Life Notes 11

February 1, 2023 expanded

It seems I had inexplicably lost the entry for January 30 and the last two days’ posts are a bit bunched up and the spacing seems unfixable, so I’ve decided to start a new post in the hope that whatever problem exists will sort itself out. I went back and rewrote January 30 from memory but I’m sure I must have said something else so profound that it would echo through the ages, which at this point is lost.

Today I had a home appointment with a My Aged Care operative who rubbed me up the wrong way at the outset by suggesting that I needed to put John into a home because: ‘you only get one life and he’s just going to get worse over time’. This was after: ‘I had to step over a plant to get in here’, later investigations proved that it was one single Agapanthus head that had fallen over the path. Anyway I’ve decided it would have been better not to have her here at all, but you live and learn. John has a haematologist’s appointment with Nada soon but today they rang to say she’s still too unwell with long Covid and hopes to be back in March, they’ve been saying next month since August. So we have a Zoom with a different doc which that saves me the drive into town anyway.

February 2, 2023

This morning I headed into the city on the bus for the protest at Pell’s memorial service. I have never in my life seen so many police in the one place, streets blocked off and shoulder- to- shoulder cops all around the cathedral, both sides of the road lined with vehicles. I had pre-cut plenty of ribbons to go on the fences but my first attempt was thwarted by cathedral security. However I managed to find a spot on the inside of the queue of people heading into the cathedral and luckily they were mild-mannered folk, although one man of Middle Eastern appearance objected, but the police sided with me. A young woman approached and asked what I was doing and why and, apparently satisfied with the answers, she announced that she was a journalist and requested a photograph. During the protest in Hyde Park somewhat later she came up again and gave me her name, phone number and email address so then I knew she was from the BBC. When I got home I looked up Apple News and her article was the first one on top of the list, including the photo she had taken. The speeches at the rally were interesting and gave some personal details about Pell and Cardinal Gilroy that I won’t discuss here, considering Australia’s strict libel laws. When we marched along College St most of the people sitting outdoors ignored us but some of the Lebs went wild, as is their want. Police had to restrain a few of them who would have gladly belted us to kingdom come. All in all we made our point and I was very glad that I went.

So to the watercolour class last night….. The building faces west and it was early evening on a fairly hot day. I tried the door at 6.45 but it was locked, however the teacher was inside. A few others did the same but then we repaired around the corner into the shade and at exactly 7pm she unlocked the building, No welcome, just ‘find yourself a seat’. Not looking good so far. There were 12 students, 6 returning and 6 newbies. Firstly she gave the old hands a photo each and they were instructed to paint that ocean scene. Then to us: despite having bought umpteen colours as requested she said that we only need 2 blues, 2 reds and 2 yellows and will mix all other colours from them. We then used the very expensive paper to paint a colour wheel (which could have usefully been done on the back of an envelope). She showed us some exercises she had set in the past and they were all very realistic, often figures of people, not at all the style I’m trying to learn. As tactfully as possible I suggested that I presumed she taught all different styles and she replied firmly: ‘No, I only paint realistic pictures and that’s what I teach’. So I am stuffed, having already paid for 8 weeks. Now I can only hope that some techniques applicable to this realism will be useful in what I want to do, simply to paint as beautifully and sensitively as my friend Di.

February 3, 2023

Sometimes you start to read a book and decide straight away that you have a lot in common with the author, in this case it was the reverse. Heather Rose’s ‘nothing bad ever happens here’ left me rolling my eyes in every chapter, but I persevered to see if things changed closer to the end. In some ways the chapters seemed like separate essays and one near the conclusion, where she walks a remote trail in Tasmania with her son, was interesting. Another chapter, about her chronic pain, again seemed like an essay unrelated to the chapters before and after. Her constant pain from ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disease, is barely mentioned through the book and then there’s a whole chapter on it. But back to the eye-rolling. After a period in a Buddhist monastery she relates that she can ‘suddenly eat whatever I want…that I can speak with people…that I do not have to wake at 3 am to meditate or chant…that I can drink beer…wear whatever I like’. Yes, that’s why the rest of us are not living in a monastery. Before going to an American Indian sweat lodge she buys a new dress ‘long and tie-dyed’, well of course it was. Back in Australia she goes ‘sun dancing’ exposing herself to 48 degree heat in Central Australia: ‘to survive, some part of me has to leave my body’. Don’t try this people, the part that leaves may very well be your mortality. ‘Of the 42 people there, 12 of us lose our faculties for days or of us ends up in the psychiatric ward of the Alice Springs hospital. Some of us go mad years later’. Yes well, what can I say? Apart from the fact that a psychiatric assessment may have been warranted before setting out. Being a pedant, I want to criticise the misuse of the word ‘enervating’  when she means its opposite, but even though a good editor would have picked that up, it is such a small thing compared to the enervating effect this book had on me.

It occurred to me that yesterday I was filmed close up by a huge video camera operated by two people and it had on the top in navy blue AFP, which at the time I assumed was some news outlet that I’d never heard of. But on the news last night in an unrelated article I saw the logo of the Australian Federal Police and….kerching, they were one and the same. It’s just like the old Vietnam protest days all over again, glad to see a new generation hard at work, though I am hoping that they got some good footage of the febrile Lebs across the road, who were much more of a worry I’d say.

Speaking of irksome acronyms, this morning I had an email telling me that I’d have a visit from APM Assessment Services on February 1 and giving me a list of things I need to assemble for their inspection eg Medicare and pension cards, home care documents etc. There were also three videos explaining what would happen and why, none of which I’ve watched as it’s all past tense now. Firstly the person came two days before the email, secondly I collated no documents and was not asked for any and thirdly, who the hell is APM? Further research discovered that they are a multi-national company who ‘undertake My Aged Care Home Support Assessments on behalf of the Australian Government’, something brought in by Tony Abbott in 2015 apparently. When John was first assessed years ago we had a public servant who was endlessly helpful, but clearly things have changed and this explains her disagreeable comments. Interestingly they have not been allowed to take that role in Victoria or WA, both with Labor governments. Without the benefit of getting the email before the visit, I had no idea that I was dealing with a company and not a government official and apart from giving her name there was no introduction, business card or paperwork to allow me to find that out. I’ll be more wary about who I let into the house next time.

February 4, 2023

Planning to barbecue some corn as part of dinner, my recipe book says it is more ‘corny’ if barbecued in its husk so I’m trying it out, though I’m doubtful I’ll pick the difference. It is part of a Mexican salad with avocado and other things and it has a chili mayonnaise dressing. I opened a jar of jalapeno chillies as apparently they are the closest to the poblano ones in the recipe, and supposedly mild, but these are very hot so I will just use my normal ones out of the garden.

I’m feeling sorry for the poor old minks. Firstly they were bred for their beautiful fur and killed en masse with carbon monoxide, then they caught, and formed a reservoir for, Covid19 and in Denmark alone 17 million were killed. Now they’ve caught jolly bird flu H5N1 and 50,000 minks have been killed in Spain as a result. It may have marked the first known case of mammal-to-mammal transmission of this deadly virus. Avian influenza has a near 100 percent mortality rate in birds and while mammals apart from minks aren’t catching the virus at the same rate as birds, it’s still a serious problem. Bird flu has a global mortality rate of greater than 50 percent for humans so I won’t be cuddling a mink any time soon. The two books which forecast many of our problems at the moment I read decades ago, The Coming Plague and The Population Bomb, but I don’t hear anyone praising the authors’ foresight. Some books from the 1980s and 1990s forewarned about climate change but it was much earlier than that when scientists first began discussing the issue. We are slow learners, especially if we think we’ll be disadvantaged, we are like Horatio Nelson when he said ‘I see no ships’, looking at the evidence with a blind eye.

I’ve had a few emails and texts from people who saw the BBC article and every one has been congratulatory, but then I realised that anyone who doesn’t approve wouldn’t call so it means nothing at all. However Stephen was very pleased that I’d hung green ribbons because of his Irish heritage, so that’s the only person I need to worry about.

February 5, 2023

I am wondering how on earth Facebook has worked out what sort of clothes I like? I’ve never once bought a piece of clothing online, but a couple of companies are now constantly putting ads on my Facey and the clothes are divine, just my taste, and cheap to boot. I met a woman a while back whose clothes always fitted perfectly. Asking who her tailor was I got the reply: ‘I buy everything cheaply online, mostly from China, two sizes too big, then I take them to an alteration place and get them adjusted to fit’. I am itching to try that idea but as I’m still on a ‘buy no new clothes’ bender the ads are deeply frustrating. Stop before I weaken people.

I had another attack at some boxes in storage today and managed to scrounge some Singer sewing machine accessories and manual, an antique cut throat razor, an antique set of steak knives never used, a darning mushroom and two boxes of genealogy computer disks, never used. All are now up for sale on eBay. John came down with me and wanted to cut back a small branch, so I sent him to the garage for secateurs to do the job. Sadly both sets are missing from their usual place, apparently since we were both cutting a few things back in the front yard and he offered to put them away. A search of the garage and elsewhere has proved fruitless so we now have no secateurs at all, at least for now.

