Thursday, 23 May 2013

The old man is snoring..

Yes, it is raining, it is pouring. Such downpours we have had!

Last night I drove home from choir. It was raining. I pressed the remote control, to open the garage, and nothing happened. Several times in a row nothing happened. and then I noticed that everything was rather dark. I parked the car and let myself in through the front door, and then discovered, albeit belatedly, that the power was off. Having coincidentally gone to choir with a torch in my handbag, I was able to check the fuse box, find the candles and the matches and throw a little light on the interior. If not the subject. No TV, no lights, no remote control, no kettle, the refrigerator and freezer off.

Oh bother! Or words to that effect.

I prowled around checking it all out. Then after half an hour the power came back on. But not the street light outside my house, and not the internet or the TV.   Surrendering to the inevitable, I went to bed. In the morning the internet was still off, as was the TV. Thus I had to ring the various utilities and organise them to check it all out.

This meant I could not get to my One to One session at the Apple store this afternoon. You cannot ring Apple to cancel and I could not, of course, email, so after this morning's class I had to walk there and cancel, and then hurry home to await the utilities people. They came, in due course, promised to fix the street light, noted the trees further along the street, which need pruning, and told me I had to contact the internet and TV people. They deal with power, not with cables.

The TV and the internet came back on, but the rain keeps falling in a very drenching manner.

It is horrid telephoning the utilities, You go through hoops identifying yourself, and then they tell you there have been outages in the area and all will be fixed in the fullness of time. Or to ring some one else.

When did the word 'outage' spring forth?

Thus I fill my day. It is disappointing that my first effort in some months to overcome the thick mental cloud of confusion about all things technical has been thus thwarted.

Since changing my Internet Service provider there have been many complexities to deal with. And they all take so much time. And make me recollect my youth, when you seldom made long phone calls, had no TV or internet to fill the days, and instead went to work, school, tennis or swimming, or read.

But I did get to choir last night, and my voice is coming back, although it needs to be treated gently. All these technical people cope with the minutiae of telephones and computers, outages and intages, on and off switches, plugs, remote controls and the like. Such as speaking to distraught and confused customers, who cannot always understand their offshore foreign accents.

But can they sing Rachmaninov?

To each his or her own. But I'd like to be better at multi-tasking.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Not quite golden

49 years ago today I was a bride. I was walking up the aisle of my parish church on my father's arm, to be joined in Holy Matrimony to my fiance.

It had been quite a hard road to tread. We had been girlfriend and boyfriend, and then engaged for the past three years.  My parents were not supportive. They thought we were too intense. They feared for the loss of my virginity. They thought I should be home more, arrive back from university early enough to help with the evening meal and subsequent clearing up. They seemed unwilling to respond to and encourage my growing up. Once I arrived home, I did the family's dishess. My next sister was studying for her Matriculation - far more important than my final honours year. Somehow the two brothers managed to avoid helping with dishes or with anything much else. My older sister had left home to become a nurse. My mother had suffered for years from pernicious anaemia and consequent depleted energy. My father worked each night after dinner until midnight.

There was little support and encouragement for me. Instead it seemed there was constant criticism. After my boyfriend and I decided we would marry, we wanted to announce the engagement on my 21st birthday.  I arrived home that evening to tell my parents, and my mother burst into tears. My father thundered, 'How dare you come home and upset your mother with news like that!'

Had they been more sympathetic and understanding, and more tolerant, the relationship might well have petered out, and died and natural death. Instead we clung to each other, against what felt like a thick fog of disapproval. Once we were married, and out of the family, we would be happy. So we believed.

And, of course, we got married so that we could have sex. Premarital sex was unthinkable to many of us - although of course, it happened. And I wish it had in fact happened to us. Although of course, I would have become pregnant, which is what happened in the second month of our marriage. Several years of trying to control strong sexual desires affected my ability to have a satisfying sexual relationship and my husband's ability to be a satisfying lover to me. Our relationship was already doomed.

