Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Sunday 26 June 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.

And my theme for this week is Eastern Rosellas.  I hadn't seen them for a few weeks and wasn't sure whether I had just not looked at the right time, or whether they had moved on.  And then, last Thursday early, they reappeared.  They are almost bottom of the pecking order so rarely get the feeder or the apple to themselves.  And like many of the birds we see, they LOVE apple.  Green for preference.  And on the grey days we have been having they are a joyous splash of colour.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Made with his own hands

A while ago my mother got a post largely to herself.  In the interest of fairness I thought it was time my father got a look in.

Father was a German Jew.  I am pretty certain his mother went to America just before the war started (without him) but know nothing about the rest of his family.  It was a taboo subject in our house.  He rarely mentioned the war either.  I know at some stage he was fighting in Egypt and I know that after the war he lived in Birmingham.  His path to the UK and his life before that is pretty much a mystery to me.

He moved from Birmingham to Australia in the early 1950s to take up a position as a technical officer at the Research School of Physics at the Australian National University (ANU).  His initial salary was nearly 300 pounds (a year) which he told me was unheard of riches.

He crossed paths with my mother and her first husband in Birmingham.  They moved to Canberra so that my mama's husband could take up a position at the ANU (also in the Research School of Physics).  My mother's first husband died, leaving her widowed in a strange country with three children under five.  Life must have been very, very hard for her.

She and my father got together and I was born about a year before they married (very brave for the time in a small community).  Mama always said that she wouldn't get married for my brothers but that she wouldn't marry to spite them either.  So a new family was formed when and only when she was confident it could work.   By and large we managed.

My father said that he had no time for religion - that it cost too much.  Certainly he was not a practising Jew and was very partial to four legged chicken (otherwise known as pork).  His stated ambition was to be the first Jewish Pope, and for the remainder of his life Christmas and Birthday cards were addressed (by all of us) to Pope Dick.

He was a complex man.  He was very bigoted about some things, and was unbelievably and embarrassingly crass about homosexuals and Italians.  And had good friends within both communities.   He talked about pink shirt poofs (and yes I cringe remembering).  One of my more successful presents to him was a burgundy silk shirt.  Which he wore until it was undeniably pink.  And then continued to wear with pleasure.

He was stubborn.  So, so stubborn.  When he had made a pronouncement that was it.  No ifs, no buts.  And he didn't change his mind.  Ever.  He was the master of what was known in the family as the circular argument.  He would state his case as he strode across the lounge room and then, as he exited into the hall coming back into the lounge via the kitchen that was your only chance for your say.  When he reached the lounge he would restate his case.  Repeatedly.  Until the other side gave up or left.

He disliked my Smaller Portion intensely, and banned him from the family home.  So, being my father's daughter I said that if he wasn't welcome I wasn't either.  When we found out that he had cancer and was dying we put the hostilities on hold.  If he had lived nothing would have changed.

He was a fix it man.  Nothing was ever thrown out, just squirrelled away.  He was immensely patient (when he wasn't supremely the opposite).  The lawnmower was a special hate.  One Saturday when it refused to run for him he threw it into the fishpond.  And then spent several weeks restoring it to (mostly) working order.

We always had animals.  I grew up with German Shepherds (father said they were only Alsatians if they had bitten you).  We usually had birds, cats and fish as well.  My brothers had guinea pigs.  He condemned my mother and me for indulging the cats.  And then poked a hole in the fly screen near the breakfast table so that he could push fingers of toast and Vegemite out to the cat on the window sill.  Who had only just gone outside.  He chastised the German Shepherd by beating her with a blade of grass.  She yelped.

He was a big man, with thick clumsy looking fingers.  And he taught himself jewellery making, and produced some very beautiful and delicate pieces.

He had a perverse sense of humour.   While he was teaching himself facetting he used Reich's beer bottles to practise on.  A visitor came to the house and he brought the latest effort in to show her.  She asked what it was 'Reichite' was the reply.  'Ah, yes' she said 'mined in remote South Africa'.  Father finished that piece and set it into a silver ring and sold it to her (at her request).  He never told her that she was wearing a piece of beer bottle.  But chuckled about it.  Often.

He had incredibly bushy eyebrows.  And if bored at dinner parties would plait them as a subtle hint to my mama that he wanted to leave (or wanted the visitors to do so).

When he knew he was dying he got immense pleasure out of ringing the local rabbi and arranging his funeral.  And we are so glad he did - none of us would have known that he wanted a Jewish funeral.