In clean-up mode I finally got around to trying out the Planet Ark recycling service at Baulko. Even though I downloaded the app months ago I’ve been reluctant to go there in case I can’t work out how to use it. I had no reason to be concerned, it’s as easy as, and there were plenty of people there to help me out, even offering to let me go first with my miserable seven bottles against their trolley or van full. Either people are besotted with soft drinks or else they are scrounging the bins. By the time I got home the 70 cents was deposited into my account, so now I can start taking up the many boxes under the house. They are all John’s kombucha bottles as neither of us drink any sort of pop. I really dislike his kombucha, though it’s not quite as disgusting as the Bambu he drinks daily. I don’t fare well in the drinks department, disliking many more beverages than foods. Coffee, all chocolate drinks, kombucha, whisky, gin, vodka, Ouzo, Sambuca, Pernod, absinthe, limiting my choices to tea and milk in the hot drink department. I well remember going with a group for an evening meeting and they ordered, in fits of laughter, 12 cappuccinos and a milk shake.

February 6, 2023

Lovely time at Boy Charlton Pool today while John was at Nelune. I think I will keep going there while ever the weather holds out. I parked as usual at Woolloomooloo and then walked to the pool, the walk was a lovely part of the occasion and much easier than driving back to town and then getting parking near the gallery. The water was divine, with views to match and a little cafe to have a snack afterwards. It’s called Oh Boy and is new as the old one fell over during Covid, however the staff were seriously wanting, though trying hard. Perhaps Oh Dear would have been a better name than Oh Boy. I’m reluctant to give them a bad review as I think the place is understaffed but there’s certainly no chef judging by what I saw coming out of the kitchen. Better to stick to a milkshake and enjoy the view. Pity as it’s a perfect spot for a beautiful lunch.

I got a thoughtful call this afternoon from Therese at the ACAT team who valiantly attempted to get John’s package through more quickly. She just wanted to make sure that our needs were met by the new package and reminded me to contact them again if that ceases to be the case. She also recommending counselling for me, something I don’t intend to take up, but I thanked her without mentioning that fact. I can’t imagine getting a follow up call from that bloody APM woman who came the other day.

I’ve been reading How to Catch a Killer by Katherine Ramsland, the famous professor at  DeSales University. She teaches forensic psychology, focusing on extreme offenders and as she has written 69 books on related topics, I was expecting more than a long list of serial killers and their crimes, something I could have Googled. Many of these people live on my bookshelves and much has been written about them, so I was expecting more of the why and less of the what, but sadly no. However it is fair to say that having them all in the one place enabled me to appreciate once again the things that they have in common: overwhelmingly male, many having done military service, though not necessarily in conflict zones. A large number were adopted and those who weren’t come from homes where the parents separated when the child was young or else they stayed together in a violent or abusive relationship. Many were farmed out as children to drunken or abusive grandparents or other relatives. So it seems that the same circumstances that produce borderline personality disorder sets up children for the risk of becoming serial killers. Perhaps they are extreme versions of borderline personality? But you would never glean any of that from this book which is simply an extended list of facts without much analysis.

February 7, 2023

So the balloon came crashing down after a missile strike (remind me how much missiles cost again? oh I looked it up, an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile is about $400,000, not as much as I was expecting). Considering that in the 1970s I read that American spy satellites could read something the size of a number plate over the entire world, I wonder if this response just comes down to PR and target practice. That fact about the number plates was in the context of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland when the Brits got the US to track IRA cars by number plate so collaborators with the IRA could be identified. Presumably by now it’s the size of a stamp. In 1998, a technical malfunction meant a Canadian research balloon accidentally drifted across towards Norway before finally landing on Finland’s Mariehamn Island. Panic? Non. Missiles? Non. But of course the Scandis are a very different breed of human.

I’ve gone back to my Cormac McCarthy book, but I’m still struggling. But how can you put aside a book which has lines like: ‘he watched the lights moving along the causeway like the slow cellular crawl of waterdrops on a wire’? or this about an underwater view of a plane crash: ‘The people sitting in their seats, their hair floating. Their mouths open, their eyes devoid of speculation.’ I can see that image so clearly. So I will keep going in the hope of reading memorable lines like these even if at the moment I don’t know what the hell is going on.

Talking of mysteries, I’ve just been on a hunt for the person who made John’s dentures, such is the way of my life these days. When we were at Sue’s another tooth fell out, this time at the front so I had a battle royal getting him in to the public dentist, though I succeeded in the end. But after he gets the rest of the tooth removed (surgery possibly?) he will need new dentures to include that tooth. Back in the mid 2000s he had dentures made which were totally useless and as they were plastic they weren’t adjustable, so he just threw them out and went elsewhere. The second chap was fabulous, making them quickly and then adjusting them over weeks, they were metal based so easy to alter till they were perfect. But of course John has no idea who the chap was or where. I sort of thought Chatswood and started ringing around, finally finding the helpful Nikki who got into the records and discovered that it was her boss David Rozen who did the teeth. But then I had to make sure he was the good one and not the dodgy one (41 reviews of the practice, all 5 stars, made me think I’d got it right) and yes he made them largely in metal. Phew, now we just need to get the dentist out of the way on Thursday and we’ll head to the splendid Dr. Rozen.

This morning I went to Pine Coffee and Tea to get some of my favourite smoky Russian Caravan tea and also found some very coarse sugar crystals that I’ve been trying to source to pop on top of cakes or buns, recipes show them but I never see them for sale. Also they have very fine filters to put into a teapot for particularly small leaf teas, of which I have one that was gifted to me, but it comes through the strainers I’ve got so it tends not to get used. I will take the teapot up to them and get the right size that fits inside the pot. Next to the Sallies where I dispensed with a dress and a vase, but came away with four rolls of loo paper, two tubes of toothpaste (they always have some new stuff at the Dural one) and a 1000 piece jigsaw for John. He was playing with one that Sue had going, but had said before that he can’t do jigsaws any more, so we’ll see. It’s a scene of Santorini, brand new and unopened, $4. Pay dirt.

February 8, 2023

Gosh I didn’t think I’d ever give a Cormac McCarthy book two stars, but there it is. After finishing The Passenger I needed to read some other (smarter) reviewers to discover that it was actually about what I thought it was about. Clearly I am not smart enough for this book. I did love the other one I’ve just finished though, a yellowed 1968 copy of Philby: The Spy Who Betrayed a Generation. I loved this detailed account, not just of the actual spying and capture, but of the background story. Well stories actually, because the authors go into great detail about Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean as well as Philby, covering their interrelationships and backgrounds. It is as good as the best spy thriller, though if it were a novel we would all be saying that MI6 could never have ignored the suspicions about Philby’s guilt for so many years, disregarding their sister agency MI5 who were repeatedly telling them that he was spying for the Russians. Fascinating stuff and a lesson to the Brits: the assumption that choosing your spies almost entirely from the upper echelons of society guaranteed loyalty was never a smart idea.

I’ve just been photographing three pieces of jewellery and offering them to Bargain Hunt and Barsbys auctions for appraisal. A solid opal brooch set in gold, opal earrings also gold (neither of which I’ll ever wear as I don’t do gold) and a chunky Georg Jensen 1960s silver bracelet which I love, but have almost lost twice when the catch came undone unexpectedly. But now Bargain Hunt has replied and they weren’t keen to suggest a reserve, so I think I will wait for Barsbys. If they feel the same way I may eBay them to have more control of the prices, particularly as old Jensen pieces are super popular these days, some rarer ones selling in the thousands. I had an old darning mushroom and darning egg on eBay and it was spied and commented on by my customer and now friend Antonia in Melbourne so I’ve taken the ad down and will pack them up and gift them to her. She’s a good stick.

What can anyone say about the massive Middle Eastern earthquake, particularly after talking about jewellery? Not only those who’ve lost loved ones, but the rescuers, will surely be damaged by this for the rest of their lives. I can’t even imagine the state of a person’s body in a collapsed high rise building. I guess the only feature that slightly eases the situation is the fact that it is a natural occurrence and not deliberately caused by anyone, something that those in collapsed buildings in Ukraine must surely be more pained by. Not much of a consolation though.

February 9, 2023

A bit of a frustrating trip to RNS for John’s appointment at the public dentist. He saw a lovely woman who did X-rays and said that what’s left of his front tooth has to come out, which we knew. She was very thorough and I thought we were home and hosed, but then when she went to do an appointment for the extraction she saw John’s address on his pension card and said that we have to ‘get that changed back to Lane Cove’ otherwise we can’t go any further. So I’m flummoxed about what to do, Bob’s away till next week so I can’t discuss it with him. Thinking, thinking, waiting for a lightning bolt.

