Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Frittering time away

It is a solitary time, and that is how it will be, for the rest of my life. It probably matters little where I choose to be. One does not realise what it is going to be like, before the inescapable fact and situation are upon one. Even when I enjoyed solitude and uninterrupted time, there was always a time frame attached to it, and once that time had elapsed, normal life resumed.

No more.

The sense of being alone is ever present. In some ways I have become accustomed to it, and would probably find it extremely difficult to adapt to life with another person. It does not mean that this solitariness, this aloneness, this isolation from others, is a desirable state.

I wander around, and that sense of being alone is always with me. My companion, as it were. Instead of the living, breathing, brilliant, funny, perplexing, irritating, interesting, challenging, provocative, argumentative, loving and loved person. Once breath has gone, once life has gone, so too do the other qualities fade, except in memory. Memory persists, but it too fades. I am reminded suddenly of Dali's painting The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory.

Being occupied and being organised helps, and fills the days, and I am getting more done. For some people, and evidently I am one of them, accepting the changes in life and doing those things necessary, is essential.  I wonder whether others realise this, or whether they simply think I am being compulsive.

I do the re-organising bit by bit. My wardrobes are full of clothes not worn for years, as I was too fat to get into them, or the fashions have changed so that they (and I) look peculiar. Now I am pulling them out of the wardrobes, and wondering whether to get new elastic put into the waistbands, or whether to make yet another trip to Vinnies. I examine the contents of the kitchen cupboards, and discard this, and then that. I know it is a continuous attempt to take control of my life. But who can ever achieve that?

I want to see people, and yet, a little is enough, or too much. Then I need to escape to my solitude, and brood a while. In fact, the brooding is like the musical ground bass, repetitive, but harmonious and endlessly fascinating because of the way it is intertwined with the melody, and the progression of time, and life. I cannot halt it. Maybe in time it will evaporate.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Out of character

I am back home from a few days in Canberra. I saw friends, children and grandchildren, and watched the kids' soccer matches. It was very very cold and many layers of clothing were essentiaI. My grandson's team has improved a lot, and he managed to get quite a lot of kicks, but apparently keeps hovering near the goal in the  hope and expectation that the ball might miraculously come to him and he can shoot a goal. Apparently you are not supposed to hover around the goal area....

The younger team still has a lot to learn. My granddaughter has trouble remembering to run in the direction of the ball, and, when she does run, she interrupts the run periodically to give a graceful ballet sort of leap! Actually, the leaps are rather Bambi -like.

I have laboured in the field, or, rather, in the houses, and wrought some order out of - how to put it kindly? No, don't think I can. Anyway I have been a labour saving person, and managed to get the older boy involved in helping me. We had fun.

My friend KP was a most kind host. We went out to dinner the first night, and he invited friends over on another night. It was good to see everyone.

In a fit of heroic self-restraint, I did not buy any books at my favourite bookshops. (OK, so one of them was not open when I was in the vicinity.) Continuing my efforts to lead a virtuous life, I am proceeding to read a book which has been sitting around for over a year, somehow emitting a faintly dispirited air, and emitting pleading yelps, to just get on with it, and read it - right to the end, please. It is Frank Delaney's novel Ireland, and it is a great read, especially if you are interested in Ireland. I am, in a general sense, and am trying to improve on this by reading books by Tim Pat Coogan, whose A Memoir I have recently finished. I am actually rather put out to discover how few of his books are available in the bookshops here. It is only right to create a mini-demand.

There are plenty of things to do.

I drove back home this morning, detouring briefly to Berrima, or, as the signs say, Historic Berrima, where there is a lovely shop selling alpaca products. I whipped in and out of the shop in a mere 15 minutes and am now wearing a rather gorgeous purple alpaca tunic style garment.  This results from following the policy of giving oneself little (or big) treats.

Tonight I went with a friend to see a musical Jersey Boys, all about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Now, no one would describe me as being keen on pop music, although I found that much of the music was familiar. It was terrific, with an excellent cast of singers, actors and musicians. My only complaint was that it was extremely loud, and I do not understand why a deafening level is considered essential. There will be hosts and hosts of people suffering from deafness at a rather young age. Then they will be sorry!

Still, I must not allow myself to be curmudgeonly. It was a very enjoyable night, and I am delighted that my friend talked me into going with her.

Tomorrow normal life will be resumed and I will be going to the Apple Shop to learn how to be a more effective user of my computer. Should be good.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Nothing much

This has not been a good week, and the miseries have swamped me. The loins need to be girded and the teeth gritted. The jaw must be clenched, the shoulder must be put to the wheel, and the best foot put forward. I must push bravely onwards. Just like Christian soldiers, marching off to war. Tra la.

