

Having said that, and despite a happy reunion, reality immediately bashed me in the face.

It is almost 3 am and I was awakened by Dr P, who was rummaging around in the bathroom and looking for orange juice in his bar fridge, for about half an hour. I got him back to bed. He is asleep, but I am awake, with my mind tossing and turning, and wondering how to manage this next stage of life.

Dr P was very glad to see me, very clingy, and very needy too. Everything was evidently managed well during my absence, by the combination of my eldest stepdaughter and her son, and the 3rd stepdaughter, J2, who works in Indonesia. She and her partner took off early next morning for a 6 weeks holiday in South America, and I have seen SD1 only for several minutes when she arrived to take them to the airport, which means that there has been no opportunity for any sort of review (I almost wrote de-briefing - horrid term). The carer I had engaged to come in and help with showering and dressing, and other help as required, finished the day of my return. I gather she 'babied' him a bit, as she is used to severe cases of dementia, but it seems that she looked after him well, and saved his daughters and grandson from having to do the more intimate care. Really though, he just wants me.

My own observations, on this third night at home, is that there has been quite a deterioration in Dr P's condition. He is much more feeble, much less mobile, extremely forgetful, and his concentration is worse. Fortunately he is biddable - that sounds awful, and as though it refers to a very young child. However he has always had a very strong and forceful personality, and, to put it mildly and kindly, was never very amenable to persuasion. Now I am having to tell him what to do and what is going to happen. It does not come easily to me, but I am getting accustomed to it. And I find it so desperately sad, to see this deterioration in a person of such strength and formidable intellect and personality. It must be ghastly to have the actual experience, although in some ways he seems not to be very aware of it. Since the Aged Care Assessment was done in May, the change has become quite rapid.

I must now reactivate the Aged Care Assessment process, and try to get urgent home based respite care. We do have an entitlement, but I think this needs to be made an urgent case. If this is possible, of course. While this takes place, I will call the agency who provided the carer during my absence, to continue the care for the days when I go to my classes. That would enable me to get out of the house punctually and not to have to worry too much.

I do not think there will be much help forthcoming from my eldest step-daughter, although one can always hope. She and her family will be away for six weeks from Christmas, and we have no other support available, other than a couple of friends who might call in from time to time.

While Dr P sleeps for much of the day, and has a Panic Button to press for emergencies, there is still the worry that he might fall. He apparently had one fall while I was away. If he falls, it would be difficult for me to get him to his feet, as he is a very big and heavy man, and I am small.  This is a real worry.

All the experts say it is important to 'lead your own life', and this is certainly true. What is also true is that things will become progressively more difficult.

Time to try and get some sleep.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Almost on the way

Here I sit at Barcelona airport at a proper computer, rather than the iPod which has been my electronic connection to far far away for the last three weeks. It is a relief to be able to use more than one finger to type, and to see a whole line at a time, and to know how to correct mistakes.

As our group left the hotel dark and early this morning, I exchanged email addresses with one of the group. Now the iPod has this clever trick of guessing what you mean, so that errors can readily be fixed. Not having worked out how to reject suggestions, I had a lot of trouble enetering ´wa´which the iPod insisted meant ´way´.

Will any of the group meet each other again? It was a interesting and pleasant group, and conversation, and laughter never flagged, despite the tiredness which afflcted us, and the travelling respiratory germ. This travelled around the group, and once within a body, it hunted around for vulnerable parts. Mine is lingering a little, but I had only one rather miserable day, most of which was spent on a bus, which doubtless helped in the general transmission.

Enough of germs.

We spent our last night at a guitar recital in a gorgeous concert hall, lavishly decorated with horses plunging from the sides out towards the audience, an impressive organ, decorated frosted glass windows, and a general ornateness. We sat upstairs, on chairs, carefully arranged so that it was possible to see through the gaps. The guitarist played all the lovely Spanish guitar music, and finished with a melange or medley, selected, almost, it seemed at random, of the classical pieces, interspersed with the Beatles, the James Bond theme, Deep Purple, (I was sitting next to a relatively young member of the group who explained all the pop tunes to me) and numerous others, while the guitarist looked about him in a puzzled way as though searching through the ambient air for whatever he was really supposed to be doing. We all loved it, it was totally brilliant.

Then back to the hotel, to finish packing and to get as much sleep as possible before our early start.

Yesterday we went to the Picasso Museum. He is not an artist I am very fond of, but the early works were interesting and demonstrated his technical competence, and there was a fascinating exhibition of Picasso and Degas, comparing and contrasting their treatment of women washing, and dancing. We also saw Picasso's variations of Velazquez's Las Meninas, and these made me feel rather queasy. Seeing so many Velazquez paintings in Madrid was a wonderful experience.

Earlier we had visited Barcelona's Cathedral, which I loved, an austere Gothic building, immensely high, and with such old looking stones. There is a lovely cloister with a garden, fountain and a pond with a whole flock of geese. no one seems to know why there came to be geese kept here, but they are certainly a great attraction. They demand to be fed, with many aggressive honks and thrusting of heads towards the enarest hands.

