Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Normal service..

 The phone is playing up, has been for weeks, no solution is in sight for another ten days or so, the smoke alarm went off all by itself, with no smoke at all to detect, the internet evaporated, and the TV has suffered some sort of cosmic shock and no signal is being received. am I the conveyor of the cosmic shock, I ask?

Using the mobile hurts my bad arm, I ran out of printer ink, and I seem to spend lots of time and money on physiotherapy. And some nasty dental work has had to be scheduled. Not happy, Jan!  I have got some portable 4G internet, but its workings are mysterious, I don't know how close it has to be to any, each or all of the various 'devices' and woe is me, I do not cope with this sort of crisis.

But Bruce is back, fixing this and that, painting the new hand rail, changing light globes. The ceilings are too high for me to reach them, the ladder is too short, and the thought of clambering up, falling off and lying there helpless is quite vivid enough to deter me. The bathroom in the middle level has a globe which is very large and which is an Edison screw type. I cannot reach it, and I wonder what genius decided to use it.

I spent some time this afternoon chasing a source for some halogen light globes, finally finding the right kind at one of the old, family-run hardware shops in the neighbourhood, where I learned a little more about the complicated history of electrical illumination. The nice man in the hardware shop thinks that the Edison screw one won't be available for very much longer. Planned obsolescence rules, OK?

However the other day I did take myself to see the film The Invisible Woman, about Charles Dickens' very secret relationship with a young actress, Ellen Ternan. I enjoyed the film although somewhat to my surprise it did not get a very good review.

Dickens kicked his wife out of the family home, and his sister in law Georgina remained in the house, running things for him. He went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the relationship. The film is based on Claire Tomalin's book The Invisible Woman, which I bought and read years ago. She has now written an extensive biography of Dickens, and she remarks that it was hard to like Dickens during this period.  I borrowed another book, Dickens in Love, by Robert Garnett, which is also very interesting. I feel very sorry for Dickens' unfortunate wife, Catherine.

I know lots of people love Dickens' novels, but although I dip into some of them from time to time, they are too long winded for me, and I do not relate to his female characters.  Probably as young students we were force fed Dickens rather too early and I never could abide his saintly female characters and the death of Little Nell made me want to throw up. The whole Victorian period of history is fascinating, and many admirable things were achieved, such as the fights for better working conditions, trade unionism, universal education and the extension of the franchise. But I feel sorry that so many women lived in such a suffocating atmosphere.

The male obsession with female purity in this period (and also in many other periods and cultures) seems extremely hypocritical and hateful. They do not seem to worry about their own purity - witness the rapes, murders, burnings, drownings of so many girls and women even today.

Goodness, how cranky this all sounds. But no, it is not cranky. It is facing up to the fact that life for so many women is still a struggle and that equality and justice are not easily achieved. And it makes me angry. At the same time, I count my many blessings. And I look at what I wrote, above, and think, well, things are not that bad, really, are they?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

If you have nothing nice to say about anyone, come and sit with me...

At present it is difficult to feel positive about much. I am mired in negative thoughts, and the milk of human kindness has gone rather sour. There are various reasons for this, none of which do me any credit.

Having my daughter, my grandchildren and a friend of my daughter kept me very busy. She used my car a lot, and so I shopped locally. My son and his boys joined us, and it was good to be together, and to do things with them and my grandchildren. My grandson and I made raspberry sorbet twice. And it got gobbled up very quickly, and we also had a good time making Bolognese sauce. He is interested in cooking, and seemed to enjoy our sessions, and being shown the how and why of it all. And as I do not have any talent with Lego, machines or weapons, it was very pleasant to concentrate on the simple pleasures of how to make good food.

In between all this I flew to attend the funeral of my sister. Most of the Melbourne family went there too. It was a good funeral, with several hundred people attending, and showing the affection and respect  they all had for her and her family. She lived closer to them than I did, and do, and thus they all saw each other far more frequently than I was able to do. Thus I did feel isolated and out of it all. And sad and unhappy for all sorts of reasons and emotions, many of which do me absolutely no credit. Not that such reflections give me any comfort whatsoever, but rather make me feel a failure and less than totally lovable.

Ther does not seem to be much I can do about this, other than to become even more separate. Not from my children and grandchildren, though.

The lymphoedema does not help. The arm is getting better, but it remains a long haul. I did have a check up for the pacemaker, and all is going pretty well. The doctors accept that hospital negligence caused the lymphoedema, and have taken preventative measures for the future. But it is depressing, nonetheless.

I saw the physiotherapist today - so much of my time seems to be taken by various health matters - and the amount of fluid in the arm is greatly reduced. She has taken new measurements and is ordering a new pressure sleeve and glove. They certainly don't help you to look fashionable or well-dressed.

But to end on a brighter note, there has been a second hand book and CD fair and I have succumbed to a number of book purchases.  However, the amplifier for the downstairs radio and CD equipmrnt seems to have expired. I have tried to ensure it was all correctly plugged in - grandsons do tend to fiddle - but to no avail.

 I seem to be living in an environment and condition of declining infrastructure. Oh dear.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

In the midst of life

Tomorrow I am flying to attend my sister's funeral, and staying overnight. I think all the brothers and sisters will be there, joining the immediate family. My daughter who is staying with me for two weeks, helped organise things for me. It was difficult juggling times and means of transport,   And I became rather stressed, but all should go smoothly now, thanks to her intervention.

At present I can only think of my sister's last few years, with the constant and relentless worsening of her mental and physical condition. Sentiments such as it being "a merciful release" fail to acknowledge the human cost and the suffering of the person afflicted, and of all the family members.
During my husband's last few months of life I witnessed and coped with his physical and mental deterioration. It is possible only to deal with the situation little by little, day by day, and as events unfold, and as necessity dictates, reacting to developments and deterioration little by little.