Then we went to Barsby’s Auctions and I announced: ‘I have an appointment with Alex, she knows I’m coming’ which produced a puzzled look on the face of the young man I was dealing with. When Alex with a beard arrived to meet me I understood why. Funny how you make assumptions and then it tips the applecart briefly when the assumption proves wrong. But what a wonderful Alex he turned out to be! His family own the Mayfair jewellers G. J. Dennis, his father and brother both high-end silversmiths and goldsmiths. He showed me photos of the FA cup, many other important trophies, a brooch made for Camilla Parker-Bowles and lots more. They make and repair jewellery for the royal family. He took one look at my Georg Jensen bracelet, declared it was made in the 60s, designed by Ibe Delquist and gave me a dissertation on Jensen jewellery and its designers. How do you know all of that off the top of your head? I asked. I wrote a book on Jensen, he replied. Enough said. So the bracelet, which I almost lost when it fell off while we were with Mary and David recently, is listed for sale with an estimate of $650 to $1200 but may go higher. I was also happy with the estimate of $150 to $300 on my opal brooch, however the opal earrings, while also 1960s and good quality, are plated so they didn’t pass muster.

Last night’s painting class was somewhat the same and somewhat different to last week’s. Same: The door opened at 7 pm, not a minute before. No chatting, just go in and set up. End of night is 9 pm, doesn’t matter if you are half way through doing something, as I was, you are out the door. I carried a palette of wet paint to the car but it spilled over and mixed the colours together, hugely frustrating. I’ve decided to redo all the work we did at class so I can make a better job of it without time pressure. Different: I did try to adapt to the situation as it is and to absorb as much as possible, even though the style and copying photos isn’t what I was hoping for when I signed up. I did learn a bit and I’m persevering to try to get the most benefit possible.

Hawkesbury Library is offering a course in Eco-Dyeing, at least I think that’s what it is. It was advertised as Eco-Dying and that’s what caught my eye, thinking that it was ‘weave your own casket’ or ‘paint your own coffin’, but no. It turns out to be printing on paper or fabric using the natural dyes of leaves and flowers, right up my alley. So I will organise a carer and then book in, a full day on February 25.

February 10, 2023

Kristy informs me that the cost of a carer on Saturdays is $86.55 an hour, as against the usual $60.05, so although John’s package would cover it, it seems a profligate use of his funds to go to the workshop . However the alternative is either not going or else asking someone to take him for the day, neither option appeals, so I’m thinking.

I’m thinking also that the option requested by the dentist yesterday, to ‘get the address changed back to Lane Cove’ on his pension card is a bad move as it looks dodgy, even though ultimately it’s even stevens as the government is paying his dental bill whether we go to RNS or wait on the list at Westmead, possibly for months if not years. I will have a chat to my private dentist and see what John’s looking at in terms of the cost to at least get the extraction done. Currently his bank balance is $17.82, but his pension is due tomorrow, bless.

Shopping this morning I wanted to buy corn chips to do a dish for dinner tonight but couldn’t find the Mission brand I prefer (answer from the staff, oh they are in the Mexican section, not the chip section). Then to the soy sauce department where there was absolute rows of different permutations of soy sauce, but not the Kikkoman brand I wanted (answer from the staff, oh it’s in the Japanese section). Clearly I need a map of the store with a key for each brand, but John plods patiently behind me with the trolley while I read descriptions, agonise over brands and try to find clandestine labels. Last night we watched You Can’t Ask That, a programme we usually ignore but it was on dementia. One man made me laugh, he has Lewy Body Dementia, probably the worst one, as it involves hallucinations. He regularly sees crocodiles in the loungeroom so when he saw a donkey in the backyard he ignored it, assuming it was more of the same. That is until his wife came out and asked: why is that donkey in the backyard? He got LBD at the age of 42, what a tragedy. All of the folks interviewed commented that losing their licence had a big effect on them, mentally and practically. There were profound differences in their symptoms and limitations.

I have avoided unpacking the stainless steel railing for the front steps that was delivered last week, as I am so unmechanical that I know I won’t understand it. I am reluctant to ask Arvind for help unless I have it all laid out in the place it needs to go and he only needs to do the screwing in. I will tackle it, but not for the time being. Dentists and soy sauce have used up all of my available mental assets for today, wimp that I am.

February 11, 2023

I was right about not understanding the instructions for the railing and I’ve sadly discovered that John is now worse at these things than I am. Too hot today to bother Arvind so I have emailed the company telling them that I am as dumb as a doorknob and can’t work it out. The handrail will have to wait. Maybe I need to hire someone who knows what they are doing, which would of course mean that I made the wrong decision on paying for it myself, as if I’d gone through Wendy’s they would have covered a handyman too. But I baulked at wasting $330 of government money on an OT to say that an 81 year old demented man needs a handrail. I know, I know, it’s all part of the paperwork, but still.

Thankfully the farmer’s markets were on again today so I can get inspired with cooking (Nagi’s Island Bliss Prawn Salad with Coconut Lime Dressing for dinner tonight). Apart from reading it seems to be the only source of joy for me at the moment. I forgot that I needed one lonely apple for the recipe but Mala next door had one so I didn’t have to go out again. I swapped her two tomatoes, which seemed fair. Jane and Boris came last Saturday so John spent all morning today (exaggeration, but I can’t help it) asking about when they are arriving. No that was last week, no it’s not today, no look in your diary, just NO.

The Briars at Bowral must be having a bad week as they sent an email offering 2 nights’ accommodation, 2 breakfasts, a gift and a bottle of wine for booking any nights from tomorrow to Thursday for $329 all up. I grabbed the diary in anticipation but medical appointments preclude every bloody day. I’m consoling myself with the fact that the Southern Highlands needs cooler weather, fog, rain, snow even. I might get just off their mailing list in silent protest.

Just finished reading This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay, made up largely of diaries he kept during his training as an NHS doctor. At first I thought it was pretty flippant and irreverent (it is) but he grew on me and it is obvious that his sense of humour is his way of coping with appalling hours, low pay, massive responsibility and the anxiety that comes with having a big heart and fearing that at any moment you may do someone harm. Picked up two more non-fiction books yesterday so I’m looking forward to getting into Raina MacIntyre’s book on pandemics and biosecurity. It has become obvious that the advice to government about the ‘short and sharp’ Covid surge over Christmas was a pot of wishful thinking, giving the government what it wanted to hear perhaps. Paul Kelly didn’t convince me back then and as a result I will take his words with more than a pinch of sodium chloride in future.

February 12, 2023

I got cross with John again this morning and I have to stop before it becomes the usual. I explained that I wanted an hour to watch Insiders, for the first time this year, but 10 minutes in I hear sawing coming from the kitchen and get up to find him cutting off the tops off milk bottles with my good Global knife, the best way to blunt a sharp knife is to cut plastic. So I went off about my sacred hour and using my best knife to cut milk cartons for no explained purpose. Turned off the telly and gave up on seeing Jim Chalmers’ interview. Later I asked if he still wanted the half cartons and the reply was: ‘I don’t know, what are they for?’ Note: Patience (noun) = the ability to wait calmly; if you have patience, you are able to stay calm and not get annoyed, for example when something takes a long time, or when someone is not doing what you want them to do. Where do I go to buy a packet of that stuff?

I put the abandoned telly time to good use and photographed four pieces of jewellery to send to my new mate Alex at Barsbys. A very large sized ring with sapphires and diamonds, another with an old cut diamond and rubies, a Victorian lava cameo ring with an intaglio unicorn and a gold necklace with a jade pendant replete with a pearl to one side and a Chinese character to the other. Pity that I don’t wear yellow gold as some of the rings are decent stones and all have age. I so miss the thrill of auctions, but that’s all in the past now. I well remember thinking I would bid on a small page size piece of calligraphy in Arabic if it went for $100 or so, within the estimate, but two foreign phone bidders from Malaysia pushed it up to over $10,000 very quickly. It was an antique page of the Koran which I’m guessing is now in the wonderful Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur. Those were the days.

The leftover prawn salad from last night made an absolutely delicious lunch today, the dressing is a keeper with garlic, ginger, lemon and fish sauce in a coconut cream base, making it good enough to drink. John of course had forgotten that we had it last night and thought it was just a plain green salad, until he delightedly announced: ‘I found a prawn!’ He has also forgotten that he doesn’t eat prawns ‘because they are bottom feeders’ and I don’t intend to remind him as it opens up the menu to lots of delicious meals. At this stage of the game, from a health point of view, I doubt that it matters much what we eat.

February 13, 2023

Decided that we each needed some time away from home so we went to see The Whale at Castle Hill. I am still reeling from it. I hadn’t even realised that it was a Darren Aronofsky film or I would have been there on day one. If that isn’t Oscar material I’ll eat my ticket. Apart from the main character Charlie, I just loved Liz, his friend and nurse. I don’t want to write a spoiler, and anyway if I did write more I would start crying again and seeing John’s relative from Narromine just rang to say she’d be here in an hour, it wouldn’t be a good look.

Yesterday Arvind came over and looked at the handrail, he thinks that between the three of us it’s a snack to put up, so the search for a handyman is off. Then I discovered accidentally that the workshop I want to go to is March 25, not February 25, so the search for a carer is also off, at least temporarily. Thank goodness for small mercies.