It is time I had some food, so Adios. I hope that there will be a substantial Bienvenido on my return.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Has the microwave improved the quality of life?

Here I sit in the Barcelona hotel lounge, listening to the piano as I sit slowly typing with one finger, hoping all the while that I make fewer typing mistakes than in my last post. Five of us went out for dinner. This is always a gamble for the traveller, who can feel increasingly hapless and helpless as time goes by. Tonight two of us chose chicken, which tasted twice cooked, as well as inadequately reheated in the microwave. Whatever was done added nothing good to the quality of the food. Oh well.

We are all rather tired and almost ready to go home. This, surely, is bad. We have walked a lot and my body is protesting. I am developing blisters on my toes and my hip is sore. Too easily I get lost.

However, never let it be said that I am not having a good time. True, the weather is not wonderful. It is overcast but at least is not rainy. We spent some hours at the Museum of Catalan History. All very interesting, although cast in very general terms. Catalan is used extensively and it seems a mixture of Spanish and French, making it possible to guess quite a lot, but just as often I do not have a clue. And I wonder to what extent it benefits a nation and a people to split off from the rest of a country and, in a way, to fracture and break off from the whole. While I can sympathize with the desire to preserve ethnic origins and history, there are losses too, and the more extensive bonds and connections can be endangered and lost. Catalonia could probably survive, even prosper, as an independent nation, but I do think that wider ties, historical links, are important and should be valued. I know I speak as a citizen of a young country without severe divisions, but to me the preservation of a common history, language, literature and political ethics is immensely important.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


The end of the trip is rapidly approaching. Why does time seem to race at such an accelerated rate? It has been a busy day. We left Madrid at the crack of dawn, so it seemed, in order to catch a train from Atocha station for Barcelona. This is our last city so inevitably thoughts are beginning to turn homewards. Naturally none of us slept well last night and thus are not at our sparkling best.

Most of our time in Madrid was spent in galleries and so I have little sense of Madrid as a city, except that it is large and well laid out with wide streets and splendid parks. The streets are crowded and everyone enjoys the street night life. They all smoke much, and there seems to be more smoke than that created by the Great Fire of London. And nobody moves aside for anyone - you just have to get out of their way, while they head straight for you. How come they do not bump into each other all the time?

We had long days at the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum and El Prado, which were both amazing and fabulous places which fulfilled all my hopes and wishes. The Reina Sofia, where we saw Picasso's Guernica, was disappointing, as to my mind and tastes the art was greatly inferior to what we had seen in the previous two days.

After our early start and journey on the very fast train, which was great - and why can we not manage to build one on Australia - we were taken around Barcelona to see La Sagrada Familia, which is quite extraordinary and inspiring, and then to Guell Park, also fabulous, and then to look at various others including El Pedrero, an apartment building which apparently almost bankrupted its owners. It was amazing from the outside and from  its high and windswept rooftop, but it seemed to me to be a strange combination of Dr Who, Disney, Star Wars and other digitally created structures, and it was all in muddy ochre-ish shades. We saw the apartment, and by the time I got out I was almost writhing with distaste and unease. I hated it. By this stage, having been up since 5am, we were almost dead on our feet. Oh it is hard work being a tourist, and all those other tourists are pests and menaces, who insist on posing for their photos on the aisles of cathedrals or other places, where they get in the way of ordinary mortals.

As a major disadvantage of using an iPod to write blogs is the use of only one overly large finger, and the not knowing at any stage quite how to undo anything. So I stop asap, and crawl into my bed, rejoicing in the fact that I will not be doing any more handwashing.  Spain is wonderful, apart from the endemic smoking and the crowds, and the people are terrific. I would love to return .

Friday, 8 October 2010

Another parador in Segovia

It has been a long day from Salamanca to Segovia. Oscar, our Spanish driver, drove us for most of the day, stopping at Tordesillas, where Juana, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabel, who inherited the crown of Castil when Isabel died, lived for more than 40 years. She is supposed to have gone mad after the death of her husband, Philip the Fair, but he sounds like the sort of husband who would have driven any woman mad, well before he died. Poor Juana loved him desperately, but he screwed around something chronic, so they say. She travelled around Spain with his coffin, opening it frequently to gaze upon his corpse, for three years, and then was under virtual house arrest for the rest of her life. I´d like to know more about this unfortunate woman, but the books were all in Spanish.

Then we went to La Mota, an impregnable castle, where Cesare Borgia was imprisoned for some time before managing to bribe a guard to help him escape. He died in a minor skirmish not long after his escape. Having seen this castle, it became clear that other than by bribing someone, there was just no way out. We learned all about fearfully thick castle walls, and deep dry moats, so as to withstand cannon fire. Following that we inspected another even more impregnable castle at Coca. Learning more about the past, while keeping relatively abreast of current affairs and wars, really rams home the reality that people can be very violent indeed and seem to have relatively little reluctance or hesitation in slaughtering each other. Depressing, really!