I loved him, I hated him, I miss him.

Sunday 19 June 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.

My theme for this week is quirky public art: and a big thankyou to Paper Chipmunk who made me think of these pieces.  About this time last year, some local artists livened up a dull part of the road between Canberra and Sydney.

Just off the road, on the largely dry floor of Lake George, they installed these fibreglass beauties.

Initially there was a bit of strife because the artists had not got the necessary permission from the farmer whose land they were on, or from local government, but these glitches were soon resolved.  On the day we went out to see them there were a number of other enthusiastic viewers - including a bus load of people from one of the local nursing homes.  And all of us were smiling happily.

However, shortly after that, some anti-social scum climbed the fence and vandalised them.  The artists took them home, repaired them and created a baby zebra, but they are no longer to be seen on that dull stretch of highway.  Humph.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Mostly Reading

In the last little while I have read quite a bit while on the bus or waiting, waiting, waiting at the hospital but not a lot has sunk in.  So I will probably have to reread quite a lot.  Not a problem - I do that anyway.

Two books are worth mentioning though.  I have just completed No Chopsticks Required (My families unexpected year in Shanghai) and it was very close to what Kath Lockett  and her family are going through at the moment.  In 2008 the author, Katrina Beikoff and her partner (now husband), accepted an offer to work on the English-language Shanghai Daily for twelve months.  They took with them their two children (both under 5) and dived in the deep end.  Given their almost complete lack of any sort of preparation (unlike Kath's family) I was very surprised that they didn't drown.  In the time they were there China experienced a massive earthquake killing over 80 000 people, an uprising in Tibet, the Beijing Olympics and the melamine-tainted milk scandal.  And Katrina and her family were way out of their comfort zone on so many levels; language, culture, food, education, politics ...And the list goes on.  And yet, by the end of the year, Katrina was in two minds about returning to Australia or extending their stay for another year.  Hopefully Kath's life will also settle down and become fun again very quickly.

The other book was one I found today.  Our local shopping centre has a cheap book stall which I find it very, very hard to go past despite knowing that our shelves desperately need culling not adding to.  And I am such a good customer that the stallholder usually gives me further discounts on the already cheap books.  Today's find, which I snapped up quickly, was Travelling Light by Tove Jansson.  Jansson (1914 -2001) was a Swedish author and is probably best known as the creator of the Moomintroll series - books for children.  They were first translated into English 60 years ago and have been in print ever since.  And there is lots of Moomin merchandise out there too.  Both Marie and Pia K have Moomin objects I lust after.  I still reread the series every year or so.  However, when Jansson was in her fifties she turned her attention to writing adult fiction.  I have a couple of them which I also reread regularly, but had never heard of this one which was first translated into English last year.  A find!  Which I expect to guzzle over the next few days.  Travelling Light was published by Sort of Books, a publisher which is new to me.  And there were another two books mentioned on the cover that I had not come across.  Treats in store.

Friday 10 June 2011

Finding a New Equilibrium

The smaller portion is home, and happy to be here.  He is a lot weaker than he expected, but home.  And I am not certain which of us is happier.  He is growing his beard back just as fast as he can, despite me telling him that he probably doesn't have the thirty six years needed to get it to pre-shave levels.  I have, repeatedly, told him how much I love to see his chin and cheeks, but at the end of the day it is his face and his decision.  Dammit.

There are so many adjustments that both of us have to make.  For as long as I can remember his preference has been to have only one meal a day, and to make that one very very spicy (think Malaccan Devil's curry which has 40 chillies in it).  Now we have been told it has to be 'little and often'.  And the jury is still out on whether he can have spicy. The diverticulitis that we didn't know he had seems to warrant a high fibre diet.  The colostomy may not cope with it as well.   We are booked in to see a dietitian the week after next and for the moment are working on trial and error.   And I am doing the cooking for both of us because he cannot stand long enough.

The community nurse came to touch base with him yesterday.  For the next month or so he will call in once a week, and the smaller portion has access to a community nurse on a needs basis 24 hours a day.  Reassuring.

Nonetheless his pride, body image and independence have been hit hard.

He has been told that he cannot drive for up to two months, because he would be a danger to himself and others.  Something he is having trouble accepting.  On Wednesday we went to see our local GP.  She ordered a blood test (fortunately they didn't butcher him the way the hospital did).  After that he went to buy some soft pants which didn't gouge into the staple lines, while I did the grocery shopping.  We then caught a cab home.  He was so tired he was spinning out, but assured me that if he had been driving it would have been better.  Huh?  How?

