Thursday, 28 August 2014

After all these years

Tonight I met one of my neighbours. I live on a corner block, and the little side street connects two access roads to my suburb. My garage (very lucky to have one around here, in an area with tiny blocks and very little land) is on the side street.

Perhaps in normal suburbia, with larger blocks of land, it is easier to meet neighbours.  Here, the front gardens are very small, and you do not often see people out the front. And cars exit from the garages from the back lanes, all  built in the days when night carts collected waste products. Opposite there is a high school, and a large complex of apartments. So the side street is where there is the best opportunity of meeting neighbours.

I know the two closest to me, and they have spare keys to my house. I let them know if I will be away. On the other side of the lane there used to live a very old lady. She was related to people who I used to know while Dr P was alive, but since his death I no longer have any contact with them. The old lady was very deaf, and although we encountered each other fairly often, she never recognised me from one day to the next. I knew her daughter, who called in to see her every weekend. She found her mother on the floor more than a year ago - she had fallen, and was unable to call for help, and was, I think, put into hospital or a nursing home and I do not know whether she is still alive. The house is empty, and in a serious state of decay and dilapidation, and quite likely will be totally demolished at some time.

Next to the old lady's house there are two men, probably gays, but I never see them, and do not know what they look like. Further up the street, I did know the owners, but they packed up and moved to Queensland, and I have not met the new owners, who are Asian without children. I have met the woman who lives on the corner of the next lane but see her rarely, and she has been having a lot of renovation done. Like me, she had her house damaged by the garbage trucks coming through the lane so there have been some repairs.

My immediate next door neighbours are doctors who use the house as their professional premises. I know them and we chat briefly when we encounter each other.

In the main street there is a woman I know by sight, with two small black dogs that she walks every morniong. It is only recently that we nod to each other. I do not know anyone on the far side of her house, although when I walked up the street the other day to investigate the flow of water in the gutter, I met the owner of the house on the next corner. He was busy hosing out his stormwater drain. He said he had an olive tree in his back garden and that its leaves clogged up the drain. Oh, and there is a young man whom I encounter in No 84, and we talk on the rare occasions that we meet. He is an ardent gardener, so we have interests in common.

So although I know quite a few local people I have relatively little contact with immediate neighbours. It is a curious situation. Now that I come to think of it, I have always lived in houses with few opportunities for meeting neighbours. The first house we built, my husband and I, after our marriage, was across the road from what was to be a hospital, and so there were no neighbours opposite.

There was a knock on the door tonight, and a man explained that his wife's car, which she had picked up after repairs had been done to it, was now blocking my garage exit. The steering had failed, and they had to wait until the insurance sent around a tow truck to take it away. It did not matter to me. as I was not planning to go out at all, but I discovered that he and his wife live on the other side of the road of the small side street, and I have never seen them, in all these years. I have walked past the house often enough. There is a large camellia on one side of the path to the front door, and the other side has a healthy and flourishing collection of weeds, and I have often been tempted to weed it for them. I commented on the camellia, and how lovely it is, and the man told me it was given to his wife by her son, who was later killed in a motor bike accident.

So many lives. So many stories. How can we all connect? One of the great blessings of the knitting/crochet group is that after quite a few years in this neighbourhood I am coming to meet and to get to know local people.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Pressing matters

Having finished another blanket destined for Wrap With Love, and having  checked the all the ends were sewn in,  I have now pressed it very carefully. Sometimes the edges are somewhat irregular and wavy,  and must be steamed into a more even and regular shape.  This task recalls to me the perennial parental lament and reproach 'You can't go out looking like that!'   And I have posted a blanket to my son and his boys. Productivity rules, OK. Well, sort of.

Our group met on Friday morning, and as usual it was very productive. And immensely enjoyable. They are all such good, able and talented women. It is very inspiring that so many women are doing all this work to help others. We are all fascinated that there seems to be a renaissance in making things by hand.

My house is littered with squares, al;though this afternoon I did do a little tidying.  They must be put together in as pleasing a composition as possible. Making the squares is the easy part, joining and sewing in the yarn ends, and then doing a crab stitch edging takes just as much time.

On Sunday  there was a significant birthday party for one of the members of the Italian class. This was a lot of fun. Our friend and her family had been cooking up a storm. Everything was delicious. She and her husband live quite a long way away, in a much leafier part of the city. Not like around here, with its microscopic gardens, and the sight of so many plants bursting joyfully into flower was wonderful. I was fortunate to get a lift there from another class member who lives near me. Afterwards we were all driven to the station,  and we went home by train and bus.

The depressing part of the last week was my appointment with the physiotherapist. To my disappointment and dismay, the lymphoedema has worsened somewhat after a fortnight of not wearing the pressure sleeve. Back on with the sleeve. Alas and woe. Will it ever get really better?