Now we are in the parador at Segovia. this is another impressive hotel, with pool and spa, and FREE internet access without passwords. What bliss. There was an email from my daughter, which made me very happy, and I have been busy catching up with a few blogs, although regrettably do not have time to comment. The only disadvantage so far is that in this parador I do not have a double bed.
Tomorrow we see the Segovia cathedral (did I mention that I just love really old cathedrals?)  the Roman aqueduct, and something else, before setting off for Madrid, visiting El Escorial en route. Life is not all bad! It is time to duck off and change into a little something (actually the same little something as last night and the night before) in time for dinner at 8.30. Hola!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

From Salamanca

Alas, finding a computer is not an easy task. We are in  Salamanca at present but leave tomorrow for Segovia, then Madrid, and then Barcelona. We are staying in a parador, a Spanish government hotel, and this one is rather gorgeous, a large room, with a fabulous view of the old and new cathedrals and the city skyline, a luxurious bathroom with TWO washbasins, and a huge double bed.

All is well. The trip is about half over, and suddenly the days are starting to rush past. The group sets out in the morning for the day´s agenda, and then all too soon the time arrives when everything shuts for hours, and there is nothing to do except wander, get lost, or retreat to the hotel and write postcards, or perhaps make an effort to find those things which mysteriously disappear from the suitcase or the hotel room. Somehow I have managed to bring with me two hotel key cards, which fills me with guilt and embarrassment, but which must be an everyday occurrence for the hotel staff.

My Spanish is improving and I can understand a little more, order food, find toilets, and exchange elementary courtesies. My ear is getting used to the sound of it. Spain seems to be crawling with tourists of every nationality, but there are also signs of economic problems, with closed shops and lots of For Sale signs on houses. Apart from one grumpy and rude waitress, everyone has been pleasant, helpful, courteous and friendly, and so far, fortunately, we have felt very safe, apart from one attempted theft of a wallet from a back pocket.

We have travelled from Seville, Granada, Toledo, and now Salamanca, and seeing the countryside has been fascinating. It is a beautiful country, with a fascinating history. From my school days I read Spanish history and biography and have wanted to visit this country.

While I found the Moorish and Jewish sites and palaces beautiful and interesting, I am enjoying the Catholic churches far more, being much more familiar with the history, art and culture. The Moorish and Jewish architecture and decorative styles, while beautiful, are abstract, and convey no meaning to me other than aesthetic appreciation, but the Christian tradition, representational, and dynamic, is part of my history, upbringing, religious background and culture. They remain deeply significant to me. The building achievements are quite amazing. I wonder how people managed to build such high and complicated structures, and what the death and acident rate was for those working on the churches and cathedrals. Looking at the development and changes of artistic styles, and seeing how art was used to educate a largely illiterate population makes me think that much was lost when the paintings were removed, the stained glass smashed, and visual instruction replaced by the spoken word. And the written word, of course, but it is interesting how greatly in the last century with film and television people are returning to visual communications.

I have not managed to make many notes of the trip, being so tired by the end of the day that coherent thought and analysis are beyond me. We are all taking heaps of photographs, and I just hope that when I manage to get them on to my computer, I can remember what they all are.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

These feet are made for walking

Here I am in Spain, and having an excellent time, seeing places I have read about and studied for years. Already we have been thrrough a general strike into our hotel ,no less, and trying to follow the news in Spanish, and not succeeding very well.
The flight was exhausting, and we had a tedious wait in Barcelona. Computer and internet access has not been possible until today and emails to family naturally take precedence, but now that I have found out how to find the @ key, and worked out the foreign keyboard, as well as coping with all the funny Microsoft idiosyncracies, Once I get some more free time, I may yet get to write a post. As there are only three minutes left, and the dinner hour is upon me, so will save all my interesting and insightful comments until the next opportunity.
I am having a really good time.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Between flights

All went well. I finished the packing, the organising, made my loving farewell, caught a taxi, which arrived punctually, and got through customs etc, with great ease.

I met my friend, and although we were not able to change our seats, we were close enough together to drop in and have extended conversations. It was lovely having company. We discovered quite accidentally that we were travelling on the same day with the same airline on the same flight for the first leg to Singapore.

Now we are in the lounge at Singapore Airport, and I have had a shower, which makes me feel much better. As I did not get to bed until well after 2 am last night, and then could not get to sleep, I am very tired. This morning I revised my packing yet again and turfed out a few things, expecting the customary bag of toiletries would be bestowed on me by the airline. But no. Fortunately they were available in this lounge.

The day was quite a misty one, all the way across Australia. As we flew over the Darling River area, we could see the vast floods making their way down the country from Queensland, forming large lakes as far as the eye could see. As we crossed into South Australia we watched for Lake Eyre, which I had hoped to see on a weekend trip which never eventuated.  Seeing the floods from so far up in a sky gave us an extensive view, and I took photos, but of course they are not brilliant. Nothing like thick airport windows to detract from the quality of a photo, but at least I have a reminder of this rare event of the rivers flooding and slowly making their way down the country. It was so exciting.