Cliches work to a rather limited extent. This is a pity, as they are so plentiful. They spring so readily to mind. Talk is easy.

I have been waiting for a phone call and it has not happened, and I am trying not to be a pest. Although I can see quite clearly the advantages of being a pest.

The remote controls for the garage door arrived, but I cannot activate them.

This is because I cannot understand the instructions, reach the control box, or see how to open it. (Let alone know what to do next.) My ladder is not high enough. The result was to make me feel quite useless.

Being a total sook does nothing to solve the problem. I comfort myself by realising that if Dr P were still alive, he could not fix it either, and would resolve the matter by getting his tall grandson to do it, or by paying someone.

As the first is not an option, perforce I must pay someone to do it and this is to be done next Wednesday. Having organised this, I have cheered up slightly. I have resolved to watch carefully and learn how to do it myself, just in case. Being useless, or relatively so, is not a good condition to be in. It might be necessary to buy a longer ladder. It has occurred to me that while the man is here he can change the light globe for me.

This afternoon I had my flu injection. I am not sure why I do this, as I have only had influenza about once in my entire life, but it keeps bread in the mouths of the doctors. I discovered that I am at very low risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and am generally in good health, albeit stressed. Perhaps I will meet my end by falling off a ladder, and slowly dying, because no one would know about the accident, and nor could they get inside this grim little fortress. However this sounds altogether too grisly and gruesome, so I will take care of myself.

Nor has it been a totally useless week in other respects. I finally decided it was time to activate my Apple One to One membership. I could not find the subscription, so called in to the Apple shop in the city, to see whether they could show me what it looked like, so that I could search the house yet again. Wonderful people, so patient and kind: they found my receipt, gave me a new card and activated it for me, and I am to have my first lesson next week. It is time to start learning again.

I am going to Canberra for the weekend, to immerse myself in family life. Children, grandchildren, friends, a soccer game, and some social activity.

On Sunday I took myself to a film of the Covent Garden production, by Jonathan Miller, of Così Fan Tutte.  For some reason, I was charged the price of a child's ticket - an arbitrary but kind decision, as obviously I do not at all resemble a child under 15 years of age. The film lasted four and a half hours, with an interval. It was wonderful. Normally I do not like operas being transposed into modern times, but this time it worked, because the opera does not depend on any historical setting, but rather on emotions and human nature. Instead of wearing lockets containing portraits of the lovers, they all used iPhones, and this was very funny. Fabulous singing and acting.

As I waited to exit from the car park, the driver of a parked car, naturally a 4 Wheel Drive, backed out of his space without looking, causing the car in front of me to reverse to avoid being hit, and that car then hit mine. Not my fault, not her fault. Fortunately, it was the veriest, teensiest scrape, and I won't bother doing anything about it. But that bastard SUV driver, who was totally to blame, just drove off into the looming dusk. How unfair is that!

It is a truism, but Life Is Like That! Worse luck.


Saturday, 11 June 2011

The cold

Snow has been falling, the mountain slopes are laden with the stuff, ski resorts are cheering, but back in the cities it has been very cold. Even in Sydney, which generally is far far far too hot.

Yes, I know, when you have nothing else to say, talk about the weather. It is, after all, an endlessly fascinating topic.

 My fingers are cold, I use a hot water bottle at night, and the second mohair throw is on the bed. My house - sorry, when I say my house, I am referring to the abode from which the blood rellies of my deceased husband are eagerly wanting to evict me, is relatively short of doors between rooms, and thus is difficult both to cool and to heat. Accordingly the power bills are somewhat alarming, even though my hands are still cold. Meanwhile I sport the layered look.

At the produce market this morning I lingered over a stall selling Peruvian alpaca products. And yes, I was tempted, and I fell.  Once I started looking at various products, all of a sudden other people stopped and looked too. My serious looking had created more interest. It is often the way that if one person is interested,  the interest becomes contagious. One serious customer occupying the attention of the stall owner makes it safer for others to investigate without creating an expectation that they will or should buy.

Alpaca is such a beautiful fibre. It makes wool seem so very ordinary and inferior, and also makes me want to acquire vast quantities of it, and to crochet yet another shawl. All this intense desire to create things evidently springs from a need to have some control over my life.Years ago I crocheted a large and complicated alpaca shawl, in 5 ply black, and wore it to some function. When I went to retrieve the shawl, it had vanished, and in its place was a crappy synthetic mass produced shawl. Somehow this did not seem like an innocent mistake. I went back to the shop to buy some more black alpaca, but there was none. A colleague, fortunately, had the same yarn in a very dark brown, so we arranged a swap of some kind, and I made another shawl. But it is not the same. It cannot be worn with real black. I still feel bad about that loss.

