Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Friday 29 April 2011

Gamblers' Pot Luck

I am not a gambler, but may have to change.  My Gamblers' Pot Luck Collection of bulbs has just arrived.  More planting my bones and muscles complain.  Treats ahead the rest of me cries.

It is a very clever idea.  The garden company makes packages of the bulbs they have left in uneconomical numbers and sends them out to people who are prepared to take a punt.  You have no input into what you receive, but they guarantee that for $45 you will get at least $90 worth of bulbs.

And I am not arguing.  Today I received:
3 City of Vancouver Tulips (white)
3 Ad Rem Tulips (bright orange)
5 Yellow Hoop Petticoat Narcissus
5 White Hoop Petticoat Narcissus
5 Pinky-lilac Meadow Saffron bulbs
3 Honey Hush Daffodils (yellow petals, pink cup)
3 Mirar Daffodils (yellow petals, orange cup)
3 Changing Colour Daffodils (white petals, pink to white cup)
3 Honkey Daffodils (white petals, orange cup)
3 Falconet Daffodils (yellow/orange)
1 Spycatcher Daffodil  (white petals, yellow cup)
1 Asto Daffodil (white petals, white cup, split corona) and
5 Texas Gold Dutch Iris.

Many of them are sprouting and need to go in the ground fairly quickly.  Not quite sure where they are all going to fit either.  But fit they will.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Yesterday's Treat(s)

Yesterday while having breakfast we were watching a cocky having his.

And then, having finally got all the bulbs that have been delivered in the ground, we had an outing.  And went somewhere I love.

Lake Burley Griffin is about half an hours drive from us and there are frequently greedy swans and kangaroos to be seen.  So we packed some bread up, took my camera and headed off.

We were mugged.  They couldn't get to us or the bread fast enough and were not gentle taking food from fingers.  The swans appeared to be the bully boys and were not letting the magpies, crows or moor hens get any food.  And when we threw it further away the swans chased after it, honking indignantly.  I think at one stage we were surrounded by eight swans.

And then we wandered about 100 yards away to this:

I think that only cats relax more thoroughly than kangaroos.   And I am so often grateful to live in the bush capital and have treats like this readily available.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Meltdown Over

I expect it will come back and bite me again some time but for the moment I am moving forward again.  Thanks to everyone for your support.  I would like to say that I won't do that to you again, but I almost certainly will at some stage. I find that the negative emotions like grief, fear and anger are lurkers in the undergrowth.  The phrase that's life leapt to my mind then.  Why do we only use that phrase for the days when everything goes pear-shaped:  when you step out of bed into a pile of freshly deposited cat vomit, all your bones hurt and none of your clothes fit?  It would be nice to use it in the context of the days (admittedly rarer) when everything comes together, and everything including body and mind works as it should.

And joy and bliss.  All the bulbs that had arrived are now in the ground.  Despite me backing into a rose bush and to quote the smaller portion scratching my lower back/upper bum 'in a way which would have made Jazz proud'.  We had to squeeeze to get the last tulips in, but they are now in place.  Some time later this week another box of spring flowering joy will arrive (the Gambler's Pot Luck collection), but it is likely to be small (only 50 or so bulbs) and I know where they are going to go.  And yesterday afternoon the smaller portion and I fixed the lining on the car ceiling so that it no longer droops down and dangerously obscures vision.   I was on call for LL last night and it was reasonably quiet and I got most of a night's sleep.  Back on a roll again.

Today I plan nothing more strenuous that sweeping the veranda, feeding the birds and reading.  I have started a biography of Alfred Bestall, the creator and illustrator of Rupert Bear.  And I have loved Rupert since I first stole my brother's Rupert Bear Christmas Annuals all those years ago.