Coming into Singapore by night was lovely, with all the boats, and lights, and the full moon reflected on the water.

There are another couple of hours to kill, which we are whiling away on the computers, before taking our next, separate flights.

I am on my way - after all these months of planning, hoping and wondering. Whoopee.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Tomorrow and to Spain

A very scatty post as I prepare for departure tomorrow on this long awaited trip to Spain:

Preparing for a trip has never been so exhausting, and I cannot believe how much there is to do. One thing leads to another, and unexpected occurrences swallowed up huge chunks of time. It is almost midnight, and I am still working on my itinerary documents, and sorting out what to take as hand luggage. I asked my friends Nora and John how much luggage they take and they said one bag between them. I cannot rival that!  But I was impelled to be rather more ruthless, and have put away quite a few things. Although we are warned we might need a raincoat, mine is staying at home, and ditto the umbrella. I am sure that if it should rain, hundreds of African pedlars will sprout from the soil just to sell umbrellas.

Being an information junkie I need a dictionary, a guide book, and some reading. It is a very long journey, via Singapore, Malpensa, Barcelona and finally Seville, where the tour commences. The material supplied by the travel company weighs a kilogram, and what a pity it is that they did not arrange for it to be given to us all on arrival, instead of making us all lug it ourselves. There has not been time to have more than the most cursory glance at this brick. Selecting books has been difficult, as the ideal book needs to be absorbing, entertaining, and something that need not be taken back home. A very contradictory set of criteria.

The carer I engaged to come in each day to help Dr P came today and we went through the routine and she will be back again tomorrow to go through it all again. She seems a good and nice person, and competent. The grandson won't arrive until Saturday, but I cooked a lamb curry tonight and there is enough left for Dr P's dinner tomorrow night.  After that they are on their own. All his medications are now in blister packs, the refrigerator has been cleaned, all the bed linen washed and clean sheets put on all beds, and  a huge amount of tidying and labelling of things has been done (why did I use the passive tense here? I did it all, item by item.) We had a pleasant day together.

There are a couple more things to do on the computer and then I can stagger off to bed. This new computer has a wireless keyboard, which is tiny and you can delete only from backwards and not forwards. It would save a lot of time if I just left in all my typos, many of which occur because the keyboard is so small. I keep hitting the g and the f keys! The old computer, which had its logic board replaced a month ago, suddenly went PHUT again the other day, so it has gone away to be fixed yet again - fortunately this time under warranty.

Tomorrow I can allow myself to feel excited!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Things to do before having time off for good behaviour

Today I took Dr P to see his diabetes specialist, who has been treating him for years. Dr P has type 2 diabetes. It is well controlled, just as well, as he has the most shocking and self-indulgent diet. As the grandmother of a  boy with type 1 diabetes, whose illness began when he was about 20 months old, I find his casual disregard of diet appalling. However I suppose it must be acknowledged that a man who has reached the age of 86 must have a very strong constitution, no matter what he does to abuse it. The pleasures of self indulgence and immediate gratification greatly outweigh the experience of self denial, as I know only too well from similar failures of will and self-discipline. Who am I to criticise?

For the last few years I have been going to all Dr P's medical appointments, in order to know what is going on, and to add to the information. (Dr P is rather inclined to gloss over certain things. As you do.)  Dr P was not very happy about this, but accepts it now. This appointment was sad - Dr P asked the same question about six times, forgetting each time that he had already done so, and his increased forgetfulness and decline were very evident to the specialist.

Yesterday was a very messy day, physically, and not pleasant. We had been invited to lunch with friends, but Dr P did not feel up to it, and went to bed. I was intending to go to lunch after finishing all the cleaning up and washing, when SD1 arrived. I never did get to the lunch. We wound up having a discussion about the care arrangements for Dr P while I am on holidays. This was both a Good Thing and a Rare Event. It is a relief to have achieved some actual communication. It transpired that SD3 won't arrive until the end of the month - this information had not come through to me, somehow, and so the care will be undertaken by SD1,  her 21 year old son, and SD3. SD1 did not feel she could put her son through the ordeal of dealing with Dr P's ablutions and dressing - too confronting, she feels. I do sympathise - but yet! So we discussed low level respite care accommodation and she arranged for us to go and visit a place with a vacancy. Dr P had been talking about some such sort of care, so it was worth investigating.

So we all went together today, after seeing the specialist. It was depressing, and none of us felt that it would suit his needs and comfort. We agreed that we would investigate paid, home based care, and I have made inquiries, which I hope will bear fruit, to have a carer come in each morning to do ablutions, dressing breakfast, washing and a light tidying and cleaning. I will also try to reactivate the home based respite care, which I had hoped to have had organised weeks ago, but which Dr P then strenuously opposed. We have probably fallen to the end of the queue again, but such things are sent to try us. It is quite stressful trying to work out what best to do, and when I made the earlier attempts, Dr P's condition was much better than it is now. There has been a significant deterioration.

