Thursday, 21 March 2013

Things that go bump in the night

Last night something made a big thump. And it felt as though it was on the house. What a startling and rather scary moment. Whatever it was remains a mystery, as I could find nothing amiss. Which is good. But what was it? Perhaps it was caused by some sort of truck or some night work in the street. I will never know.

Such things do tend to make my heart beat a little faster, and give me frights. I am accustomed now to living alone, coping and making decisions, but in some ways it does not get easier. Self-reliance is necessary, but I often feel as though I wish there was someone to call on. And there isn't. Not for mysterious thumps and bumps, anyway. The other day when I arrived home I found a metal object, part of an unknown mechanism, inside my tiny garden. I don't know what it was part of, or how it got there, but it made me feel somewhat uneasy. At such times I feel I am not quite coping.

Today I should be at my Italian class, but I stayed home instead. The homework was difficult and I did not tackle it well, or in sufficient time to be able to muddle through, or to do what I did last week - with the excuse of having been away grandchildren minding and without computer - which was to extemporise with eloquence. I almost wrote fluency, but, umm, that is not quite correct.

I went out to return a very overdue book to the library.  I finally managed to finish it last night. It has been a quieter Thursday than usual.

However, life seldom remains quiet. There was an ALP leadership spill, provoked, apparently by Simon Crean, which resulted in the unopposed re-election of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader.

The vicious shark-like feeding frenzy of the press continues unabated. So much easier to whip up leadership stories, or public opinion polls day after day, instead of telling us, the mug public, about what legislation has been passed by the Parliament, and what programs are being implemented. I despair, I really do.

Perhaps the thump on the roof was a portent.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Recognisably vintage

Over the years my weight and girth increased to a deplorable extent. Clothes ceased to fit, larger ones had to be made or bought. Eventually there were many garments which no longer fitted me, but which I was reluctant to discard. My wardrobe contained far too many garments.

In the last few months of Dr P's life, and in the months following his death, what with all the shock, grief, and stress arising out of all the legal issues and struggles, the weight suddenly melted away. Suddenly I could fit into some of the clothes which had been hanging forlornly for years in my wardrobe. Not all of them looked good, what with the changes in fashion, and the alterations in my figure, but there were some successes. And, what with the summer sales, I bought a few dresses, and have enjoyed wearing them, instead of my usual uniform of black stretchy pants and t-shirts, festooned with various shawls and scarves.

Today I wore a skirt and jacket which dated from many years ago. I had bought the material from a fabric shop, in the days when such still existed, and were not Lincraft or Spotlight.  I even bought the same fabric in even more lurid colours - both fabrics were so pretty, I thought, and still think, that they never got donated to Vinnies. I have worn them a few times, and today wore the less lairy colours. Off I sallied to the Knitting and crochet group, which seems to be appealing to more and more people. We have so much fun we have to close the door, so as not to constitute a noisy nusiance. Today we attracted a Canadian man, a tourist,who came along with his knitting - he was using four needles and was making a Christmas decoration, in a fine wool, in black and white. We were all most impressed, especially when he told us he managed to do his knitting on his international flights.

After the sustained good fellowship  and overall hilarity of the knitting and crochet group, which seems to be attracting more and more participants, I set off to do the food shopping. At the checkout of the fruit and delicatessen shop, the young Asian girl on the checkout asked me had I got my outfit from the vintage shops specialising in clothes from the 1970s? I had to admit that the clothes have been lurking in my wardrobe all these years. And I recollected that on the day which I wore the more brightly coloured outfit in the same fabric, the young man across the road had complimented me.

But I must say I was quite cheered to be regarded as trendy enough to be sporting vintage clothes. And to be considered fashionable.

Female vanity dies hard. I am not even blushing.

Wonders will never cease.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

It seems we cannot have all the news that is fit to print

What an exciting day it has been. I woke up to the news of the election of the new Pope, Francis 1, checked a couple of Italian news reports and printed them, all the better to prepare myself for being able to speak about it in today's class. Papa Bergoglio sounds a warmer and more human person than his predecessor but it does seem he is unlikely to change attitudes to sex and birth control etcetera. It seems aggiornamento can only go a little way at a time. We shall see. Naturally the commercial press rabbited on about his appointment. Sorry, press barons and your minions: there is actually an election for the position of pope.

Apart from this I have been seething away at the standard of political journalism, which yesterday reached a new low in comparing a modest attempt to rein in bad and misleading press stories to the actual savage censorship of the press by sundry brutal dictators. News Ltd crowned this by putting the Minister's face into a photo of Stalin in uniform, which in my opinion reached a new low. I protested on line, but my comment was not published. Surprise. Most of the comments were as bad as the press report - which was very low on facts, but fervent in their belief that this government is both communist and socialist.

Get real, folks! If you want to be total ratbags, at least try and ascertain the facts, both historical and in the present.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Being tempted to indulge in extreme violence towards my computer...

Every so often my computer won't connect me to the internet. I bitterly resent this, as computers apparently know no other language other than cryptic, and I don't have a competent means of translating. So there I sit, seething away, ineffectually, wondering why it cannot simply tell me something useful. Who designed these things anyway? Is Steve Jobs up there in the afterlife, in Purgatory for not making computer things Down Here On Earth not perfectly and absolutely clear?

