Tuesday, 27 May 2014

There I lay, abed..

There I lay, abed, this morning around about 7.30, listening to the radio, and nurturing thoughts about getting up. There came a hearty knock on the door. Foxtel had arrived, early, on the first occasion of three possible dates and times. I was not even dressed, nor was my hair brushed. I must have looked a sight, but not for sore eyes. The came, they unplugged things, they suggested that the TV would not work unless I had an aerial, they packed up everything, and went away, leaving me to shower, dress, and ponder.

Well, I thought, perhaps there was an aerial, lurking somewhere around the roof or part of the house, When modestly and decently clad, I went outside to explore. Nope, not an aerial in sight, nor any vestige of one. Curious and curiouser. I rang the man who recently fixed the amplifier, only to find he has gone overseas for some weeks. A cloud of confusedly deep thought descended on me, but the only light to penetrate (apart from reading the TV manual yet again and deriving no more wisdom at all from it) was to walk to my local Retravision store, down the road, and see whether they could sell me an aerial, and give me the where and how and what to do with it.

They could indeed. A nice little one, not all that expensive, either. I showed them my TV remote, and the instruction booklet, and George, the man in charge, gave me instructions, which I wrote down. (You are dealing with technical ignorance on a very large scale here. Mine, that is, not theirs.))

Back home, I sought to follow the instructions, to no avail. So, as George had suggested, I rang him. No worries, he said, I will send the boys down to your house to do it all for you.  Within five minutes the boys arrived, plugged things in, tuned all the stations in, explained it all in easy to understand (and remember?) terms, and went away.

I am so relieved, and am now relaxing somewhat. This is such a nice, pleasant, and overall decent neighbourhood. You get to know the people in the shops, to recognise quite a few faces, and the interactions, both social and commercial are good, effective, pleasant and cooperative. You can call into the local butcher and ask them do they use the word broiler to denote an aged chicked. No, they don't, they sell only young chickens, for roasting etc.  Broiler, we agreed, was not a word used here. Despite what the man wrote in the food page in this morning's paper. In the olden days, back when lots of people had chooks in their back gardens and used the manure to fertilise their vegetable gardens, the chooks past their prime were known as boilers. And, regrettably, some less than gallant males might refer to a less than nubile female as an old boiler.

How times change. All these things having been accomplished, I sat in my armchair, and watched Question Time. They did not answer many, and attempted to make those who asked the questions feel stupid and ignorant.  Not at all like the good people around here. It makes you think.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

When things work, (How ordinary that sounds) how good it is. Life, and therefore large chunks of it keep on keeping on.

But sometimes things unravel. They just stop. Glitches occur. And who can tell why? Not me. Well, hardly ever.

My phone, that beloved instrument that for many years I have taken for granted, does not do all those things to which I had become accustomed. For example, a little light on the telephone used to flash if there were messages on it. The light no longer appears, but despite knowing this, in a theoretical rather than practical sense, grim reality failed to impinge on me. and, let me add, it is no mean feat for reality not to so impinge.

I got home this afternoon, and bethought me of the possibility of there being messages in the phone. and indeed there were. Eight of them, mostly from Telstra. Poor Eva has been ringing me to see whether things are all right. I think they are, but I say this with my heart in my mouth, thumping away there, with  a strong sense of doubt and foreboding, and as a matter of prudence, one does not want to assume that such problems have been fixed, and, what's more, will not recur.

To take my mind off all this stuff I made more quince jelly, and there is still more to be made. Why is all of this so satisfying and soothing? Perhaps it is because the jelly is such a divine colour, deep, pinky red and almost glowing.

This afternoon I went with a friend to the concert of a choir to which we both used to belong. It was English choral music, some old, but more newish, and not as good as the older music. But then I grew up in a very different tradition. And I can still reel off the Latin words of much of it. Overall, the concert was good for the soul, and poured balm on some of the bruises.

The bad news is that more light globes have blown. Oh bother. Just when I thought all had been fixed.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Things going phut

Not just things, it seems, but me too.