Apropos of the confronting aspects of caring for people, I remembered that at the age of 15 I had kept house for the whole family while my mother was in hospital having her seventh child, my youngest sister. My older sister had started her nursing training, and was living at the nurses' home. When the baby was six months old she developed a blockage of the bowel, which required emergency and life-saving surgery. She has a colostomy for a year, and I helped my mother with the cleaning and dressing. Colostomy bags had apparently not yet been invented, and the dressings had to be changed frequently. The baby had suffered an infection in the hospital which had left raw flesh, which had to be kept clean.  We never managed to get it to heal completely. Cleaning was very painful, but it had to be done - too bad if it was confronting! My sister has a very sunny, optimistic and happy nature, even with that start in life.

There is much to be done before I leave, and I should probably not fritter away time with all this idle persiflage. But hey! Whatever!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The week that was

Well, actually it was quite exhausting. Challenging, anxious, and exciting, with sadness, but with gladness and hope. Good decisions have been made.

Last Friday I drove to Canberra to help my son.  All went well, despite very wet weather and a couple of dark and stormy nights. In fact just about everywhere in southern New South Wales and Victoria had lots of rain and there are now many flooded areas, giving emergency services workers lots to do, filling up sandbags,  rescuing people, etcetera. Wonderful people, they are.

My son moved into his new house, and into a new life. My daughter and I helped care for the little boys, and with the organising, and the making of lists - things to buy such as toilet paper, a bucket, broom, dustpan and brush, cleaning things and groceries. I donated some surplus items from my kitchen and linen cupboards. This had meant going through all the kitchen cupboards and the linen cupboard, and cleaning and sorting everything- the sort of hideous housework which is (wisely) embarked on only every few years. My car was full of stuff.

While I was looking after the little boys on my own, the little one, aged two and a half,  darted to the TV, which was playing a DVD of Shrek, and pressed some button or other. I was totally unable to fix it. Now, I suppose it is understandable that a two year old child would want to turn off Shrek, as it seems that all children have watched it at least 149 times, but at this stage there was nothing else to do - there were no toys or books, or effective forms of outside entertainment. So I got a bit stressed, as telling stories, drawing pictures and singing songs had no effect whatsoever, and all they wanted to do was to run up and down throughout the house opening and shutting doors. This made me feel I was failing Elementary Grandmothering....In the Olden Days, my children were not allowed to touch switches or press buttons on TVs or anything electrical, but evidently times have changed, and so has the speed of the greased lightning at which they move.

Ah well, their father returned in due course, and of course he knew how to put Shrek back on. The rest of the time I spent with my daughter, who has been doing a lot to help her brother, especially child caring. We went to the horse paddock to feed her horse,  and to the shops to buy a few spare clothes, and sundry other useful things such as rubber duckies for the bath, which squeak gratifyingly, and hobby horses to ride around on.

My youngest grandson just LOVES being outside, running around, playing with water and splashing around in muddy puddles. Although he was shy with me at first, by the end of my visit he was playing Chasey, and Boo, and has been enjoying all the contact with his aunt and cousins.

Just before I left on Friday there was a general power failure, and this delayed my departure somewhat. When the power came back on, I ran around resetting clocks and microwaves, and also turned the computers on. However I did not wait to check whether all was well. The family rang to ask how to get it all back on. I HATE other people touching my computer, especially if they are not real family. I came home to find it still did not work, and had visions of lengthy phone conversations with the support people. Somehow the computer had switched itself off. They are not supposed to do this, are they?

However. Last week, without really having a clue what I was doing, I used the Migration Assistant to transfer things from the old to the new computer. It told me I had done this, but there was no obvious difference. Evidently full implementation depended on turning everything off and on again, which is what I did when I could not get the computers to start. The other slight problem was caused by my new-fangled wireless keyboard, which had gone off as a result of the power failure, and needed its drippy owner to realise it has an on and on switch. (The design is so elegant and discreet that said switch was hard to find.) Finally all worked, and lo and behold, there was all my old stuff on my new computer.  But what had happened to all the new programmes which came with the new computer. Good grief, don't tell me I had mindlessly obliterated them all? Finally I worked it all out. Sort of. Well, actually there are a few minor details yet to be revealed, but maybe they can wait until I get back from Spain and start having serious computer lessons. I have had to go out and buy a new printer. It does not have the printer driver inserted into its position, and now I have to work out from the rather confusing diagrams where exactly it goes.

Life is full of challenges. I suppose if they concern only technical problems we are fortunate. There is generally an answer, if we know how to look and who to ask. Changing the pattern of our lives is much more complicated and fraught, and can involve great anguish and worry in knowing the problems and in finding the solutions. We do what we can to help, we offer our love and support, and our hope for the best possible resolution and rebuilding. I am caught between my concern for those I love, both near and far.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Lurching on

Although I fear we are headed for an conservative Abbott government, and am trying not to care, tonight's news that Independent Andrew Wilkie is supporting the ALP has revived some failing and faltering hopes.