To distract myself I cleaned the oven. And I am puzzling over the intermittent interruption to the internet. My connection drops out quite often. I made an appointment with Apple, to test the wireless thingy (Airport, I think it is called), in case that is what is causing the problem. Technical confusion on my part does not help. Perhaps the computer is also ailing, and a new form of symbiosis is smiting some of us lesser mortals. It does not bear thinking about.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

fleeting thoughts and things

Is it not amazing and immensely aggravating how you think up many blog topics while on the bus, or in the middle something more important, but  you  cannot write it down, and you forget. And then you have a total memory failure. This happens to me often. It make me think the brain is shrinking, disintegrating, turning into custard,  sinking into oblivion, and just plain not working. It is not a happy  thing to happen.

So here I sit, having a rest from crocheting and from contemplating possible colour schemes, while pondering the stream of consciousness, both in theory and practice. Perhaps there are so many minor matters cluttering up both brain and memory that true creativity does not have the chance of a snowflake in hell.

So, the news from this tiny corner of the world.

The internet is very irrational and episodic. I fear a call to my ISP must be made. This prospect is mega daunting.

And for some reason or other, the iPad charger is not working. It sends some sort of error message, which, like 98 % of error messages, matches exceedingly poorly wth human comprehension. The iPad went down to 4% which was rather scary. I foresee a visit to the Apple Store, and long queues to endure.

The printer needs new ink, so I went out and bought some, but am not sure the shop sold me the ones I need.

It has been raining and raining. Not happy.

I had a medical checkup this afternoon. All is well. I could not remember the nurse's name (Liz) and the doctor and I had an impassioned  discussion about media treatment of women, sexism, and such like. I had to get a referral to the breast cancer specialist. Why cannot they give you an ongoing referral, instead of a new one every year?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Vale Peter Sculthorpe

Today's news announced the death of the Australian composer, Peter Sculthorpe, at the age of 85. He was an extraordinary person, an excellent and versatile composer, whose contribution to Australian cmlassical music cannot be underestimated.

I am not familiar with all of his work. What I did hear was well worth it.

I met him a couple of years ago. During a visit to Canberra, I stayed witho a friend who is a chorister, and we sang in the same choir. She also sang in an excellent smaller choir. During my visit my former choir gave a concert, and the program included the Victoria Requiem, and Peter Sculthorpe's new work, a Requiem. It was a very moving work - in my view a true Requiem, in the great tradition of Western classical and religious music.

After the concert I met various friends and fellow choristers. Peter Sculthorpe was sitting with friends at a nearby  table . I wanted to tell him how wonderfu and moving his Requiem was - in my view a true Requiem. I  went over to his table, and told him so, and expressed my admiration and appreciation of his music, and added that I had been recently widowed, and that this Requiem resonated powerfully with me - which is what we want and need from such music. Peter Sculthorpe was so kind and sympathetic, and seemed glad to be told that his music reached my soul.  I was privileged to meet him and to talk to him. His work will endure and we will remember him and his music.

Requiescat in Pace.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hard cases and tragic results.

Last week it was my turn to write the argomento for one of the Italian classes. My topic was commercial surrogacy. I can understand the desire and hunger to have babies - from my own experience, having lost babies, and having feared that I would be unable to bring a baby to term. However I do feel profoundly uneasy about commercial surrogacy. To me it reeks of slavery, of buying, selling and owning another human being. To me it is anathema. I think that the USA's history of slavery may have left a residual, perhaps unconscious feeling that human beings can be owned and traded. Certainly the concept of racial superiority was deeply embedded.

While at university I studied American history. One part of the syllabus was the civil rights of African Americans, and the struggle against segregation and for voting rights was long, hard fought, difficult and often bitter. Many died in that struggle. Legal reasoning had to change.

Our Italian class debated the issue vigorously. The next day the newspapers reported the story of a Thai woman who carried and gave birth to the biogical children of an Australian couple. She was found to be be carrying twins, and the male was found to be afflicted with Downs Syndrome, and also had a heart defect. The biological parents wanted the boy to be aborted, the surrogate mother refused. The parents accepted the baby girl, but refused the boy. The surrogate has kept the boy.

This story has aroused much controversy, both in Australia and in Thailand. The surrogate is about 21 and has two children of her own, aged six and three. The family is poor. Many people, having read this tragic story, have donated money for this family, and for the baby boy. There are varying reports of the story, and there are disputed and contradictory reports. But it makes my blood run cold.

How can it be that people are so desperate to have a child that they enter into a surrogacy contract, and then urge abortion, and reject their defective offspring?  It is wrong.  It seems to me to resemble thae way racehorses are bred.

I hope that some good may come out of this case, not only for the baby, the surrogate mother, the other members of her family, but also for the purchasing parents and the chosen baby.