Friday 22 April 2011

Emotionally Wobbly in a Recalcitrant Body

Yesterday I did my usual shift at Lifeline.  Family holidays are difficult times for a lot of people so, with Easter looming, I was expecting it to be a busy shift.  And it was.  Busy, and bruising.  Despite glibly thanking MS for making me forgetful, two of the calls will stay with me.  In both cases I was in awe that the callers were still functioning.  In their circumstances I suspect that I would be velcroed to the carpet under the bed and flatly refusing to come out.  And there was nothing I could do for either caller except listen to and to some extent share their pain.  It didn't feel like enough.  It isn't enough.

So I came home, knackered and still bleeding for them and for other people I had spoken to that day.

I knew that I would have trouble sleeping.  So I read some trash which should have sufficiently occupied my mind.  It didn't.  On line to check out some blogs.  And joy, Elisabeth had a new post.  Her work is an education and a joy, and her prose beautiful.  But yesterday and still today it hammers on my buttons.  She was writing about death and dying, specifically about her mother who is in very poor health and whose death may be imminent.

So I went back to bed, and tossed and turned.  I remember looking at the clock a little after 3.  At about 4.30 I woke myself, my partner and both cats shrieking as a particularly nasty cramp/muscle spasm locked my calf tight.  It still feels bruised and walking on it is painful.

A few hours later I gave up and got up.  Thinking, thinking, thinking.  My mother died just after Easter 2004.  Memories.  She had a massive stroke nearly a year before and had spent much of the intervening time in hospital, before moving temporarily to a nursing home.  While in hospital she played hospital staff against family and attempted to play family members off against each other.  As one example I  was very, very tired having visited her each day and told her that I was not coming in the next day - I was going to have a rest.  Shortly after nine the next day the hospital rang to say that she was in tears because I had said I was never coming back and that they thought I should come in and reassure her.  I went.

She was adamant that she wanted to go home, and despite the  fact that she was going  to need 24 hour a day care the hospital administrators helped her to achieve her aim. Significant household modifications had to be made and private nursing care arranged.  And yes, I was responsible for arranging both. 

She had been home for nearly two hours when she had her first fall.  She had always sat on the floor and, when her carer left the room she tried to sit there again.  The carer rang me and I went down and helped her back into the chair.

The next day the carer rang me again.  Mama had rung up her local supermarket and arranged delivery of bottles of wine and cartons of cigarettes, despite being without either for over ten months.  The pattern continued.  The carers would ring me several times each day and often I would have to get to mama's home (two buses away) and sort out a compromise.

Ten days after she returned home the carer rang me to say that she was very far from well and refusing medical treatment.  When I got there it was obvious that she needed treatment so I called the ambulance,  who took her straight to hospital.  She was very, very angry and told the ambulance officers and the carer that I was being selfish and just wanted her out of her own home.  True, I did, but that wasn't why I had called them.  The hospital rang me just before 1am that morning to say she was dying.  I rang my youngest brother and my partner and I met him at the hospital.  She died shortly after we got there without ever gaining consciousness.  And in our last interaction we were both angry.  And I wonder whether if I had known she was so close to dying I would have allowed her to die at home.  I will never know.

I did a lot for my mother over the period from my father's death to her own, but I did not do it with a good grace.  Her alcoholism and manipulation made her very, very difficult to like.  She went from a woman I aspired to emulate to one I was afraid I might become.  And I still feel guilty, despite knowing that guilt changes nothing.

So, why am I pouring all this out?  I read a truly lovely post this morning from Marie reminding me that I don't need to appear to be invincible.  Just as well because I am not.  Both yesterday's calls and my mother are haunting me.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Cats, the Royal Wedding and Gardens

An interesting mix, but my day has involved them all.

Jazz decided that 5am was a suitable time to get me up.  Which he does by reaching under the bedclothes and slashing.  Jazz, aka Sid Vicious, aka Spike.  When my feet hit the floor he started to purr at mega decibels.  Which brought Jewel into the bedroom too.  Also purring.  Happy chappies, though their happiness diminished when they realised that they were not going to be let out straight away.  I am so cruel.  So cruel in fact that I am considering upgrading their Cat Condominium to one with more levels.  Perhaps.