It was to be hoped that while Bruce was here fixing up all sorts of things, including light globes, that the light would thenceforth continue to shine. Instead, instead of twinkle twinkle little light globe, they are turning themselves off, one after the other. Oh bother. The ceilings are too high for me to reach, and I have little nightmares about clambering up ladders, falling off and lying there undiscovered indefinitely.

There is a wall light I can almost reach, if I clamber up on top of a side table, but I cannot manage to get the globe in. It is too fiddly for me. And other lights are going out in a sympathy strike. My ladder is not high enough, I am scared of falling off, and it is all too depressing. And this parlous condition subtracts from the good things of life.

I have cancelled the Foxtel, on the basis that if I want to watch repeats of the few TV shows I like, it would be better to buy the DVDs. And not make Rupert any richer. Today was the day for it to be switched off. And it was indeed switched off. Rupert does not muck about. But I do not know how to disconnect all their cables, and at the same time to keep the internet connection.

However Telstra did ring me up to see how my internet connection was. When last they rang, I could not find the modem. I know. Hopeless! Pathetic. So in a fit of sympathy for idiotic, pathetic, and inept older females, they rang Foxtel, and a technician is to come out and sort it all out. Perhaps next Tuesday. Or Thursday. Or Friday.  Who knows? In the meantime I cannot watch free to air because the remote control does not have on it any way of identifying how to scan for channels. I think in a fit of blind optimism I discarded all the notes about how to do what.

This afternoon I went to the dentist, but she was worried about doing the work, which involves an extraction, in case the tiny dose of aspirin I am on makes me bleed to death. She will check with the doctor and let me know. All that fear of dentist for nothing! And all is yet to come.

At least I managed to change the bed linen and wash it and get it all dry. And to wash the pressure glove, which then took all day to dry.

It is quite a performance getting going in the morning. I have to do the lymphoedema massage first, then breathing and stretching exercises. Then I must apply moisturiser all over my body. Once the moisturiser has been absorbed, then I can put on the pressure sleeve and glove. Then I can get dressed.  And get on with the day.

However, the light still shines and I am getting through a few books, and am working my way through listening to CDs I have not played for several years. And I am becoming more familiar with Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet, which the choir is singing in a few weeks. It it quite difficult, in many parts, and is in French.

It was my turn this week to write the argomento for one of the Italian classes, and I chose the comic operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, and managed to take the appropriate selection with me on the iPad, and play it for the class. Sung in English, as G&S does not translate readily into Italian. It all went quite well and I made relatively few mistakes.

Would it not be lovely to achieve perfection one of these days? I live in hope, but not in expectation.

But when you do encounter kind and considerate people, it is such a joy.

And this afternoon there was very good news from my daughter, that her partner has got a job. It is a lucky firm that has him working for them. He and their family truly deserve the good things of life, and some good fortune after months of having a hard time. So there is much gladness and relief, and I know my tiny troubles matter little in the full scheme of things.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Preparing for a visit

A former colleague and friend is to visit tomorrow. She is now living in Melbourne, and we see each other, usually when I visit, and beg a bed for the night, but sometimes she comes here.

She is a good woman. Intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful, competent, forgiving and tolerant. We can be very blessed in our friendships. When geographic proximity no longer exists, one must make an effort to stay in touch, and this is a friendship which is well worth the effort. We talk, we laugh, we reflect, we remember, and we think. Most always the same way, but she makes me think, and perhaps I return the favour.

We are supposed to be dining at a restaurant, but we may perhaps stay at home. I have been cooking up a storm, and prepared osso buco, and will make risotto. Unless, of course, she would rather go out. Mondays, though, are not necessarily the best day to dine out, and thus, I say, be prepared.