The jewellery auctioneer replied to my photos that all four items are saleable and the lava cameo ‘will do great things’ so, seeing we have another hospital appointment tomorrow, I will take them over to him if he has free time. Often in the shop I was forced to underprice things just to get turnover, while consigned items had to go for the agreed prices as often the consignee wouldn’t budge, hence my preference to own everything.

I’ve been thinking about all the sympathy I wasted on Rachelle Miller (not to mention my wasted share of the government payout that she got). After watching her at the Robodebt Inquiry all commiseration for her circumstance ran down the gurgler. Similarly with the people who climbed to successes on the back of their Whitlam-funded free education and then cut it off to all those who came after them. The appalling Clarence Thomas in the US had the benefit of a Jesuit school, taken in as part of a black recruitment programme, then he did law at Yale on a programme for minorities, but turned his back on his people and his class once he got where he was going, sadly ending up as a Supreme Court judge always backing the wrong team. How did a judge with barely a year of experience in the judiciary get nominated, never mind elected? How did a judge accumulate assets of over $10 million? A cynic could say that it’s the price of going over to the dark side. Sadly it seems that riches will almost always win over principle.

February 14, 2023

Off to RNS again today and while John was down having his yearly heart ultrasound (to check the stents and replaced valve) I went back to the dentist to see if I could at least persuade them to share his x-rays, but nah, no can do she says. I pointed out that they are part of his medical record and that too many x-rays are not a good idea, but all I got was a phone number for the patient advocate, Julie. I raced back in time to go in with John to see his cardiologist Gemma who was sporting a buzz cut. It turns out John’s tests are fine but Gemma has breast cancer and is undergoing chemo, while still working. Gosh, Gemma with cancer and Nada with long Covid. I don’t have the puff to deal with the dentist issue again today but Julie sounds like a good start. Then on to see Alex at Barsby’s and he was happy to take my pieces and of course was full of information about them. The lava cameo ring is in his opinion obsidian, which occurs when lava cools rapidly at the edges of a lava flow or during sudden contact with water or air, he could tell this by the slight shine versus the matte finish of straight lava. Of course, silly me. The ‘jade’ pendant seems to be Peking glass, though still valuable, but apart from those two details my descriptions were accurate. I held back the diamond and ruby ring to wear for a bit and I will give it to him next sale next time. From there to Oriental and Continental Foods at Artarmon where I really could go bananas with a credit card. I told the owner that one day I’ll get lucky and win the prize to fill my trolley for free. I was able to get lots of goodies that are unobtainable in the usual shops, like frozen peeled broad beans, canned kippers, sweet chestnut puree and Gochujang, that delicious red chili paste which is a savoury, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment popular in Korean cooking but adaptable to other cuisines. Apparently the ingredients are gochu-garu, glutinous rice, meju powder, yeotgireum and salt, none of which means anything to me, apart from the salt, but it tastes great and with a bit of garlic it can double for sriracha. Stocked up on other goodies too, like fish stock cubes for when I run out of prawn heads, risoni pasta and preserved lemons. Bliss.

The rain is increasing my optimism by the minute, feeding off John’s natural optimism isn’t working lately but rain always bucks me up. I redid my painting work from last class as it was rushed and wrong, hopefully she will okay this version. Not that she refused to accept the last one, but said if you never get it wrong you don’t learn anything, which is pretty much saying the same thing.

Yesterday we got a surprise visit from John’s first cousin Madeleine from Narromine. She at 80 next month is a force of nature, having driven down here for a week or two to visit friends, she found her way here with a malfunctioning satnav, talked non-stop and complained that after bringing her boogie board all this way, no one wants to go surfing with her. She still works, as a nurse at the gaol, lives alone on her property, still rides her horses ‘I’ve had to rig up a pulley system to put the saddle on’, is writing a book and if I’d asked her to put up the handrail I’m sure she would have done that easily. I should introduce her to Michelle.

February 15, 2023

Wow, what a morning. Louis sent me a YouTube link to the talk he gave at a conference in Sydney a little while ago. It blew me away in that all of the ancients he quoted live on my bookshelves, but in the 15 plus years that I’ve known him he has never mentioned anything remotely philosophical, so it would never had occurred to me to discuss anything like that. He is certainly quiet and shy but in this case the ‘still waters run deep’ saying certainly applies. I must admit that I cries while watching it as it reminded me of the discussions John and I had regularly when we first met and for years after. How things have changed, now it’s: do we need to water? do you have any washing? would you like trout for dinner? This video led me to look for my trusty Seneca, that beaten up little book which has been with me over 50 years and is my guide to life, but somehow it is missing. I am trying to be Stoic about its peculiar disappearance, but if it isn’t found soon I will need to replace it for sure, though I hope that won’t be necessary. I am such a proud ma-in-law today but conscious that given the circumstances of our lives, I doubt that we’ll ever sit down and discuss these ideas.

Wow number two: I watched the beginning of the ‘Parliamentary Inquiry into Allegations of Impropriety Against Agents of the Hills Shire Council and Property Developers in the Region’ and what a beginning it was. Businessman Frits Mare told the inquiry that he was approached by Jean-Claude Perrottet, along with Christian Ellis, son of a Hills Shire Councillor, and asked for a $50,000 contribution to help unseat Alex Hawke. All happy Liberals here, but from different factions. The fact that both Perrottets and both Ellises are in hiding, with a hope of dodging the summonses, is enough to suggest that there is truth in at least some of the allegations. The fact that accused developer Jean Nassif is hiding in ‘a remote part of Lebanon’ is no coincidence. Here’s hoping that the inquiry is able to flush some of this scum out of the Hills altogether. For reasons that escape me the papers haven’t featured this evidence, at least so far.

Just had John’s appointment with the lymphoma specialist via telehealth, and oh that is so much easier. His blood tests and lack of symptoms indicate that he’s still in remission, unlike his regular doctor Nada whose long Covid persists. Her replacement may have been a 15 year old on work experience judging by her looks, but she was absolutely delightful and very professional. Great to get his check-ups over before mine begin.

February 16, 2023

Finally got on to Julie, the patient advocate at RNSH, and wow was she good! I explained about the problem with getting John’s X-rays from the dental people and she asked me to hang on while she rang the clinical director of the department. I thought she was just going in to bat for the X-rays but she came back quickly to say that this ‘series of treatment’ will be completed at RNS and can we make his next appointment now? So it’s not just getting the tooth out, it is the fillings she recommended as well. It’s not what you know but who you know and I’m so glad to know Julie now. The only downside is that that dentist is part time and only works on days when John is at care, but we’ll just have to apologise for that to the day care people.

Had lunch with Carol which was delightful as always, a great escape from the varied  restrictions on both our lives. I came home feeling much lighter and unencumbered by the usual stresses. Missed Michelle Byrne at the Hills Inquiry but will be able to catch up with it once the transcript is published in a day or two. The committee has cleverly adjourned to February 23, two days after the next Hills council meeting which the missing councillor Ellis is due to attend, so she either has to come out of hiding or miss both events. Rats, I’m seeing the surgeon that day so the transcript will have to do, however the masochist in me likes to watch and it is so much easier to tell truth from lies if you are eye-balling the person.

Millie’s birthday this year is at some sort of kids function place and the family party is the following day so I am freed from the full fondant decorated cake and I think I’ll do a carrot hummingbird one, with cream cheese icing. Much easier and less fraught. I have loved doing the heavily decorated cakes each year but I do find it nerve-racking in advance wondering how it will turn out.

February 17, 2023

Sue called in unexpectedly while John was off with Greg, his usual Wednesday outing being delayed due to medical stuff. I was having a painting day as somehow whatever I paint at class is awful so I redo it in peace at home, after which it is a bit less awful. I find the environment at class rushed and a bit stressful but maybe that’s just me as everyone else seems to cope with it. Oddly I’ve been deluged with offers of painting classes on Facebook, all watercolour, some online and some in person, which is very, very weird as I’ve never accessed anything like that online. Yesterday I had a dozen posts in the first few minutes of checking my page.

Briefly: 1. President Biden looks to me like someone with incipient Parkinson’s. 2. Perrottet will lose the election. 3. Charlie Teo was saying something often said by doctors: that ‘a brain tumour is the best fucking way to die’ (perhaps they say it without the cursing, but still). Brain tumour patients often tend to sleep themselves away and this comment can’t be regarded as an unusual one, I’ve certainly heard it before. Let’s stick to the warranted criticisms and not resort to sillyness. 4. I’m sick and tired of people falling over themselves to insist that we are at imminent risk of invasion by China. I feel as if I’m back in time, just replacing whoever we were hating last time with the new enemy, enough. 5. Do NOT offer to buy a friend or relative a balloon ride when they are visiting the US.