A little later I checked my emails.  To discover that a friend had sent one about the Royal Wedding to 'those who care'.  Given that disinterest is a charitable way of describing my relationship with our Royal Family this struck me as odd.  But I followed the link and giggled throughout (while mentally apologising to my friend).  Not only do I think that the Royal Wedding would be better run on these lines, but those couples who are going to slavishly follow the example set by William and Kate could learn from it as well. 

The smaller portion was still slumbering on.  So, into the garden.  Pruning and weeding to make room for more bulbs.  By the time I came in for a cuppa himself was up.  So we headed outside and put the last of the first bag of tulips in.  Two hundred tulips planted yesterday and today.  And then, oh joy and bliss it started to rain gently.  Very good for the garden and the perfect excuse to stop for the day.

In a little over a week we (mostly the smaller portion) have put in 403 daffodils and jonquils (3 were given as freebies), 50 Dutch iris, and 200 tulips.  We have another 215 tulips to go (15 freebies) and whatever turns up in the 'Gamblers Pot Luck' collection I ordered.  Maybe another 50 or so bulbs in there.   And while I am very, very stiff and sore it has happened.  And will probably be completed over the Easter weekend.  I am gobsmacked.  And then all we need do is wait (and weed) for an explosion of colour and scent in early Spring.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Sunday Selections

Sunday Selections, brought to us by Kim, of Frogpondsrock, is an ongoing theme where participants post previously unused photos languishing in their files.

Anyone can join in, just post your photos under the Sunday Selections title, link back to Kim, then add your name to her Linky list at Frogpondsrock.

This week I thought I would indulge my love of birds.  And a big thankyou to Marie, whose post yesterday reminded me.

Birds who frequent our house include these:

The Corellas seem to love apples (green) so they are a fixture on our shopping list

Female King Parrot being hand fed

I don't know where the white galah came from:  We have only seen him a couple of times.

 They are more usually this colour, but not so bedraggled.

Dry Galahs

The one at the back that looks a little like a budgie on steroids is an Eastern Rosella.  We are truly lucky and often see six or seven species of native birds each day.  And it has given us a whole new understanding of the term 'pecking order'.  Size is by no means everything.  Aggressive small birds see the bigger ones off the feeder regularly. 

 Other birds I have fallen in love with include:

Chinstrap Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Stormy Petrel

And to get away from Antarctica and back to Oz

Friday 15 April 2011


This morning for something completely different we have been in the garden.

The smaller portion has planted over 100 bulbs. Daffodils, a mixture of the doubles and the split coronas.  I have planted maybe twenty and done some weeding and wept some bitter tears.  I can't keep up.   I am sore, frustrated and beating up on myself better than anyone else can.

And yes I know I am not being reasonable.  He planted in areas I had already weeded.  He can get up and down again without pain.

But feelings (for me anyway) are not reasonable.  I still compare myself to a person without a disability and come off badly.  And my expectations are perhaps too high.  Aaaaargh.

I am inside having a cup of tea and calming down (a bit).  Possibly two cups of tea.  After which I am going back outside armed with secateurs and loppers.  I intend to wrestle the stinking honeysuckle into submission so I can plant the last of the daffodil  bulbs where I want them.

And tomorrow I will start again. 

Wednesday 13 April 2011

The War Prayer

I was reading a post by Snowbrush this morning and, as is usual, he got me thinking.   And remembering.  A little while ago I came across this poem/short story by Mark Twain and it more than summed up my feelings about war.  I see it as a vitriolic damnation of war and also a rebuttal of either patriotism or religion as justification for going to war.  As I said, I only recently discovered this, and it opened up a side of Mark Twain I had been unaware of.

It was not published until six years after his death, more than two years after World War 1 had started and while America was still 'neutral'.  Although it was written in response to the US war on the Philippines I believe it applies equally to every war both before and afterwards.

I have attached an excerpt and would be interested in hearing how other people feel about it.

The War Prayer

by Mark Twain

 --- An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:
"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Small Steps in the Right Direction

This week has been on the challenging side.

Liaising with the car insurance people has been difficult and frustrating.