It is amazing how you can fall into casual yet impassioned conversations about politics with total strangers. Yesterday at the bus stop in the city a woman sank onto the bench beside me and complained loudly and eloquently about her exhaustion resulting from the delay in knowing what make of government we are about to have. So I gave her the benefit of my views and she cheered up somewhat, notwithstanding missing her bus, which she had failed to hail as I expounded my views. Naturally it shot right past her. Talk about transfixing an audience. I am tempted to rent a soapbox. Oh well, an electronic one will have to do for now.

It is depressing how few people have any idea of the work done by politicians and the Parliament. Yes, they actually pass laws, generally designed to benefit the nation - although sometimes they mistake the nature of the benefits. And yes, most of the laws are complex and very technical, and would make the average eyes glaze over. But it is not all personal abuse and name-calling, as in Question Time.

For those who cannot follow all the complexities of the average taxation or superannuation laws, those affecting the health system, Commonwealth State relations, and economic management, let alone climate change science and emissions trading schemes, it is necessary to adopt a form of shorthand in order to make political choices. This involves looking at the different values held by all the parties and groups, and trying to decide which of these best suit our needs, values and interests, as well the the welfare of the whole nation.  Parties do try to simplify their messages, and to appeal to as many voters as possible. Inevitably political messages get diluted. But it IS possible to do some homework and to find out more about policies, legislation and programs. The Parliament's website is not a bad place to start, and there are available summaries of legislation, and much other useful information.

I get very depressed and discouraged when I overhear people grumbling about how politicians are a self-serving lot, how they are all the same, and not worth a crumpet. Some are, some are not, but in my experience of the Parliament for 30 years most of them work hard, and are dedicated and able. Some are sleazebags who give any rational person the creeps, but most are not. People think it is fine to pay business executives millions of dollars, and to give them huge termination payments (such as the couple of millions paid to the David Jones man who lost his position because he (allegedly) habitually sexually harassed female workers, and that American Sol Trujillo who ran Telstra although perhaps not according to the general welfare of the industry or the nation - what was his payout? about $10 million?) but complain that the ministers still in office continue to be paid - they are, after all, probably still attending to the business of government.

Whatever happened to that nice British saying 'Mustn't grumble'?

Well, enough of all this. I am off to Canberra tomorrow to help my son and grandchildren move house. Our family is pitching in to help. Dr P is very lethargic, and is sleeping for large parts of the day, and says he feels he will go to sleep and just not wake again. I don't think his condition is as dire as this. I hope not, anyway.  V, the SD1, and/or her son B1 will be taking care of him. As usual, I am totally frustrated by their incredible failures in communication, and I hope they do not get up to anything in my absence. And that all goes well with my trip, and that I will be able to indulge in some motherly and grandmotherly care and devotion.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Reflections on the election: before and after thoughts

As political junkies from way back, we always watch the election results all night. It was a sober and anxious night for us. I must state at the start that had I been Kevin Rudd, I would not have announced the indefinite deferral of the emissions trading scheme, and had I been Julia Gillard I would not have had an immediate election. Politicians ought to know by now that although journalists may greet you with an initial acclaim and wave of enthusiasm, they only do so in order a) to titillate the nation and B) to soften you up so that they can roast you slowly and then carve you up into mincemeat.

Kevin ought to have pointed out repeatedly that the reason for the failure of the ETS was that the Opposition, Greens and that moron Fielding in the Senate had defeated it twice, and reiterated that they would try again as soon as an opportune moment arrived. People tell me it was not a very good scheme, and a tax would have been better, but I found it all very complicated, and (possibly in common with many others) I lack the expertise to evaluate the rival proposals.

As for the tax on the super profits of the mining industry, the howls of protest were highly predictable. The mining industry has a lot of power and influence, and can bring great pressure to bear on governments. Which they did, but it does not mean that they ought to be successful. These are national and not renewable resources, we are talking about. What is more, you cannot tell me that the mining industries could not afford to pay more tax. That magnate who crashed his plane and killed himself along with all those on the plane had a personal fortune of almost one billion dollars. He was also facing corruption charges in Queensland. I don’t feel too sorry for him and his ilk. However, any new tax needs to be carefully planned and considered.

And Julia Gillard should have ignored those so-called pundits who raved on about her not being elected by the people, and told us all that the government needed time to settle in and to rethink this, that and the other before the election – which after all did not have to be held early, as it was not due until 2011. Journalists ought not to be allowed to run the country or to make such decisions – THEY are NOT elected.

I did not notice anyone referring to the fact that there was no call for an early election when John Gorton was knocked off as Prime Minister in March 1971 by his party in favour of that superhero Billy McMahon, who was Prime Minister until defeated by the ALP in December 1972. Nor was there any such clamour when Paul Keating successfully challenged Bob Hawke for the leadership in 1991. The election was heId in 1993 and won by the ALP. In the latter days of the Howard government, during which there was constant speculation that Peter Costello might be about to challenge, I do not recollect any suggestion that should he do so successfully, he would be in duty bound to call an early election. I don’t remember any such confected and idiotic outrage by the press then, although in those days there was far more attention paid and analysis given to policy and legislation. For some reason this campaign was characterised on the one hand by a stupid and trivialising focus on the wearing of budgie smugglers, the 36 hours without sleep, the cycling, running and swimming, and on the other by an obsession with hairstyles, frequency of blow-drying, high heels, clothing, special interviews in the AWW, marital status and childlessness. None of the above really have anything to do with intelligence or capacity to run the country, nor about the important choices facing voters.