 Living alone results in much less cooking. One gets lazy. I cook batches of bolognese sauce, and the occasional curry. But often I have a simple cold meat and salad meal. At other times i resort to simple and easy dishes. The cooking feasts of yesteryear no longer happen. Living alone cramps one's style, as does living with an idiosyncratically fussy spouse. So skills fall into disuse. One becomes lazy. But every so often I spend the day in the kitchen.

This week I have made quince jelly, and today the cumquat marmalade. There used to be cumquat trees up the road, which I harvested regularly, but they were chopped down and an extremely large complex of apartments is being erected. I would rather have the cumquats. I do have a small cumquat in a pot,  but it does not bear a sufficient quantity of fruit. So as I walk around the neighbourhood,I keep   an eye out for cumquat trees, and wonder whether I can knock on the door and organise a trade.

It will be lovely to see my friend. She is good for my soul. I am sure she will help me to count my blessings. And we will laugh, and most likely scowl about the Budget.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Fifty years ago

Fifty years ago today I married. As the marriage ended in divorce after almost 20 years, today can hardly be called a golden wedding anniversary. Should another colour be chosen for  such an anniversary? Purple for Lent, or black, for the dead?

Although this day is haunting my thoughts and reviving some memories. The courtship. Difficulties with parents. The engagement. The wedding. And the wedding night. And the nights after that. The good parts. the bad parts. The struggles to overcome problems. The tragic pregnancies. The birth of three children and the joys they brought. Our careers. and then when, to me, it seemed that we were not doing too badly, the infidelity and the end of the marriage. And then the chasm of unhappiness and despair, and the gradual process of recovery, and the adapting to all the changes in my life.

By now this past life is over, and mostly ceases to haunt me, although anniversaries trigger thought and feelings. I wish my first husband well. Most is forgiven. I hope I accept my own failings and my own responsibility. Many of the negative feelings have been washed away by time, effort, other problems and sorrows, joys and pleasures, good friends, good books and wonderful music, and by singing. I wish I were a better person, but believe that although I am by no means perfect, there is hope. While there is life. It is a bit of a bad patch at present. The loins are girded, the teeth gritted, onward Christian soldiers, we shall overcome. And so on and so forth. But some days should be marked, and given thought. We celebrate time and anniversaries, and achievements. And reflect on failures, resolving to do better.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Let this be a lesson to me

Telstra has been, and I have had all day conversations with one of its far flung staff. We are getting on very  well and recognise each other's voices now.

But first things first. The technician spent a lot of time here, much of which was spent in working out just where all the cables are. The fault indeed was not in our stars, but in the wiring, and he snipped, fiddled, tested, and decided that indeed there was a problem. The poor man had to climb underneath the house, which, thanks to Fernando the builder's work while putting in the new floors, is much more accessible than previously, and nice and dry thanks to the fans ventilating it.  He told me thst the builders had left all the-  Oops, now I cannot remember what it is called - framework?, formwork which should have been removed, and apparently I have some spare roof tiles stored there too. They are the same as those used in the technician's house, and he gave me the probable date of the house's construction. There are some amazing coincidences.

The technician made a lot of derogatory comments about the work of the electrician. None of this cheered me up at all.

 The telephone line is now  usable, and is no longer a mediaeval torture instrument, or cruel or unusual punishment. Let us hope that this unusually felicitous state continues..

 Then Telstra rang from afar, and indeed we were on the telephone for several hours.  One of the things discussed was the horrifically high bill, as although the land line had been diverted to the mobile, the charges were all made on the basis of mobile costs. I think that is now sorted out, but as we checked the telephone numbers dialled, a very peculiar thing emerged, which is worrying me.

 A number, a 1300 one, has, according to the bill, been made from my landline , at least once a week. After I finished talking to Telstra, I looked at my previous bills since the account was transferred from Dr P's name to mine, and these calls have been made since April 2011. And possibly before, but I don't have those records. Often they are made in the middle of the night, but sometimes during the day. All calls last 9 seconds, and cost 35 cents each. I have no idea whose number it is. I rang it and it went beep beep twice and then terminated.