The body is behaving badly because I made it do too much.  The mind is following the body's example and is stiff, mostly non functional and sore.

However, today a number of positives emerged.

The car is going in for a quote tomorrow, at a smash repairer quite close to us.  The insurance company has heard of the repairer and has not yet raised any objections.  A win.

Tomorrow our heating and hot water systems and the evaporative  cooler are being serviced before winter bites.  All by the same company.  Who is offering a special deal.  Another win.

I was on call for Lifeline last night, and the phone was still ringing just before 1 am.  Without waking himself she says with no small degree of jealousy.  All things I could handle, so another win.  And the counsellors I spoke to (I was wearing my supervisor hat) sounded better at the end of each call.  More winning - on a roll here.

And we have planted 100 Scented Mixed Jonquils - near paths, windows and doorways so we get maximum benefit.  Yes I fell over, but I merely lay on the path and kept planting.  I refuse to give in.  And got up when we had finished and rewarded myself with a cup of chai.  The bulbs are just starting to shoot so they need to go in fairly quickly now, but it does look within the realms of possibility.  Just.

And last years bulbs are also shooting.  Promising.  Tomorrow I hope to get at least another 100 in, and ideally closer to 200.  We will see.

All digits crossed.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Sunday Selections.

Sunday Selections, brought to us by Kim, of Frogpondsrock, is an ongoing theme where participants post previously unused photos languishing in their files.

Anyone can join in, just post your photos under the Sunday Selections title, link back to Kim, then add your name to her Linky list at Frogpondsrock.

Gardening is one of my many obsessions so today I am at Tulip Tops, an extravaganza of blossom and bulbs,  held each year to celebrate spring.  Classical music is piped from speakers in the trees, and frogs croak in the water ways.  Bliss.  Some day my garden will look like this (or at least in my dreams it will).

A girl can dream.  A girl should dream.

Friday 8 April 2011

I can hide my own Easter Eggs

 Paper Chipmunk expressed it beautifully in her reply to one of my comments on her latest post 'my marbles feel a bit looser and more willing to roll away.... ' Though the past tense may be more appropriate in my case at the moment, I have been doing too much and  I think my marbles have hit the floor and are under the table being batted about by the cats.

As I have whinged before, my memory is shot.  This is sometimes an embarrassment - think totally forgetting the name of one of your sisters in law - who happens to have been married to your brother for over thirty years.  I am very bad at assigning names to faces.  I have joked when I run into one of the other swimmers at a shopping centre that I don't recognise them with their clothes on, but it is more fundamental than that.  Out of context things and people move firmly into the unknown realms. 

It is often frustrating, but I have learnt that I need lists.  Lots of lists.  Which I virtually never complete despite cheating and always adding an easy thing (like clean teeth or feed cats) to my lists.

We had our kitchen redesigned about ten years ago but I still from time to time reach out for the knife block and can't find it - because I have reached for it in its old position.  And sometimes, particularly when I am tired, words will escape me.  They are in my head, I can feel them there, but I cannot either compel or cajole them to emerge.  Instead either I am left mouthing with nothing emerging or the wrong one will pop out.  Until I went to Antarctica I called pelicans albatrosses, knowing as I said it that it was the wrong word.  Now they are the p birds.  I cannot say their names, but I can type them.  Cushions are another problem word.  Easily typed, stuck behind the throat.  Also scissors.  These words are some of the ones that I regularly misplace.  Others come and go.  Weird.  And if the Freudians out there have any explanation please keep them to yourself.

However, after repeatedly visiting and commenting on Paper Chipmunk's latest post I am starting to think of the positives to having a sadly deficient memory.

I have said that I can reread murder mysteries because I don't remember who died, much less who killed them.  True, but if I am being honest, they are not the only books I forget.  So I can reapply myself to books on the groaning shelves where I have only a faint memory of pleasure and be excited all over again.  And I can't really complain about that.

I have vague ideas about what is in the garden, but each season as the perennials re-emerge I am pleased and surprised and my daily walks become exciting voyages of discovery.