We had three children together. My first pregnancy was disastrous. I caught rubella, and at 22 weeks miscarried twin boys. Everyone said it was just as well. which was true. But I mourned nonetheless and the pain of loss still lurks in my soul. The next pregnancy was an ectopic one. It was three years before our first live child was born, the second arrived 14 months later, and the third after another five years. I believed then that we had come through our traumas and crises, and that we would be happy. Yet we never were, not quite, though we still reached for happiness.

We got on with things, built a house and a garden. My husband studied law and was able to escape from his soul-destroying job - to which he had been bonded for five years - and developed a good career, in which his efforts and abilities achieved good things for himself and the polity. I too found a job, and worked part- time for many years. I loved my work, and workplace, and also did a second degree.

And then he had an affair, and left the marriage. Not an easy thing to do, I think, in retrospect.  I certainly fell apart, from distress, what felt like betrayal and fear for the future.  I took years to recover.  My children, it then seemed to me, took their father's part, and could not cope with my distress, emotional flailing and self pity. Perhaps my husband did not intend to damage me, but then again, he may have, and naturally put his own life and happiness before mine. He remarried and had two more children, achieved, and still achieves much, and is, I believe, happy. I wish him no harm. I wish him well.

I too remarried, and am now widowed, and still re-creating my life and my future.

For me there is still emotional scar tissue and rawness. I look back on that bride of long ago, innocent and trusting, and wonder how much better I should and could have done, and been. A stronger, better, more loving person, a better mother. Far more capable of being happy and positive. Less inclined to see myself as victim, innocent or otherwise.

One cannot, or should not repine, and I am rather too prone to do so. That wedding day is so long ago. I don't think about it very often. Anniversaries, however, re-create memories and emotions. Getting things right is the work of a lifetime.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Frittering away the day

Having changed my internet service provider, I somehow hoped that it would be a simple procedure. I opted to have a technician come and sort it all out, plug everything in, leave me with some helpful advice, and that it would all fall into place. Hah!

After his visit, only one of my many phones worked and it took me a lot of time of effort to have that sorted out. The Telstra man should have seen to that.

The new email seemed to be working, and I have not yet cancelled the previous one, as there are still people to notify of the change. Last night I tried to email a photograph, but could not make it go from the new address. Today I rang the New ISP again, It took over an hour, requiring me to allow remote access to the computer, and it still did not work. Ring Apple, they said. So I did.

This call took a long time, too, but eventually (fingers crossed) it seems to have been sorted out. What they did to sort it out I do not properly understand, but it had to do with emptying caches and such like, switching it all off and then back on again. Now it works. I could never have sorted it out myself - not a snowflake's chance in Hell!

The nice Apple man, Simon, told me, when I complained about the failure of the Telstra technician to go through and sort out these issues, that it was very common for the technicians to rush through, and not check such things, although, of course, they are supposed to. And of course, it costs quite a lot to have a technician come to the house and connect, and test it all. And I will be paying another month's fee for the soon to be discarded ISP.

I cannot be alone in all these puzzles and technological issues. It is all too probable that there are heaps of people just like me. I don't have technical help at hand, although my son and daughter and pretty helpful. But they are not here!

And how it eats away the time. All the things you have planned for the day get pushed down the queue, and deferred. Things take forever. Yesterday I tried to go through some travel photos and label them. I am nowhere near finished and there are so many more to do. I look at lovely scenes and wonder where it was. I do have the itinerary of the trip, but still cannot work out just where it was that our little bus stopped as we drove along the coast. I came across a photo of the Colossus of Barletta, which was shown in a TV program last night on the art of ancient Rome. I tried to email it to a friend and found that the email wanted to use my old address and would not recognise the new one. Hence my day on the telephone.