And I wish I could crochet faster.

Thinking of heating the house reminds me that I had another call from someone, another person with a heavy Asian accent that was most difficult to understand, apparently peddling something to do with solar heating. Let it not be said I am against solar heating, but I have yet to ascertain what the call was all about, as this caller too wanted to speak to the owner of the house, and once again hung up on me. Clunk!

How does it come about that these callers are so badly instructed in telephone techniques? According to a fairly recent supplement in the Careers section of the newspaper, call centres are big business, and provide excellent careers for at least some of their employees. It is quite evident that the callers are obliged to follow a set script.

In the days when I had occasion to telephone people for information (or whatever) our standard practice was:

Good morning/afternoon. My name is Persiflage, and I work for the Department of Really Amateur Blogging (RAB). I need to find some information about (here insert own sort of twaddle). Can you help me with this enquiry, or direct me to the relevant area? Thank you.

Listen attentively to response, ask for alternative sources of information if necessary, thank person on telephone, leave contact details, and then end call.

Doesn't sound too hard, does it? So why does no one do it? Let alone listen carefully?

I have been (perforce) spending quite a lot of time on the telephone recently. Yesterday I had to re-subscribe to the newspaper. A letter arrived saying that the usual direct debit on the credit card had failed, and could Dr P kindly supply the details. So after exercising the vocal cords by uttering a few choice words, I telephoned the subscription number, and after a mere ten minutes managed to be connected to a person, who (miraculously, thank you, putative god) dealt with me courteously and efficiently. Of course, you may well ask why, in view of the fact that I had communicated my desire to have this subscription transferred to me, the executors could not have handled it somewhat better?

Things are falling apart. (A sympathy strike, perhaps?)

My oven is not working properly, but I will neither repair nor replace it until/unless things are sorted out. The lovely George at my local Retravision, is investigating plug in and sit on bench alternatives for me. Otherwise it won't be possible to have any roast pork or lamb. Or to heat my quiche, or spinach and fetta triangle.

The remote control for the garage is broken. I have ordered a replacement, by telephone, from the courteous and efficient Kate, who does indeed know to to conduct business by telephone.

One of the halogen globes is no longer working. The ceiling is too high, and the ladder too short for me to change it. The electrician will have to be called to change it for me. Perhaps it would be best to wait until more than one globe needs replacing. Economies of scale, etcetera.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Will it never end?

No, it all goes on and on, and thus so does the turmoil, the rage and the tears. Every time I think I am recovering a little, I get walloped by the slings and arrows of outrageous executors and solicitors, and I would not mind dishing a bit out in return. Oner of those clubs all studded with very nasty spikes would do very nicely, but they are probably all locked up in the museum. Alas.

I am neck deep in papers, correspondence, and looking for things which were in my hand, on the floor, or very close by only 30 seconds ago. Much more than 30 seconds is needed to re-locate whatever it was. Such happenings make me wonder whether I am becoming Alzheimic, or whether it is merely the accumulated and undischarged grief, rage and stress provoked by the wicked stepfamily and their minions.

When I asked the solicitor about my being reimbursed for household expenditure for the period up to Dr P's death, I was assured that there would be no problem - just let them know - and similarly that the cost of the wake would be borne by the estate. Fine, although I would happily have paid for the wake. My family, friends and I went out and bought quantities of food and drink, and I meticulously subtracted the amount for anything not consumed at the wake. That has now been paid, after a mere 13 weeks.

However the solicitor says he is 'instructed' to get the particulars of the other expenditure claimed. This was household expenditure paid by me, ACCORDING TO OUR USUAL ARRANGEMENTS, because Dr P was no longer capable of doing anything himself, and, what was more, was in hospital and then the nursing home, soon and unexpectedly to die. I do not have all the receipts, just the note of the costs, and I am certainly not going to itemise every little detail of perfectly legitimate expenses. Like buying takeaway coffee. Or taking Dr P chocolate milkshakes. It is none of their business. They knew perfectly well what our lifestyle was like, what food and drink we had, how numerous Dr P's medications, and our normal routines. I will forego the money.

So I expect that the wicked stepdaughters, in addition to their purloining of 90 per cent of their father's cash assets, will now be enriched by their hanging on to a sum which should go to me. Well, they can have it, as far as I am concerned, and may they all rot in Hell. In fact, right now, I hope there is indeed a Hell, and I must consult my Dante to see into which Circle they should all be put. We had a little discussion at the Italian class last Thursday, about where certain other people should most appropriately be placed, and I suggested they should be cut up into as many bits as needed, and a piece placed in each location, thus excruciatingly exacerbating the torture. I tell you, in this day and age Dante would have been a scriptwriter and film maker of horror movies.