So Biden has said that the intelligence community’s current assessment is that the three objects recently shot down were “most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.” Now I suppose the government will need to reimburse the owners of these perfectly innocent airborne items, at least they should be paying considering they were nothing threatening or even unusual. It’s just part of the current China hysteria, shall we discuss how many countries China has invaded in the last 50 years compared to the US? That question always shuts down the debate doesn’t it. It won’t surprise me at all if yum cha restaurants become frowned on pretty soon if this madness continues. Stock up on five spice and oyster sauce people and have a covert meal at home.

February 18, 2023

Last night I finished reading Elliot Perlman’s The Street Sweeper, a book where I decided to forgive the coincidences that occur in order to just wallow in the narrative. It dives deep into both the Holocaust and the injustices of America’s treatment of its black population, bringing together both of these major stories of the 20th century. These two heinous episodes were major influences on my youthful understanding of racism and injustice and the dangers of both in a population, particularly when combined with sympathetic political regimes. Perlman lays out the intergenerational effects of both, in a 544 page epic that won’t be easily forgotten. I am committed to newspapers tonight as I can’t imagine starting something else until it has stopped washing over me.

It seems that the missing Perrottets are in deep cover, but surely someone knows where they are and can make a surreptitious phone call. I can’t believe there would be many people who would countenance their behaviour so where are the curtain-twitchers, snoops and informers when you need them? Paparazzi do your thing! I penned a line to the SMH on the matter: “May I suggest a solution to the problem of the mislaid Perrottets? Their brother the Premier could pretend that there is a serious health issue with someone in the family and ring his brothers. When they answer he could inform them of the subpoenas outstanding for their attendance at the Hills Council Inquiry and at the same time ask why they have ceased reading newspapers, watching television and listening to the radio. Because surely they must be completely oblivious to the proceedings.” No publication, but half the fun is in the writing.

Today is one of those days when I can justify being indoors quite easily, 38 degrees outside but I don’t have to consider what time it would be reasonable to start the aircon as John is a master of the handset these days, sneakily turning it on and lowering my usual temperature until I suddenly realise that the thing is pushing out arctic air, then I just as sneakily turn it up, if not off. Apart from doing some watering early I have devoted time today to clearing the decks, my desk, dressing table, vanity etc, dealing with all the things I was gunna attend to when I got time, that time is now. Too hot for baking so that’s out, therefore I will get to the papers earlier rather than later. Life’s good.

February 19, 2023

Unfortunately the manager of the new care home that Kenneth is in is a far cry from the last super helpful one. In reply to the email I sent each of them months apart, the first offered to take him in to her office so I could ring him on their landline. This one replied: ‘We have checked your brothers mobile phone, which is fine and working, may I suggest you keep ringing it as the signal is quite bad at the moment’. I have done as she suggested but he hasn’t picked up once. I think it’s too complicated now for him to ring me with all of the codes required to get out of Britain. His friend tells me that he is complaining that I am not ringing him. She also told me that he gets very confused, for example he rang her upset that he’d lost his phone, yet he was ringing her on it. Managing dementia face to face is difficult, managing communications problems due to dementia from 17,000 km away is just about impossible without help at the other end. I have no solution, emails to his daughter remain unanswered.

It seems that stories about the capability of American spy satellites are coming to me unasked for. After reading that in the 60s and 70s they were capable of identifying a number plate in Northern Ireland when Britain was opposing the IRA, I have now come across a story about US spy satellites identifying a biological leak from a bioweapons facility in Russia in 1979 after spotting road closures around the plant. Then Martha told me that when she was growing up it was reported that the Americans could read a newspaper being held by a person in Moscow. All of this makes a mockery of the whole spy balloon business, if the US has that capability then you can bet your sweet bippy that the Chinese and Russian have it too.

Raina MacIntyre’s new book Dark Winter is fascinating and not all about Covid as I had expected it to be. She discusses advances in genetic engineering, past deliberate and accidental releases of viruses, bacteria and toxins from various countries including a 1950 event where a biological aerosol spray of bacteria was silently pumped from a ship in San Francisco Bay, untold people were infected and one died. It was the son of the man who died who persisted with a lawsuit that took 27 years to prove that his father’s death was caused by Operation Sea Spray, a US Navy biological warfare experiment. They had released enough bacteria to infect the entire population of San Francisco as well as cities and towns beyond. Similar events occurred in the UK. The conspiracy theorists actually get it right sometimes.

February 20, 2023

Interesting that John is happy with the temperature in the house on a hot day then at about 8 pm each night he complains about being hot and puts the cooler on. I wondered if it were night sweats, but his temperature has been normal each time I have checked it. Perhaps it’s digestion related after dinner, I’m not sure but it’s as regular as clockwork. He has finally decided to stop drinking the ghastly Bambu that replaces tea for him after I contacted the distributor and there isn’t a single place in the area that sells the stuff. Now I might get some of the packets of herbal teas used up as no visitor ever wants one. Still can’t believe that a book I read recently was recorded on Goodreads as having been read in 2020, I had written a review then but I had completely forgotten about it till I wrote a second one, at least the scores and comments coincided. No comments about John’s memory for a while I think.

Finally got to book for the Eco Dyeing Course at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in March as Jane has said she will take John for the day. I like the fact that all materials are included, especially after I have invested in so much stuff for the painting classes which I may or may not continue. I have done the next steps in the landscape that we started last week but I’m still not happy with it. I’ve already redone it once so it will have to stay as is now, too much else happening this week to be bothered with it. Got to get back to Raina’s book, I may have to buy a copy to indulge my itchy underlining finger. There’s certainly lots that I want to remember.

February 21, 2023

I took a shopping list of queries to Bob regarding John’s preparation for the dental treatment and he’s now faxed reports to the dentist so I can tick that off. Talked about getting the fifth vaccination, which John has already had due to his medical conditions, and it’s up to me whether to go with Moderna or Pfizer, so that’s another job to do, looking into both and making a decision. For someone pretty well I spend a hell of a lot of time making medical decisions lately, though most are not my own.

I’m thinking of penning a note to John’s amazing orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Ellis whom we no longer see. This has bubbled away in my mind ever since John started telling people that his knee was replaced over 50 years ago when he had his bike accident, when of course the second and hopefully last op was in 2019 and the first about 2017. It pains me to hear him tell that story as Andrew was so awesome and, although I wouldn’t let him know that John has completely forgotten him, I would feel better knowing he’d got a blast from the past communication from a thankful patient.

So back to Raina. In September 2019 she wrote a paper about one of only two labs in the world that house smallpox virus, one being the CDC in Atlanta and the other the Vector Institute in Siberia. Of course both house samples of many other dangerous bacteria and viruses as well. There had been an explosion that September (presumably noted by the spy satellites) in which all of the glass in the 6-storey Vector building was blown out by a huge explosion. Both the Russians and the US downplayed the incident saying that any viruses released would have been destroyed in the ensuing fire. Raina disbelieved this and consulted engineers who said that the shock waves carrying the virus and bacteria samples would have been propelled well in front of the flame. In the paper published in a Global Biosecurity editorial she stated that diseases may take several months to be detected and advised Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan to monitor closely for serious emerging epidemics for the next three months (that is till the end of December 2019). We all know what happened during that period. She is not saying that this is any more than coincidence, but what an interesting coincidence in any event. She was howled down for even mentioning this as a possibility. Trying to avoid buying this book, but it’s only the lack of a local bookshop that’s holding me back at the moment.

February 22, 2023

I spoke too soon about ticking off the dental stuff. Bob rang last night and said it would be better if John didn’t have an extraction if there is an alternative. I didn’t ask why as I was a bit taken aback, but I’m assuming it’s the infection risk after two previous bouts of septicaemia. Of course I couldn’t sleep and feel like a soggy doormat this morning (I know that doesn’t make much sense but the words came unbidden). So do I contact the dentist by phone or email asking if there’s an alternative? Do I go back to Bob for elucidation? I don’t know.

Nearly a month after emailing my niece in England for details on my brother and getting no reply, I went through the whole search procedure again, turning him up this time in a home near Bradford. He isn’t answering his mobile so I emailed the home and asked if I could ring him on their landline at an agreed time, but they replied that ‘there is nothing wrong with his phone’. Still no answer on the mobile so I emailed again and asked them if they could help him to dial my number, something that could be difficult for him now. Reply: they have spoken to Tanya who will ring me. No call, but an email from her this morning to say that he’s been back in hospital with bladder problems and has now returned to the home. But this circuitous route to get a simple reply to my emails to Tanya is ridiculous and I still haven’t spoken to Kenneth. It is very interesting though that we both have ongoing bladder problems and also brain issues in relation to movement, his being Meniere’s Disease which the neurologist told me is closely linked to what I have. In the old Nature versus Nurture argument I see so much that comes down on the side of Nature. The way things are going I am expecting not to hear anything until he dies and I just don’t know how long I can keep playing nice. Is it fear of a claim on his estate? What have I ever done to raise that as a possibility though? Jealousy maybe? That’s not unknown. I need an advocate in England but have no idea how to organise that. I know he wants to hear from me regularly, something he voices vigorously when I manage to speak to him.