I feel that my time could be better used. I could be out learning things, or doing various courses about how to use your computer. In due course I intend to get an iPad, and improve my skills, but all the recent experiences have made me feel like a useless dunce who is frittering away her few remaining years instead of doing real things. And becoming a burden on my family.

And how stupid is it to spend one's day puzzling,wrestling, telephoning, and moaning and groaning about it all? There is still so much to learn, books to read, and music to listen to again. I have not even found the time to make another call to Fernando, asking him yet again to come and fix up that part of the new floor which has movement in it. Another day has gone and I have not done my Italian yet. Instead, making soup and doing the washing seem to have become disproportionately important.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


As previously described, I spent a lot of time getting organised for the preparation of my tax return. Before I left home I telephoned to make sure the tax agent had received my documentation and to check whether there was anything lacking. There was one document needed, so I flurried around, just like a snowstorm, really, until I found it.

My daughter picked me up from the airport and took me to the tax agent, where it all got finished. The accountant complimented me on being such a well-organised and methodical person. I nearly fell off my chair. 'Oh', she said, 'you are wonderful. So many people are hopelessly disorganised.'  I know full well how great a muddle I can fall into and how tedious is the process of extracting myself and rectifying it all. So I swallowed a few grains of salt, but felt unjustifiably pleased, notwithstanding. And of course I am resolved not to allow myself to get into a muddle ever again.

Yesterday morning I awoke with no voice, so did not go to choir tonight. Rachmaninov's The Bells is not an easy piece of music to sing, and it is quite hard on the voice. But I will miss having a sing and not being part of the rehearsal. Nor did I go to my Italian class this morning, but took myself off to the doctor, who could find nothing much amiss.The voice has partially returned, but only in a deep, gravelly and scratchy mode. It has been a very quiet day. I feel slightly off colour, which is unusual for me, and makes me feel hard done by.

Melbourne was, for me, quite cold, and for much of the time I had to be swathed in layers. The friend I stayed with for the last night is made of stern stuff. She puts on warm clothing and did not turn on the heating. Despite my warm clothes I kept shivering. This is probably how the cold germ managed to sneak into me.

Now for a statistical analysis. I saw my daughter, her partner and my grandsons, my three Melbourne sisters, both brothers, lots of their friends, and, let me see, how many nieces and nephews and progeny? I think around 30. I managed to have lovely long cuddles of the latest great-nephew, 3 weeks old Angus, who slept peacefully on my chest, and whose mother loved the cot blanket I made him, and had even sent me a thank you letter. New babies are gorgeous.

Thanks to my youngest sister, I even managed to visit a fabulous wool shop, where I bought a cotton dress for my granddaughter, and a couple of patterns, but managed to escaped without succumbing to the temptation of buying more yarn. Apart from squares, I have nothing to crochet right now, and accordingly I feel restless.

We went to see a film, Song for Marion, which we both liked very much. Wonderful singing, acting, characterisation, and, treating as it did a final illness, and the bereavement of the grumpy husband played by Terence Stamp, it was very moving. I had tears running down my face, being reminded of Dr P's illness, and my own bereavement and adjustment.

My immediately younger sister, mother of five and grandmother of fourteen, departed for a month's holiday with a friend, to the USA. She needs a break, as for the last eight months she and her husband, (the BIL who helped me so much with all the legal hassles), have had one of their daughters, her husband, and their three children staying with them. While they all get on very well, there is not much separate space for themselves. And possibly, not all that much peace and quiet.

The battery charger arrived safely for my daughter, so all is well. On my way home from yesterday's Italian class I bought a CD for my grandson, who is learning to play the flute. I hope he will enjoy the lovely Mozart flute music.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

How going away makes life very very rushed

Back home, having had almost no use of a computer for five days, I am almost ready for bed, but sit here thinking instead. Tired after the day;s travelling, arriving home to find my daughter need a camera charger posted back to her urgently. However it took about six text messages to get the details I needed for her, and I got to the post office with only 10 minutes to spare. Fortunately for her, I was able to use some of Dr P's old stamps.