 My sister will have a loving and heartfelt farewell, from her immediate family, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, and many friends.  Thus lives and loves are acknowledged, celebrated and remembered.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Seven, but now six

Today I got the news that my older sister was close to death. She suffered from Lewy Body Syndrome, which is a form of dementia, affecting both mental and physical capacity. She had been in hospital for a number of years. She died this morning.

She was two years older than me, and was bright and active. She was good at music and very good at art. She married a farmer and lived on the farm until hospitalised because of her illness. Four children were born. The youngest died from a tragic accident, and although in her forties, she gave birth to another son, a darling child.

 Some years ago she became ill. She kept falling, and hallucinated. She knew something was seriously wrong, and eventually got the correct diagnosis. Eventually she was hospitalised, and her condition worsened. There is no treatment, no cure.

 I had not seen her for a couple of years. She visited here a couple of years before Dr P's death and we did touristy things, and went to the opera together. I thought at that stage we were becoming closer.  I travelled to celebrate her 70th birthday, a few months early, but could not join the family for her golden wedding anniversary, having just come out of hospital  for the insertion of the pacemaker. So I feel the loss. But I feel full of sadness and regrets.

It has not hit me yet. I think she did not like me very much. Probably there was jealousy, and sibling rivalry. She was the only person I know who has known me for all my life. But I feel quite numb. Sad, but not really feeling.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Raspberry sorbet

It has been a busy day, looking after my grandchildren, while their mother, and her friend, who is also staying here, have been out working. Their hours are long. My daughter is using my car most days, and yesterday she left the car lights on all day, so that the battery was totally flat. 

The NRMA roadside service came and got the car going again, and fortunately the battery is relatively new. 

The conking out of the battery meant that all my preset radio stations disappeared, and thus tomorrow I will painfully and tediously work out how to reset them. Such procedures do not stick in my memory, more's the pity.

The children and I had a pleasant day, and we made raspberry sorbet. Some time having elapsed since the last occasion, I had to check the recipe again. Some time was frittered away looking for the pieces belonging to the ice cream making machine. Eventually I gave up - thinking I must have thrown it out. so my grandson and I poured it into a container, and went to put it into the freezer, and there was the part - sitting there frozen, ready for use. So we put in the mixture and it paddled away efficiently. 

There was a slight error in procedure. I had omitted to sieve the berry mixture, and the seeds are very noticeable. Obviously this was not good enough, so I tediously sieved all the seeds out of the semi-frozen mixture. It worked. I had a small bowl of the sorbet before going to choir, and it was delicious. By the time I got home from choir, it had all gone. 

I am so accustomed to living alone that having an extra four people in the house takes some getting used to. There are things everywhere. Lego, toys, bits and pieces that my grandson finds in the cupboards. You have to watch where you step. And there is a lot more cooking, washing and tidying up. In a fit of zeal, while the garage was vacant, I tidied and swept it, and found a few other things which should have been taken inside long since. And my grandson helped me pour some more potting mix into my planter box. It is now ready for a couple more plants, but there is not much variety in those few places around here which sell plants. some deep thought and venturing further afield is required.

And I achieved something else. I finished another blanket for the refugees. What with the lymphoedema and the constant wearing of the sleeve and glove, my productivity has fallen, as the movement in the wrist has been very restricted. The blanket is a very good looking one, and I feel very satisfied with it. Our group meets again this Friday. And while my expert photographer daughter is here, I must get her to show me clearly how to put photos in blogs and to teach me a bit more about taking photos.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Vaguely musing about life, the universe and everything else..

It has been a busyish day, with the knitting (and crochet) group this morning. As alway, the time just flies, as we have such a good time. Usually on Fridays I do food shopping, but as I had a physiotherapy appointment this afternoon, I could not fit it in, and thus there is very little food in the house. This matters, as my daughter, her children, cat and a friend are arriving this evening, and staying for two weeks, during which I expect to be looking after the children quite a lot and also doing far more housekeeping and cooking than usual. So it would have been a good thing to have done the food shopping. However I will get to the marketing tomorrow morning, and this will supply us with bread, fruit and vegetables. I had to go out and buy a cat litter tray and some cat litter. I don't want any accidents. I lead an exciting life. I suspect that the cat, which tends to prowl around at night, will give me wakeful nights. He seems to like bolting up and down the stairs, and then perching on my window sill, watching the pesky birds on the wires.

It has been an introspective time, this last couple of weeks, which is probably natural when you live alone. And although I do a lot of things, sometimes my essentially solitary condition seeps into the soul and has an overall depressive effect. So I have not written anything, as there has been a bit of a pall hanging over me.  My activities are still rather limited, due to the lymphoedema, and the wearing of the sleeve and glove. The glove is too tight around the thumb, causing numbness, and has also made it rather sore. The physiotherapist will probably order a new sleeve after taking measurements of swelling and fluid content, but I am hoping the glove might be given the flick. Tendons are now visible below the wrist. It is a bit sad when you get excited about the appearance of tendons and veins...

The hospital rang in response to my letter - I had thought there would have been a written response. I was told that my patient records were annotated with the information about the lymphoedema, and if that is so, staff were not consulting it, or taking heed of it. The saga continues. I think I will write suggesting they reimburse me for all the medical expenses. This sort of action might encourage the staff to be rather more careful.

At least I am getting quite a a lot of reading done, and last weekend I made some quince jelly. It takes a surprising amount of time, and the aroma drifts through the house. Perhaps I will make some cumquat marmalade next.  I can't use up all the jam I make, but I give quite a lot away, and it is very satisfying to make it.

And Apologies to Molly, as I note that I used the same caption as she did on the last post. Tut, tut.