I had plenty of time last night to think, probably unfortunately. The world seems to me to have got to its peak and is now tipping over to a big slide down the other side. Consider overpopulation, climate change, pollution, widespread hunger, war, species extinction and the rise of Fascism in many places. Now for the up side, well there’s incredible scientific advances, particularly in medicine with CRISPR technology for gene editing which will lead to cures of genetic diseases, but these advances will be limited to the wealthy countries and can also be used negatively in eugenic type experiments or to artificially create desired traits in a population. So it’s not a clear benefit. Huge leaps in information technology are also in the positive/negative basket depending on use so I am struggling here in trying to find outright positives. The fact that a country can justify war over any issue at all in the current state of the world is mind-boggling to me. We are talking our way into a war with China which might just be the end of everything. So the best I can hope for at this point is that the downhill slide will be slower than I’m thinking and that our grandchildren get some sort of life before the roller-coaster picks up speed. I’m afraid our great-grandchildren are screwed whichever way I look at it though. So unbearably sad.

February 23, 2023

Today the gods shined on me in a few ways. It was fine when I left to go to the hospital so I took no jacket or umbrella, then it teamed all the way down the M2 to the city where I got a close park, and thankfully no sign of rain. As soon as I got inside the hospital it poured again until I came out by which time it had fined up. So the joy of rain but not any of its inconvenience. But most importantly Alan the surgeon said I will live the six months till the next appointment. So good news all round.

This morning Bob rang again about the dentist issue, sounding even more reluctant for John to proceed with it. We’ve decided that if it boils down to just a cosmetic issue he will say no (or more to the point I will) and the dentist needs to show some clinical reason for an extraction that is problematic enough to risk an infection. Bob pointed out that John’s had septicaemia from a much less invasive procedure in the past. I said ‘we have to go for safety in the end Bob’ and his reply was ‘yes, and it could be the end if it goes wrong’. That pretty well made the case.

I have been trawling the net for a second hand copy of Dark Winter and of course it’s too soon after publication to get one, but Big W of all places has copies for $24, so I can’t argue with that and bought one, big spender that I am. I planned to do a cake for book group this arv but have come home to a blackout, so I think it will have to wait till the morning, giving me an excuse to finish the picture I’m working on. Somehow I still need excuses to do things that are not ‘work’.

Thinking about the rise of Fascism in many places I went back to reread a well-known assessment of Hitler: His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never concede that there might be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. Hitler touched on these principles in Mein Kampf, a book that almost got me thrown off a bus from Parramatta to my work in Castle Hill in the early 1970s. A very aggressive man asked the driver to put me off but I accepted the compromise of putting the book in my bag for the duration of the journey, though even then I was roundly hissed when I alighted. But back to the assessment: I was amazed at how Trumpian it all sounded, I would suggest that he’d read Hitler’s book except it was widely reported that he simply doesn’t read. The line never concede that there might be some good in your enemy is an interesting one and always something that we need to watch out for personally. It has come to the fore recently in discussions about Charlie Teo for example, it’s easy to be ‘for im or agin im’, but harder to tease out the faults from the virtues. An important strategy used to soften people up for an impending invasion or war is covered by concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong. Vietnam? Iraq? Afghanistan anyone? In fact the recent rhetoric regarding China involves good examples of both of the last two propositions. But I won’t go any further on the China issue right now as I don’t want to spoil the good run that the gods have provided today.

February 24, 2023

There are some wonderful spoofs on Facebook on the subject of the missing Perrottets and Ellises, the best being a take on the famous parrot scene from Fawlty Towers where the shopkeeper is looking into the cage held by John Cleese and saying: ‘No sir, they are definitely not dead. What would seem to be the case is that your Perrottets are simply missing.’ Classic. Another shows Jean-Claude dressed in drag as a participant in the World Pride March, an excellent disguise I would think. I joined the fun and added a piece to the mix. Perhaps they all (coincidentally of course) developed a longing to return to lockdown and those simpler days when one’s choices were limited and we led uncomplicated lives.

Book group was fun and very welcome after such a long break. Our numbers are shrinking slightly but that’s not surprising considering our ages and the various situations of our lives. It was good to have Sue here for the afternoon and overnight, before she goes to Kirribilli to check on the work the painter has been doing this week. She’s left colour decisions up to him as those details aren’t of much interest to her, but I’ll bet it will be various shades of white which has been all the goes for many years now. I wonder what Dulux colour consultants do these days? Not a lot I suspect. The only downside of the day was that John’s precious diary has gone missing. He consults it many times a day to know what we are doing and I have no idea what could have happened to it. As I was doing his checklist before leaving we went through hat, glasses, water bottle, coloured pencils and paper. He waved the diary at me saying I’ve put the paper in here and I almost said that I don’t think it’s a good idea to take the diary out of the house, but thought better of it. When we got to Carol’s the diary wasn’t with him and when we got home it wasn’t here either, a complete mystery. The evening was spent disposing of a very good shiraz.

February 25, 2023

Sue brought with her some tomatoes, eggplants and a pumpkin from the farm, as well as the heaviest watermelon I have ever picked up. It was a round one, not terribly large , but it weighed more than my scales were happy with, so I knew it was over 5 kg. After cutting it I weighed the pieces and it was nearly 8 kg, so at $2.99 a kg that makes it a $24 melon. I insisted that she take some, or most, of it to give her daughter as we would never get through it. I hope she is happy at Kirribilli after I went in to bat for it so strongly against the alternative of Marrickville. I’m really looking forward to seeing the unit after the carpet layers are done. Funny that she’ll just be a short walk from the ‘lady’ who ripped her and the hospital off to the tune of $5000 for a painting never delivered.

Carly arrived late morning after a flight from Canberra. I always half expect a plane crash and hate knowing that anyone I love is in the air. Yes I know the statistics but that doesn’t ease the anxiety. I loved getting the rundown on her meeting this week with one of our political icons and she was excited to tell me how sharp and intelligent the person was at a private level, just as we’d guessed would be the case. Yesterday I did a cake for book group that did all the right things but today I failed to repeat the performance doing one for Millie’s party tomorrow. It is a hummingbird cake and I had put it back in the oven a couple of times before deciding that the moisture on the skewer must be either pineapple or banana and, afraid of drying it out, I took it out of the oven looking perfectly level with the top of the tin. Sad to say it proceeded to sink in the middle so I misjudged that it was cooked. Now it’s either fill the hole, cut it down in height or take a circle out of the middle and make it a ring cake. As it is going to have cream cheese frosting, the latter seems the best choice.

Still no communication from the niece who promised to call me in a conversation with my brother’s care home manager. I keep saying ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy’ but then I keep being nice, just in case my displeasure gives her an excuse to cut me out. However I adopted that tactic with some of John’s family for years and it didn’t do us any good at all.

February 26, 2023

Managed to salvage the cake by cutting out the centre and making it look as if it were cooked in a ring tin, iced with cream cheese frosting it looked the goods. Louis’s mum Sue and nephew Beau were down from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for Millie’s 7th birthday party and we also welcomed old friends Ryan and Terry and Beth and Andre with their son Elliot. Unfortunately John couldn’t remember any of them and kept asking me ‘who is the lady in the black dress?’ (Louis’s mum whom he’s met many times over 16 years) and despite my answering that question repeatedly he was none the wiser when we got home. He couldn’t keep up with the fast moving conversation and it was obvious that he felt out of it so sadly we were the first to leave. I left a present for Louis, a book from 1940 with the complete extant works of the four Stoic philosophers on which he based his recent talk at a conference.

For some weird reason I was feeling exhausted when we got home and, strangely for me, not at all hungry despite only eating one piece of cake at the party, though that won’t do me any harm.

February 27, 2023

Despite being very tired I couldn’t sleep for more than half hour stretches last night but luckily we had no plans for the morning. Sold a German cut throat razor on eBay and got that posted, hopefully solving the recurring dream from last night that I’d forgotten to do so. I’m wondering if I have sleep apnoea as I am sleeping so badly but don’t want to go through the testing procedure as it would mean finding someone to mind John all night.

We met up with his old neighbour at Lane Cove and that went well. We were to meet outdoors at 1.30 but when she hadn’t turned up by 2pm I texted her and luckily she was in town but had mixed the time or the date or something. However we had afternoon tea at Cake Time and all went well after that. I took the opportunity to peruse the Lifeline store which is a cut above most of them in quality. I eyed off a Stella McCartney coat without initially knowing who designed it, just that it was stylish, but resisted the temptation. There were lots of cookbooks there, all in mint condition: Heston, Damien Pignolet, Gary Mehigan, Curtis Stone and many more. I got books by the latter two, for the vast expense of $5 and $8, but resisted all else. On the way home there was an almighty traffic jam for a long way till we came to Beecroft tunnel where a bus, a couple of tradie’s vans and a car had had an end to end pile-up, quite seriously damaging all of them. I’ve been wondering how the passengers got out but I suppose the police would have stopped traffic for them when a replacement bus arrived.