He had a lot of stamps, which are still valid, but they need to be added up to reach the required amount. and their glue is not long lasting, so that the Post Office must groan when it sees me approaching with a parcel. They had to stamp 15 $1 stamps, and then try to glue them to the parcel, and finally had to use sticky tape on them.

Thus it took quite a long time before I was able to unpack and put everything away, check the mail, put the rubbish bins out, reluctantly discarding the basil, intended for pesto, which is more than a week old. I had sushi for dinner instead.

And some wine.

It always takes a while to unpack, and tomorrow I must be out of the house early. While in Melbourne I searched for a house-warming present for friends who have sold their lovely large house, and moved to an apartment, necessitating the disposal and discarding of quite a lot of their belongings. I wanted to give them a house-warming present, but if you have had to dispose of many precious possessions, it is likely that you don't want to start accumulating more. So I have bought them some soap and some notepaper, which are definitely for consumption rather than retention, and thus they seem a good choice.

My sisters and I met for breakfast on the Saturday morning, and had a good time. I spent the rest of the day with my youngest sister and then we went to the birthday girl's apartment, to  deliver food, and had our faces made up by one of our many nieces. I have never had my face made up before, and fortunately my niece agreed that black eyeshadow would not be a good idea for me.

The 60th birthday party was a great success, marred slightly by the speech made by one of my sister's old friends, which concentrated unduly of her rather wild youth instead of her remarkable achievements and qualities of character. The birthday sister is a generous, giving and caring person, prone to high jinks, and has had to face - like so many of us - various vicissitudes in life. Our mother died of cancer when  the two youngest children were only 15 and 19, and this  sorrow was not easy to bear. Nor was my father's remarriage, a couple of years later, easy for the younger children.  I often observe that men do not like to be alone!

Along with her children and her friends, my youngest sister and I spoke about our sister at the party. Each of us had different perspectives and emphases, which probably revealed to all the gathering the characteristics and complexities of this woman we love so dearly. Having married young, myself, and moved away from the city of my birth, I have been apart from the life of the family which stayed put. While I am at a distance, it is good to remain a part and to nourish and foster those strong family links. Although it is mostly the sisters who do so - somehow the two brothers remain apart.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Dithering while frittering away the time

Tomorrow I am flying to Melbourne to celebrate my third sister's 60th birthday. She said she did not want any presents, so we have taken due and proper notice of that, and intend to present her with concert and film vouchers.

My packing still remains to be done. Much of the day has been frittered away in an apparently vain attempt to find my new password for my email. Drat the thing, my memory and my lack of proper organisation. Now I will have to ring Telstra again, but no point in doing so until after my return.

Much time has been spent getting documents organised for my tax return, which is very very late. I sent a package off to the tax agent last week and hope it arrived in time for them to sort it all out and have it ready for me to sign at tomorrow's appointment. The paperless office seems to have escaped me.

Mind you, I like to have paper records. They come in handy at times, such as when you have to disprove the untrue and inaccurate statements have been made. You never know if and when the computer will crash, obliterating the past. In my view too much of the past has been obliterated and I am not going to help it any further. Print, on paper, is much more satisfying, and I cannot see my easily transferring to iPads etcetera. No, give me a good book or hundred, with good quality paper and a font pleasing to the eye, and many of my needs and wants are met.

This desire for hard copy has not transferred to photographs, however, as it has been too hard to select and then go off somewhere to get them all printed. They look good on my lovely Apple computer, and if only I could get around to labelling them all accurately and systematically, greater contentment would ensue.

At least I have found my batteries and chargers, and hope to take lots of photos of the multitudinous family, ranging from my eldest and her children, to brothers, sisters and their numerous progeny.

But now is the time to stop waffling and babbling and to get upstairs and pack. What will the weather be like?

Once on my way I will probably stop fretting and just get on with having a good time.