Maybe I will calm down in due course. I wrote to my BIL last night, and am in the throes of writing other stuff as required, losing relevant documents as I go, and busily finding them all, re-labelling them and re-filing them, in the probably vain hope of not falling into this state of disarray ever again. I dare not so hope. Having entered here, it has been abandoned. And not because I am wicked, either.

It is probably time I went and bought myself a takeaway coffee and a takeaway spinach something for dinner.

The ball of dark blue wool has not turned up, either. And the telephone is crackly and fuzzy, and I will have to do something about that too. Drat and darn. Or words to that effect.

Someone just rang up about solar energy, and wanted to know whether he was speaking to the owner of the house. I said No, and looked forward to the likely explication of the situation relating to the owner of the house, but he hung up on me! Small mercies.

I worked off some of my rage by a further discarding of things relating to the stepfamily. I may dump a whole lot of their photos in the garbage bin (it gets put out tonight). Or I may soften and send it COD to the solicitor.

Why I am so fixated on trying not to be horrible or bad? I know why, it is my Catholic upbringing and conscience, and its emphasis on charity. The possibly more fortunate stepfamily grew up without such inhibitions. Possibly genetically immune?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Losing things

There is a piece by Beethoven popularly known as Rage for a Lost Penny. It is busy and frantic, and it does not end with any feeling of the triumph of a successful search. This piece resonates, and certainly touched  a nerve. So many have had the experience of not being able to find something. And it drives you nutty.

At present I am searching for a ball of dark blue wool. It is being used to make some more crocheted squares, for the ABC's Knit In. (Or is it Knitting with Love?) Anyway, lots of people get together and makes squares, mostly knitted, but some crocheted, and then there is a big day when people get together and join them all up into wraps, or blankets. The squares must measure 10 inches.

I cannot knit, so my squares are crocheted. They are made from spare and odd balls, and are in many different colours, leftovers from previous cot blankets, and from other balls I bought so I could keep my hands busy. Assembling them into a harmonious combination is difficult, and new squares in different colour combinations have been multiplying.

Once upon a time (sighs plaintively here) it was possible to choose from a extensive array of colours. No more. Odds and sods are what is available now. Various shades of murk tend to predominate. Clear bright colours are scarce.  I keep buying more balls of wool, advising myself to exercise some restraint, for heaven's sake, and fiddling with the arrangement of the squares.

I was using the dark blue to edge the squares only a couple of days ago, as I sat, peaceably enough, minding my own business, in the lounge while watching the TV. I finished the square, and now the ball has disappeared.

It is not under the chair (I have looked several times already), or in the chair, under the rug, anywhere on the coffee table, up the stairs, in the bag of wool, in the backpack I take with me to my classes, nor in any of my pockets, under the stairs, on the ironing board, near the computer, in the bookshelves, in the bedroom, in or under the bed,  in the bathroom, in the cupboards, pantry or kitchen drawers. I cannot find it here or there. I cannot find it ANYWHERE.

It is driving me bonkers. The only thing which might calm me would be to go out and (a) buy the CD of the Rage for a Lost Penny, or b) buy a new ball of dark blue wool - assuming it is still on sale. At choir, I asked our accompanist if she knew and played the piece. She did, but she shuddered slightly.

Never let it be thought that squares are the only thing I crochet, even though there is a spare cot blanket in my cupboards. It is in shades of deep and bright pink and black, but as my nieces have all had boys, I don't think any of them would receive this blanket with glad cries. I think the world believes that if a male child is put anywhere near pink, his vital appendage will fall off forthwith. We cannot have that happen, can we? The risk is simply too great. So I hope someone has another girl child soon....

I have been crocheting a very 1970s style sweater, which I started before Dr P went to hospital. The wool is lovely and a gorgeous shade of wisteria or jacaranda. Very fetching, I hope. I had to pull out quite a lot of it, as I could not follow the pattern. It has been years since I tried to make anything at all complicated. The day before Dr P died I took it to the crochet clinic and the amazing expert sorted it all out for me, and said the pattern was extremely badly written, not to mention wrong.

Since then work has progressed and I am now on the second sleeve. Then will come the fun of sewing it all together, and hoping it fits. Occasionally I take the crochet to places such as choir, where a little can be done while other parts are being rehearsed. Now there are a few of us who do some knitting or crocheting. One of the choristers farms out wool and the pattern to make loose socks for people in nursing homes. The combination of making music and making things by hand is rather pleasant and links us together in more ways than one.

I expect the only way of making the wretched missing ball turn up is to buy another one.