And the same applies to art works.  Recently I saw a picture of one of Brancusi's sculptures, and was immediately filled with lust and longing.  I wanted to hold it, and I loved what it said to me.  But I had forgotten his work completely.

And then I thought of the pleasure I could get from rediscovering so many things.   Things to see, things to do, things to savour.  And yes, it is likely I will come across some horrors in there too - but I probably won't remember them.  Or not clearly at any rate.

I can and do get depressed, but find it difficult to stay that way when I can't remember the details of what prompted my descent to the depths.  Another win.

So this year I may just test the waters and see if I can indeed hide my own eggs.  And I am already smiling at the prospect of opening a cupboard and finding an unexpected treat.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Happiness is

 Warming one's belly on the fish tank light.  Comfort and fish to watch when/if one can exert one's self sufficiently.

However, as I loaded the photos I was strongly reminded of this:

Perhaps Jazz was an elephant seal in an earlier incarnation.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Drat and double drat.

The smaller portion and I went down to the local shops this afternoon.  I wanted some ingredients to make Rumbledethump (a wonderfully named Scottish version of Colcannon) and we thought that while we were out we could pay the car insurance which is due next week.

Shopping done, and bill paid we set off for home in a glow of achievement.  We were not out of the car park when a young man reversed out of his parking spot straight into our rear passenger door.  Humph.  Crumpled panel(s) which will also require repainting.  No-one hurt which is the important issue.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Have I mentioned I don't do things by halves?

Some of you may remember that the smaller portion and I went mad and each ordered about 450 bulbs.  Making a grand total of  900 bulbs (or so).  With nowhere to put them.  So heavy duty weeding, pruning and tidying was called for.

Twenty garbage bags of weeds later I realised we needed a skip.  And then himself and I had discussions about what size we needed.  He said the smallest (two cubic metres) and he could use the extra room (hah!) to clear out some of the crap in the garage.  I said we needed a bigger one and ordered a three cubic metre skip.  Which we have spent the week filling.  With garden produce.  The garage is as crap filled as ever.

Not only is the skip full, the smaller portion (and a neighbour) have jumped up and down on it three or four times to enable us to nearly meet the requirement that it be filled no higher than the water level.

And we didn't finish.  By a long shot.  However, most of the bulbs have arrived so another skip and more of that sort of insanity in the garden will have to wait until we have planted the bulbs.  The remaining 50 to 100 bulbs are not expected to arrive for a fortnight.  Will we be ready for them?  I know not.  Perhaps.  Or perhaps I will have collapsed in a screaming heap.

We do however have some space for planting.  The daffodils will go in first, then the iris and the tulips afterwards when hopefully the weather will have cooled down a little.  We can see down some pathways for the first time this season! 

We have also uncovered some things that were largely hidden by the undergrowth.  Including some of last years bulbs (I had wondered whether they had rotted in our almost unheard of damp weather).

The vegetable garden on the other hand ...

In the forefront of the photo is the pineapple sage, flowering its little heart out.  Also the lemon verbena (ditto).  There are many tomato bushes too.  And herbs.  All largely concealed by the rampant raspberries.  Which I have decided I will dig out and confine in a half wine barrel or two next year.  But bulb planting comes first, even though collecting the produce is like a jungle expedition.  The veggies just have to wait.

I am seriously impressed and surprised at our achievements this week. Or to be more accurate at my achievements.  Himself just needed the motivation, and most days I had done a few hours in the garden before he got up.   Bending is as difficult and painful as ever.  Reaching over my head is a new area of frailty.  But somehow it got done.  And I bought a long handed digger so I should (fingers crossed) be able to plant the bulbs.  I will probably put them in their little holes using the long handled barbecue tongs.  I plan to use the tongs to put the blood and bone as well so I guess we will need a new set of tongs.  A small price to pay. 

I have just remembered (dammit) that tonight is a night I have to stick a needle in myself.  When that is over I plan to have (and enjoy hugely) a glass or perhaps two of red wine.