However, as, unfortunately, I am not in control of world, let alone national events, events rolled on inexorably. More to the pity.

In addition to all the focus on trivialities, the campaign was negative and in many respects, based on fear. Now I am as scared of WorkChoices as any rational human being, having long recognised that a single individual in an ordinary job has little bargaining power, and that is why trade unions were formed, to give some collective protection to workers.

And as for boat people, that is a genuinely difficult issue, to which there is no simple answer, and I swing in my views, from pity for those who flee war, or persecution, to worry about how and to whom priority should be given, and concern about the difficulties in determining the veracity of claims, and to concern about the level of immigration in recent years and whether such a level should be sustained or decreased. There are so many matters to consider, such as housing, infrastructure, jobs, and the water supply. Then there are the social issues, such as religion, the capacity of the nation to absorb and assimilate those from a different culture, or from a religion which does not give equality to women, both theoretically or in practice.  I believe we are right to be wary of it, and should have policies designed to educate and assimilate, and we should loudly proclaim that we are a nation with a secular and democratic constitution in which all people, citizens and non-citizens, have equal rights which cannot be denied on account of religion or cultural belief. Our processes need to be scrupulously fair and open, and there should be safeguards against fraud and abuse.

There are better ways of resolving such problems than resorting to tactics involving fear and loathing, and it is an enormous pity that considerations of party advantages have outweighed rational and compassionate ideas and policies. There seemed to be little attempt to appeal to people’s better instincts, and to the consideration of the general well-being rather than narrow self-interest. We cannot cast the blame on others: we must acknowledge our own failures.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

If only I had a mass audience...

In these parlous times we are threatened by practically everything, not the least of which is the prospect of Tony Abbott governing the country. If I had access to a mass audience I could disseminate the following opinions, and force them down the throats of my fellow citizens - just like all the shock jocks do, but with considerably less damage to the polity and with far greater advantages to all those qualities of fairness, compassion and democracy which we claim are our national characteristics.

To those who criticised the Rudd Government about its failures in the administration of the home insulation scheme, I ask why there has been no public outcry about of those who ripped off the system, the nation, the taxpayers. They were the ones who caused the deaths, by their use of unqualified and untrained workers. They ignored industrial health and safety laws, and avoided their duty of care to their workers. Why do the newspapers, television and the right wing commentariat not expose and denounce these people who ripped off and fleeced the nation, thus undermining a very good policy and programme, which must have saved vast numbers of people quite a lot of money on their power bills, enabled them to live in more comfort, and been good for the environment? They should be prosecuted for their failures, their frauds and for their criminal negligence.

And yes, yes, I know that the scheme should have been better administered and supervised, but is it not startling, in this blessed land of ours, that so many were prepared to rort the system and rip off the taxpayer? Presumably the scheme gave jobs to many of those who might otherwise have been out of work because of the GFC. Why do journalists not identify, denounce and denigrate the rorters?

And as for the Schools Building programme, yes, again it should have been better administered. But just imagine the outcry which would have arisen if all the school principals had been required to undertake and manage the contracts, the costing and to supervise the actual construction, irrespective of what they might or might not have known or understood about such matters. In addition to their normal workloads. Who are all these rip off merchants? They should be prosecuted for fraud. A pox on their houses!

But Oh No,  it is much more fun to denounce government, and to do the utmost to undermine the efficacy and standing of democratic systems and processes. Enormous scope is given to whingers,  doom-sayers and spiteful, malicious journalists who concentrate on trivialities rather than undertake any serious policy analysis. Avaunt, say I.

There are some miserable sods out there who advocate submitting blank ballot papers, as though it were a gross outrage and imposition to be required to participate in an election, and to have a say in deciding who governs the country. Shame, I say. If it is so bad here, go and emigrate to a dictatorship and try that for size. Just don't go whinging anywhere near me. Try counting blessings instead. Or pray to be saved from the political equivalent of a fate worse than death.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


With a mixture of caution and elation, I announce, that if all goes according to plan and no disasters occur, I will actually go on a group trip to Spain. The money has been paid, and the travel insurance taken out. Today I went to the first of three intensive Spanish classes.

Several years ago I went to a series of Spanish classes, but stopped when there was no class at my level available at a convenient time. Naturally I have forgotten most of what I had learned. We never did advance beyond the present tense, although we seemed to spend a lot of time on irregular and orthographically changing verbs, as well as the usage of the two forms of the verb to be. I hope that in the next few weeks I can learn quite a lot more. Italian is a great help and it is possible to guess with more than a sporting chance of being right.