So until he gets the all clear to drive again he will have to rely on me.  Which both hurts his pride and makes him feel guilty.  Which it shouldn't, but as I know only too well, guilt is not rational.  And yes I know that we could shop on line, but I am a vegetarian and prefer to select my fruit and veggies on the basis of how it looks, feels and smells rather than accepting a photo.  And himself has a similar attitude towards his cuts of meat.  So for the next little while I will be doing more walking and more bus travel and he is too weak yet to play either unless it is essential.  We will start gentle walks next week I think.  At the moment a meander around either the front or the back garden exhausts him.

He has also been told that until he sees his surgeon again next month the heaviest weight he can lift is one kilogram.  Which rules out both cats.  Another sadness.  He cannot vacuum or sweep or stretch for fear of damaging internal stitches.

Presumably next month the surgeon will tell him/us a little more about the possibility of reversing the colostomy and give us a timeframe.  I have been doing some reading (thanks JahTeh) but suspect that whatever the risk he will want to go ahead.  Hopefully his next hospital visit will be less dramatic than the last.

We will get there but there is a long road ahead of us still.   And both of us are so very tired.

Sunday 5 June 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.

Yesterday Jahteh posted an amazing preview of The American Gem Trade Association 2011.  I fell seriously in love/lust with a dandelion executed in quartz and diamonds with silver and gold thrown in for good measure. I commented that I had a dandelion clock which has been cast in perspex and I didn't know how it had been done without the dandelion falling apart.  It is unmistakeably a real one and they are just so fragile.  And as an aside who else remembers blowing on the clocks to see what time it is?

Jahteh demanded that I post it on Sunday Selections.  So, here it is, though the photos don't do it justice.

My father had died before I discovered it.  He would not only have loved it, but would have known how it was made.  And my youngest brother and I bought one each with just that thought in mind.

Friday 3 June 2011

Callooh, callay O frabjus day

The smaller portion is almost certainly coming home tomorrow.

When I went up to see him this morning they had taken him off the oxygen, and were testing his capacity to breathe without it.  He walked a complete circuit of the ward and was only very slightly breathless.  He recovered quickly too.  So the physiotherapist gave him a tick.

All the tubes and cannulas have also been removed.  He is eating.  And drinking.

The stoma nurse came to see him this morning and gave him an interim supply of equipment to take home.  She also promised that she would order a month's supply to be delivered.  And is obviously as good as her word because they are here.

A community nurse will come by on Monday to remove the sixty or seventy staples currently holding him together.  And will be on call should he/we need her.

I am really, really happy, but still miffed that they couldn't have done it this way the last time.

He agreed to photos today too.  I was right, he was happier about the bruises on his wrists and arms being captured than his face.  And since I too am camera phobic I didn't push it - but now have a couple of nice photos to cherish while the beard grows back.

Thanks for all the support - it meant a lot.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

A further update

The smaller portion is back on the general wards, where thankfully there is no talk of immediate discharge (yet).  He is still on oxygen, but is eating (tiny, weeny amounts) and sounds and looks a lot better.  I have my fingers crossed that they will keep him until the weekend and that they will take him off the oxygen for at least 12 hours before discharge.

Still not walking.  But sitting up which is a step in the right direction.  The hospital is giving him massive doses of intravenous diuretics to try and dry up the fluid on his lungs (and everywhere else).  And today, the guy in charge of ICU pointed out that it was probably a bit counterproductive to have him on a drip to keep him hydrated and to also be feeding him huge amounts of diuretics.  And he is more than likely right.  So the drip has been removed.  One less tube would have to be a big relief.

At his request I took in a mirror when I went to the hospital this afternoon.  His response:  'Well that's my last shave.'  A pity, now that I have got over the shock I rather like it.  I will take up a camera tomorrow - many people have offered me significant sums of money for a clean-shaven photo.

Reposted at the excellent suggestion of Ampersand Duck

I am also told that his nephews (late teens, early twenties) would really, really like photos of the collapsed veins, the multiplicity of bruises and the staples holding his tummy together.  And I suspect the smaller portion would be happier sharing those photos than the ones of his unbearded visage.

He made me snort yesterday by saying that he had to grow his beard back to match his passport.  Osama Bin Smaller Portion come on down.  He had been growing it since 1974 or 75 and it was a bushy horror (or a luxuriant growth depending on your viewpoint).