I am in the rather slow and inefficient process of trying to change my ISP, into a service which is both faster and more reliable. And cheaper. As they (as previously noted) speak only in cryptic, we have communications problems. And why should it suddenly decide not to work anymore? I have done nothing to it. I admit it, I am innocent.

It does seem that if all else fails - and this is usually the case - the simple solution is to switch everything off an then to switch it all on again. I suppose this is marginally preferable to taking a hammer and bashing the  'devices' into smithereens. Who invented the word smithereens, anyway?

Slowly I am moving towards a decision to change my ISP and to get a better, and faster package. But goodness me, I find it all so tedious and confusing. What I really need is someone to come along, to be kind, patient, honest and impartial, and just sort it out for me, and to leave clear and detailed instructions for the (God forbid) eventuality that Things might go Awry again.

By now I should be in bed. I am back home from looking after two of my grandchildren in Canberra, and coping with the daily  management of my grandson's diabetes, and am feeling tired, from the drives there and back, the care of the children, and the fact that for whatever strange reasons my body dredges up from my deepest subconscious, that I have not managed to have more than four hours sleep for each of the last three nights. My son and I took the four children out in the afternoon, and at the end of our jaunt my diabetic grandson had developed a headache. This morning he vomited, before he'd had his insulin injection, and fortunately his mother arrived home yesterday in the late afternoon, so she was able to take over his care. While I now can give him his injections, guided by my daughter, the fine-tuning of the dosage is not easy, and I do worry about doing it competently. He is a a lovely little boy, volatile, but loving, and very good at design and technology, and of course I love him and the other grandchildren devotedly - and have had more to do with them than with the other grandchildren.

The poor little boy. He has enough to contend with his diabetes, and does not need gastric wogs - and of course, these affect his insulin requirements.

I am back home now, which is a relief, as I am, of course, most comfortable in my own home. This morning I went to the National Gallery to see the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition, which was excellent and had lunch with two friends - one, the partner of my dear friend and colleague who died in 2008, and the other another former colleague, who married late in life, to a Chinese woman. They have two children, but sadly and appallingly, she appears to be severely mentally ill, and has accused him of sexually molesting his very young daughters. I have known this man for many years now, and just don't believe her accusations, but how do you prove, with such young children, whether such things happened or not? All I can say is that for the many years I have known him, he was an excellent colleague, a good, kind and loyal friend, and gave me a lot of help while I was trying to work out the intricacies of the possible nursing home requirements for Dr P. He cared for his former partner and his mother, and in my experience he is a good person.

Really, it is no surprise that my head has been thumping away, and evidently my computer has gone out on a sympathy strike.

Friday, 8 March 2013


This weekend I am travelling to look after my grandchildren while their mother goes away for work. You would think their father would be only too glad to have them, but it does seem that his desire to be as unpleasant and uncooperative as possible outweighs any parental feeling. While I feel sorry for him in many ways, this attitude of his does a lot to drive out sympathy.

I am glad to help out, and to see the children, but increasingly feel that pounding up and down the highway is a chore. I thought I might take them to the Art Gallery to see the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition, but their mother seems to think they would not like it. I wonder?

Dealing with my grandson's diabetes is also a worry for me, as he has been rather unstable, and thus his insulin has to be adjusted. Let us hope all goes well. I do know how to give the injections, and my grandson is very good and trusting. Perhaps these days I just worry a lot more.

Packing is a tedious business. What will the weather be like? How much stuff do I need? It is easy to overpack - in fact I excel at it. Nice to be good at something! There is my crochet to pack, and I need to take a few books, and a radio, so I can listen to music. My daughter says to bring a pillow, too. And I have a jar of quince jelly to give her. Suddenly, or so it seems, the quince jelly is almost gone. It must be time for quinces to reappear in the markets.

Time to hit the road.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Today I watched the State funeral for Joan Child, who was the first female Member of the House of Representatives for the Australian Labor Party, and who became Speaker of the House of Representatives. She was a remarkable woman and those who spoke at her funeral showed clearly her character and achievements. she died at home, aged 91, in the care of her loving family. Her family and colleagues paid wonderful and moving tributes to her, and described how, along with her struggle to bring up her five sons, she moved into politics and achieved a great deal.

So often political matters become trivialised and are presented in extremely negative ways. Our press very often should be ashamed, that they do not report on policies, legislation and achievement, focussing instead relentlessly on the negative.

I don't claim that the political sphere is perfect, or that it ought not to be criticised. There is plenty to criticise, but also much to praise and to appreciate.  Newspapers seldom report on legislation or on the details of policies and programs. To do this journalists would actually have to do some work and analysis, instead of carrying on endlessly about the latest public opinion polls and whether there is likely to be a leadership challenge. The standard of journalism, in my view, has deteriorated significantly in recent years, to the extent that it is often disgraceful and very misleading. While it is possible to  get specialised information, the ordinary voter - and such I count myself these days - has a lot of trouble getting any clear and accurate idea of what is happening in the political area. This ought to concern us all far more than it does. We are all citizens, and most of us pay our taxes.

I used to follow politics far more keenly than I do now, which is not to my credit. It is depressing that so many people are so willing to carp, to focus on the negative and not to appreciate that we have a democracy which ought to be the envy of many countries. It is not perfect and has deteriorated in many ways - and of course there are many causes, which include the shock jocks of TV and radio stirring up prejudices and the negative.

 We ought to consider the positive far more than we do.