Just had a knock at the door and it was a man returning John’s diary! He lost it last Friday and I have been saying that the only possibility could be that he had put it on the car roof, so I’ve driven slowly along our route but failed to see it. Huge relief to know what actually happened and to get it back as it holds all his contact information as well as forward appointments.

I realise I hadn’t commented on Mardi Gras. It was great to have it back on Oxford St and I did love many of the participants, excepting Look at Me Thorpe who becomes more annoying all the time. However I did miss the edgy political floats of years ago and some of the over the top costumes which were in short supply. I guess that many of those grand costumiers are dead and gone now. Great to see Dawn marching as a 78er, all in all a great night, even if only vicariously via tv.

February 28, 2023

Luckily it is the start of 3 days when John is taken care of. I can’t eat so I’m living on milk. Pretty wobbly and very tired so I’ve spent the day in bed. Not sure what’s going on but I’m sick of it now. Debating whether to text Bob or assume it will resolve.

March 1, 2023

Texted Bob and he came at 7.30 this morning. Says I have a kidney infection and wanted to put me in hospital for IV antibiotics. I did a deal that we’ll try drugs by mouth for a couple of days and see how we go and if that fails I’ll have to go to hospital. Greg, John’s carer, drove up to Baulko and got the drugs so I’m on them already.

March 2, 2023

Poleaxed. No food since Monday, except milk.

March 3, 2023

Well I’m out of bed and camping on the lounge on the back verandah pain free. John looked surprised when I refused breakfast, he seems to have little or no recollection that I’m sick. His comment on Tuesday was that it was nice Bob had come to see him. I think his main concern is that the standards at this hotel have slipped dramatically. It’s so different to the way he used to be, and I know he can’t help it, but it hurts just the same.

March 4, 2023

I am back at the computer briefly and also able to read now, both massive improvements. Although it’s strange, I’m not concerned about the no food thing, but happy to accept the eight pounds I’ve lost so far and any more to come. It’s currently a mystery to me how I could ever have been so focussed on food and sweet stuff in particular. I had a recipe book open on the coffee table with a meal I had been planning and I was happy to fold it up and not to have to see the pictures. But I guess eventually I will be having daydreams about Dolcettini and KOI, I just can’t imagine it right now.

The Monthly arrived in the post yesterday and is the best issue I can remember. Cover story by my fave Rick Morton is worth the sub on its own, then a surprise article by Elliot Perlman reprising his marvellous book 3 Dollars, published 25 years ago. Good timing as I’ve not long finished his great novel The Streetsweeper. Then on top of all that comes a lengthy story on author John Hughes and his long career as a plagiarist. All of his excuses are gone into, but none of them washed with me. I could be a great author too if I copied great swatches of The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and All Quiet on the Western Front and so many, many more wonderful novels. My question is how he got away with it for so long? Surely agents and publishers are well read people? A mystery.

I watched the news last night and unfortunately saw a promo of Annabel Crabb’s new show Back in Time for the Corner Shop. God I’d hoped I’d never again see that ghastly overacting, lay-it-on-with-a-trowel woman that they use for these shows, but we’ll be deluged with promos of her and her family for weeks now. Any audition person would ring the bell at the first utterance, but apparently the ABC finds her appealing. Hit the mute button and shut your eyes, all things must pass. Until someone rings me to ask if I’m watching it…..

If anyone dreams of burying me in a lime green coffin remotely like the one used today for the chap shot outside the gym in Sefton, be warned. You will be found, you will be haunted, it really isn’t worth the risk.

March 5, 2023

Highlights today: Watching Insiders and enjoying it (apart from the ghastly Angus), being able to drive up to Baulko to pick up a massive bag of medications for John and then Dav and family coming in the afternoon armed with a pile of bananas, oranges and a bowl of stewed apple. I had asked for two bananas and two oranges but got 8 bananas and six oranges, loaves and fishes. We sat on the back deck and chewed the fat, metaphorically only! The drive was fine for that short distance but it convinced me that taking John to St. V’s tomorrow for his treatment is definitely off, I was going to make a decision in the morning. I’ll ring them to postpone but they won’t be happy, as it will be an 8 am cancellation of an 11 am appointment, but better than wiping out some poor soul on the way. I wonder how John would get this treatment if he were in aged care? I suspect he just wouldn’t as I can’t see them organising a driver once a month. Perhaps that’s why people often go downhill fast in a home, because their treatments and specialists’ appointments end and they get treated by the visiting GP. Also cancelled the replacement art class that they were letting me attend tomorrow night, we’ll see if they offer another alternative or if I just miss the boat for that one. Pity if so as I’ve done the sky and background for a picture of the Swiss Alps at dawn or dusk but I have no idea what to do next.

Stewed apple for dinner and life’s good.

March 6, 2023

Last night I had a call from Michelle telling me in part that she was sorting out her jewellery and deciding who she should leave it to, with a view to writing her will. This reminded me that I was also involved in a pre mortem clearance, with my jewellery sales at auction coming to fruition yesterday. Goodness knows when I would have checked the result otherwise, as it was not in my mind. I went online and discovered that to my surprise all six of the pieces had sold. I was very happy with the results, particularly the Georg Jensen bracelet which went for four times the reserve! I hope that the new owner gets as much enjoyment from it as I’ve had. So now I will send another tranche, after first checking if there’s anything that my girls want, though our jewellery tastes are fairly different.

It was planned today that John go to St. V’s for his treatment but it was clear this morning that driving to the city was far beyond my capabilities but they are unusually busy at the moment so he must wait till next Monday, which is probably a good thing from my point of view. Mid-morning I got a phone call from someone saying ‘I’ve got a flower for you’. I repeatedly asked for his identity, thinking it a scam, but all I got was ‘I’ve got a flower for you’. He asked if I were at home as he was outside and then the penny dropped that it was a florists’ delivery driver. Going outside I saw a van parked in next door’s driveway and soon saw the driver with a huge bunch of flowers from Carly which he had been trying to deliver next door! Two strokes of luck there, one that it could have been on my neighbour’s porch all day in 38 degree heat and barring his address mistake that if we’d gone to St. Vs it may very well have been left on mine. The bunch is so sizeable that I didn’t have a vase big enough, but they look wonderful in an antique wash jug.

March 7, 2023

I have managed to dip in and out of the Robodebt Royal Commission live feed and I’ve decided that if brain transplants become possible in my lifetime I will opt for the one currently owned by Commissioner Catherine Holmes, thanks very much. She misses nothing, she’s deadpan in a way I could never be, she’s just bonza. I think if Stuart Robert called her ma’am one more time she may have leapt the bench and pulled his throat out, but then she’s so cool that I can’t be sure. Today Kathryn Campbell, former secretary and one of the founders of the scheme, was brittle and rigid, clearly wanting to be anywhere else in the world. After Robodebt collapsed in a fireball she was moved to Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, despite a complete lack of experience in the field, reportedly as a reward for her support of Morrison and the programme. Thankfully for this family she no longer resides there. It is pretty obvious where Holmes’ axe is going to fall and it is amongst particular politicians and public servants who are now being recalled for second or even third appearances. One of those who hasn’t appeared at all, Malisa Golightly, died at an early age from unknown causes some time after Robodebt had been found to be illegal. I’m not sure how Holmes will handle that tricky one but I trust it will be totally appropriately. Perhaps Morrison, followed by Robert and Tudge, were the most slippery of witnesses, but Rachelle Miller was irksome and downright nasty, with no apparent understanding (nor care) of how her actions had affected victims. She was responsible for digging dirt files on any person who spoke negatively to the Press about Robodebt and she was totally unapologetic for that action, or any other. I would like to have the 65 cents I contributed to her settlement (basically for having an affair with her sleazy boss) returned post haste. Robert helpfully pointed out that if a person was on benefits for 11 months and earned $1 million in the 12th month (not a totally impossible scenario) the programme would have shown that they earned $83,333 per week and were scamming the government. I don’t think this is more than high school maths, yet no-one in the department or the various ministers’ offices considered that the idea of income averaging simply couldn’t be reliable. It is apparent that they are not all stupid, so the only explanation is that they knew but just didn’t care.

March 8, 2023

I was totally disgusted by the war-mongering story on the front page yesterday, unsurprisingly authored by the China hawk Peter Hartcher. There are a lot of issues I would like to take up over Chinese actions, but I am hamstrung defending them for those things they are accused of but haven’t done. I penned a letter to the SMH  as follows:

Dear Editor,I often tell people of the TV ads that the government ran trying to bolster support for the war in Vietnam. They showed troops of Chinese soldiers carrying rifles, marching south across the Harbour Bridge. Though laughable at one level, they were in fact a cynical attempt to terrify the populace into supporting a war which we should have refused point blank to join. I didn’t think that decades later this tactic would be repeated on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

It followed a previous letter a few weeks back which listed the countries China has invaded in the past 50 years compared to the same list for the USA, apologising for taking up so much of the Letters page with the latter list. I feel as I did prior to the Vietnam and Iraq invasions and I suspect our voices will similarly be ignored. America lives on having enemies and has a misplaced and inflated self-belief which clouds all judgments. Usually they attack people over whom they can ultimately prevail, despite the ruination of the country concerned. This time they are biting off a much bigger mouthful than they can safely swallow.