There are nine of us in the class, and guess who was the oldest? We are a mixed lot, and two of the women are mother and daughter, intending to travel together in a few weeks. There is a girl with a Columbian boyfriend, and another young couple - he a naturalised American and she Australian, both very keen on Mexico. Another young man turned up late, wearing short shorts and T-shirt. It was a very cold day, and in the morning we had no heating, so we all froze.

To me learning a language is endlessly interesting, and we students, in both my Italian classes, frequently discuss word derivations, usage, and history. What struck me today was how little grammar was understood by many of the students. Concepts such as the conjugation of verbs, classes of verbs, irregular verbs, parts of speech, nouns, prepositions, the use of gender cases in nouns and adjectives, the concept of the infinitive form of the verb, and the definite and indefinite articles were evidently unknown or unfamiliar to many. It makes me wonder just how our language is being taught. Is this why we hear so frequently things like 'Me and him went to the football game'  or 'Joe gave it to her and I'? Or is it yet another aspect of American usage being adopted here? I noticed such usage in Anne Tyler's books, and in a relatively new Australian novel - not as part of the dialogue, but as part of the narrative.

Discovering the different ways in which another language is used is a challenge. Not saying, for example, 'I like dancing', but instead 'dancing is pleasing to me'. I always have to think this construction through and as often as not I get it wrong, even after all these years. Most of us still struggle with the use of the subjunctive tenses. May it come more easily in the future.  The teacher, Ana, is necessarily doing a lot of grammar. The teacher in my previous classes used what was termed the immersion method, to make the students come to grips with the language straight away, but also partly because so few people had a knowledge of grammar. You were expected to plunge in, to speak and write. That method has many advantages, but I needed more verbs, and more than the present tense.

I rang to enquire about the old computer. Obviously it had not yet been given any attention. They phoned the next day to say the logic board had gone bung. Whatever that means, but it sounded ominous. I decided to get it fixed, at what seems hideous expense, as I simply cannot face even trying the cheaper and simpler solutions.

As I typed away yesterday, I suddenly noticed that the T key was not working. The top of the key has come loose. Amazing - it is only a month old. More dealing with computer support people! Of course it is under warranty, and I expect it will be replaced. Nevertheless I feel aggrieved.  I have switched over to the old one.

All of this reminds me that this week there were two obituaries in the Sydney Morning Herald which could have done with better proof-reading - ie by a person rather than by a spell-checker. One referred to someone as saying something 'self-deferentially' instead of 'self-deprecatingly' and the other, about a man who escaped from Nazi Germany a said he was 'interred' in May 1940, firstly at a racecourse and then on the Isle of Man, before being sent to Australia on the Dunera. Once the ship had arrived in Australia, its passengers were  interned.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Not quite as planned

You never know what the day will bring.

It was a wild night. The wind howled and it felt as though the roof would lift off. It was horrid and scary. There was much damage around the city. Perhaps it was a portent.

My moods, temper, disposition, attitude and decision-making capacity have been fluctuating wildly for the last week. The causes are various. Blame can be distributed variously between myself, Dr P (always a good target), the body politic, the weather, too much or too little sleep, the sore hip or the ambient air. Who knows? Maybe it is fluctuating hormone levels.

Tonight I should have been writing my Italian argomento for tomorrow's class. But it was one of those occasions where I was unable to seize the moment of inspiration, to write down the words, the thoughts, the sequences as they bubbled forth. By the time I was free this evening, the bubbles had all burst.

This morning I went to a dress rehearsal of Bellini's opera, La Sonnambula.  My kind friends who helped with the computer gave me their two tickets, as they are in Queensland this week. I asked another friend if she'd like to go with me, and she said yes. Yesterday when I rang her to arrange the time we should set out together, it transpired that she had failed to note the event in her diary, and had arranged to play bridge instead. This vexed me a little because ours was a prior arrangement. It left too little time to dispose of the spare ticket.

All I could think of was to offer the ticket to someone at the Opera House.  The Opera House shop seemed a good place to start. The first woman I approached accepted the ticket. She was amazed and delighted, especially as it was free. She was a Canadian tourist, here for an education conference, but doing the tourist thing today. The performance was excellent, the singing wonderful and the music gorgeous, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterwards, we parted company. We will never see each other again, but for those few hours we were a part of each other's lives. It felt good.

On the bus trip home my thoughts bubbled, and I wished I had thought to bring pen and paper. Never mind, I thought, once I get home I will be able to write. But no. Dr P and domestic harmony considerations delayed the creative surge yet again. Friends rang to let me know of the sudden death of a friend - a former colleague. In one of those strange coincidences, I had been thinking about her this week.

By the time I was free, the flow had congealed and I was too tired. I needed my old computer, with the on line Italian dictionary. The computer man has not yet been in contact. Time to hassle him, evidently. I do not yet know how to select Italian as the language in which to write. The Help and the new Text Book were unclear. I retreated from the computer, and sat down with pen and paper. But it was no good!  Unfinished and badly expressed ungrammatical sentences littered the page. Best not even looked at.

Tomorrow looms ominously.

Apart from having lost all that usable time and creativity, why is it that it takes twice or three times as long as anticipated to get anything done?