 I shall have to pursue this seriously, as how can my phone be used like this without my knowledge?
My phone appears to have been hacked.  If I am asleep, or out of the house, and the phones remain on their bases, how can calls be made?

And it is a lesson to me to always check bills in fine detail.

I talked to the Telstra staff deputed to liaise with me, and he gave me to understand that they cannot? will not? check whose number it is. But if it is being rung on a regular basis, how do I put a stop to it?How  does my phone make such calls without my action or presence? Whose number is it? How do I stop it?

I will contact the Telecommunications Ombudsman. My son did an internet  search on the telephone number and it does seem to be very fishy and inexplicable.

Surely there are far more enjoyable ways of passing one's time than discussing phone bills, service difficulties and hacked phone lines, especially on Mother's Day.

 I think I will keep drinking  the red wine.  I have been whiling away the time poaching quinces, so soon must make some more quince jelly. Much more satisfying doing this than being on the telephone indefinitely to one's telco, especially while wearing the pressure sleeve and glove, whch make long telephone calls acutely uncomfortable.

 Heigh Ho.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

They promised me.....

Today should have been the day when all my telecommunications problems were to have been resolved. Fixed. Cured. Straightened Out.

 I bounced out of bed, ready for Him, Her, or Them. Between 8 am and 12, they promised. At 9 am someone rang to say the technician had telephoned (egad, he had a phone that works!) and therefore no one would come today.  Aarrgghh!So I went to the Italian class after all. Just as well, prudently, that I had done the homework. Il compito.

 The most recent telephone bill arrived yesterday, with a stratospheric amount due.  I think I am going to wend my weary and troubled way to a Telstra shop, to harass someone personally, and to be ready to burst into floods of wild sobs (not that this would have any effect on any non-self-respecting telco).

Time to email my niece and see what more she can do.

However, the nice local mender of devices has fixed my amplifier, fixed up the wiring and connections, put it all back together, rationalised the spaghetti junction of cables, all very efficiently and kindly. Now it behoves me to finish retuning the digital radio my children gave me, whick lost all its presets during the last fabled outage.  I must beware: there is a scheduled outage soon to enable my very own telco to put in some new cables, or some such. The level of my foreboding has by no means plummetted.

And I must have another look at my settings to try to replace the keyboard settings, inexplicably now in Spanish, back to English. Although  I can understand Buscar and Ir.

Just as well.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Prized talents

When I was about 13 or 14, doing quite well at all subjects except arithmetic, algebra and geometry, end of term and therefore speech night came inexorably around. Guess what I got? Most Improved in Needlework! My parents were not impressed. Nor was I, but it was certainly memorable. For some years I used to embroider doilies (plural?)  which have long been lost.

The local markets now feature a lot of stalls which sell old linen. Tablecloths, doilies, table runners, etc. There must be a lot of deceased estates where such items can be snatched up. I wonder what the ins and outs of it are. Although I have a beautiful tablecloth crocheted by my grandmother, it fits a six seater table, so is not large enough. A couple of years ago I found a crocheted tablecloth for a 8 seater table, for a mere $25, in perfect condition, so promptly snatched it up. It does not get used very often,  which is a bit sad.

I do crochet garments from time to time, but mostly now I make blankets, which go to refugees. Because of the need to wear a sleeve and glove to treat the lymphoedema, my crocheting output is less. The glove needs to be removed.

At present I am edging a rather lovely blanket, made by most of the group members in a variety of stitches, all in cream wool. They are all knitted, except for the four squares I crocheted. Now I am crochetibg the edges of the completed blanket. The women who joined all the squares used a variegated yarn in creams and pinky-rusty shades, and they gave me the remnants for the borders. But they were insufficient, and too short. Fortunately I was able to find the same yarn and am now placidly crocheting the borders. The glove has to be removed  while I do this. Now I am up to the final row, which uses crabstitch,  a stitch which very efficiently gives you a sore wrist.  But the result will be worth it.  The contemplation of the finished product gives me pleasure.