Saw Bob this morning and told him that if I could have the current zero pain, zero discomfort and zero loss of control for the rest of my life I would be a very happy camper. But I have finished the antibiotics now and we can only wait and see, I accidentally typed ‘wait and wee’ which is possibly more accurate. He can’t the drug as an ongoing medication in case we lose this last line of defence. We should know in a week if it’s going to hold, toes crossed. But on the exhaustion and eating front there is only minimal improvement, strangely I only want fruit or fish, so it’s fruit for breakfast and lunch and a tiny portion of fish for dinner, but there’s plenty of food in the freezer for John.

Over the last months I have been interested in the trial of Alex Murdaugh, the wealthy scion of a North Carolina legal family for the murder of his wife and son. To see his conviction taking the jury only three hours was surprising. The judge’s remarks were memorable: that he had had to remove the portrait of the accused’s great-grandfather from the court in the interests of justice as his family had dominated the court for generations as prosecutors and judges. It was also a black judge sitting over a very famous white man and the profound message in that must have been obvious to everyone. But perhaps it was his final word that were most disquieting: “I sit here in this courtroom and look around at the many portraits of judges and reflect on the fact that over the past century your family, including you, have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom and many have received a death penalty for lesser conduct.”

March 9, 2023

Well Andrew Wilkie has come out with serious accusations against Hillsong under parliamentary privilege, and none too soon. He said: “I am shocked that when (the documents were) offered to the ATO, ASIC and ACNC last year, under whistleblower legislation, not one of those agencies acted. And that is a failure of regulatory oversight every bit as alarming as Hillsong’s criminality.” Hear, hear to that. I interviewed Wilkie at his Sydney home (was it in Waverley? somewhere over there anyway) for a Sydney public radio station many, many years ago and found him forthright and honest. It was in relation to the false US intelligence reports coming out of Iraq. He commented at the end that it was a very good interview, though I’m sure he says that to everyone as he’s a nice man, but I had his mobile in my phone for years after and perhaps I still do. He would be my go-to guy if I stumbled on any sort of serious malfeasance that could be exposed in parliament. Hillsong’s business model was explained to me years ago by an ex-member. They pay huge honoraria to their overseas pastors, along with business class travel to Australia and luxury accommodation, and then the overseas pastors give the Houstons similar gigs with similar conditions in their countries. Accommodation vacancies currently exist in Long Bay, Silverwater and Parklea I understand, transport included.

I have spent the whole day doing Sweet Fanny Adams, watching the Robodebt Royal Commission and seeing Mr. Greggery ever so politely pull the ex-Ombudsman into small pieces, reading a couple more articles in The Monthly, wanting to paint but the effort of setting up the paper and brushes seemed too difficult and finally sitting on the front verandah just waiting for John to come home. Bob, Kristy and others think it wise that I take a break and give John a week in respite. Apparently it’s a matter of ringing around one’s chosen facilities and discussing their rules and regs and more crucially, their availability. So on Monday I rang ARV, the place I have most knowledge of, and asked for assistance. I was assured that I would get a call by Wednesday morning, but despite ringing again I’ve heard nothing. (I’m glad I didn’t say yes to hospital and have to do this from the back of an ambulance!) This was why I ruled them out as home care providers, their appallingly lax administration. So this arv I tried again, this time with Baptist Care’s Gracewood at Kellyville, recommended by Tania, who is in the know about such things. They rang back in five minutes and were helpful: yes to private rooms, yes to ensuites, yes to an accessible garden, but they require a minimum of a three week stay. Too long I think, and I’m not prepared to pull him out early as they will charge for that time and as he only has approval for 61 days a year in total I don’t want to waste virtually half of it. So we begin again. Perhaps the gods are thinking that by the time I sort it out I will be well enough not to need it? They have a sense of humour those gods.

March 10, 2023

Today Jane and Boris offered to take John for a drive in the afternoon, so I took the opportunity to use the family Christmas gift of a massage. Because the local Endota Spa is in the dreaded Castle Towers, I had planned to find one in a main street setting, in Balmain for example, but that’s not an option today so the Towers it is. I must admit that once inside one could be anywhere. Rooms are labelled with names such as Believe and Breathe (I don’t need to be reminded, but thankyou for the tip) so it’s very New Age and not really my scene. But the girl was nice enough in a totally impersonal way and explained that after the massage she would advise me on ‘products’. Not wanting her to get excited about this idea, I mentioned that I had no need of products so that was unnecessary. The massage was very relaxing and when I commented on the lovely scent of the oil (ylang ylang and patchouli) I was reminded that I could purchase some as either oil or as a room infuser, so I decided to cease all comment from then on. On leaving I was approached at the desk with ‘I know you said that you weren’t interested in products but these three are highly recommended based on my experience of your skin’. A shake of the head was enough I thought, but then ‘would you like to book your next appointment while you’re here?’. No thankyou and I am off into the melee of the Towers, deleting their survey from my email when I got home. This pleasant afternoon completely buggered me and I was in bed and asleep by 8 pm, but very pleased that John reported a lovely visit to the Botanical Gardens and came home a happy chappy.

John’s carer Greg was off this week (was it a colonoscopy?) so he was replaced by a lovely Indian lady from South Africa. It was only when they came back that she divulged that this was her very first solo caring appointment, having been trained by Wendy’s but previously working with a buddy. She’s actually an accountant. They got on well and it’s good to add another familiar person to the list of possibilities for the future. It’s slightly worrying that Greg is now not working next week either so there’s concern that he’s had a negative result. We have no personal contact number as part of company policy so I could only send a message to him via the office but I really hope he’s okay. Next week I need to take John to appointments previously cancelled so every day is taken, either by those or by home  carers or day care. I know how lucky I am to have these options and even though the government’s intent is to keep him out of care for financial reasons, they’ve done a good job of setting up the alternatives.

Sadly the same can’t be said for the Robodebt scheme. It is patently clear that the planning was deliberately cruel and punitive and intended to punish those who were relying on Centrelink benefits. I watched the very end of the Royal Commission yesterday with an appearance by the mother of a boy who suicided hours after receiving two notices, one that he owed $2000 because his income and benefits didn’t tally and another to say that his Newstart Allowance was cancelled because of said debt. After he died his mother got a letter to say that his debt had been recalculated to a little over $1000, for no apparent reason, but also saying that it would be wiped due to his death making it ‘uneconomic to pursue debt recovery’. Who sends such a letter to a grieving mother? I hope once the Hillsong crew go to some ‘correctional facility’ there is still room left for Morrison, Tudge, Robert et al. They can all pray together and speak in tongues, just as they did at the Commission. Catherine Holmes was in good form at the end, when her lackey announced that ‘the Commission is now adjourned’ she snapped ‘no its not, it’s ended’. Ouch.

March 11, 2023

Up early to get the respite emails written and out of my hair for the weekend. With ARV I gave a blow by blow account of my attempts to connect, not exactly complaining but asking for email answers to my six questions as I’ve been unable to speak to a person. Then, in case I need to go with Gracewood, I sent them all the documents they had asked for. I am wondering if they want these details to weed out anyone who looks as if they might cause a bit of work for the staff. I don’t know, but I won’t hear from either till Monday so that is somewhat of a relief in that I can safely leave my phone in another room without panicking about missed calls. Heather rang this morning and I asked her about the Brethren home. She said that they had received so much bad Press that they opened it at much the same time they were bringing across hay from WA to help drought-stricken farmers. It was all over the news at the time but apparently it was almost all going to Brethren farmers. She surprised me by saying that she wouldn’t get involved with them, this from someone who spent her first 20 years or so in that faith, it was the religion of her parents and grandparents. We went up to the shops briefly and ran into John’s pal from day care, Logan. I always wave to him when I’m seeing John off as he sits right behind the driver. His wife was with him and I’ve decided to have them round soon for a cuppa as it would be good for John to bolster that friendship. He is back to his old self now that I’m doing the things I normally do around the house, even though that’s precious little as yet. The papers are getting well read though.

I painted a card this afternoon of a beach scene and it was pretty crap so I’m glad I didn’t attempt to finish the Alps picture for which the teacher has sent instructions. I missed two classes but made sure that the owner of the school knew exactly what was happening, however Krista said she had no idea why I didn’t turn up and whether I was coming back. Surely this is not such a massive operation that two messages can’t be passed on? Back in my day…. well I guess in my day with no email and no phone in our house there weren’t any messages passed on so I’d better shut up.

March 12, 2023

John has just packed up the 1000 piece jigsaw that I bought him recently. It had become obvious that I was the only one who was doing a bit and he now says it’s too much for him. Was worth a try though. He must get so sick of playing patience and colouring. Even the papers are too much now, though he looks at the headlines. Yesterday he unusually looked at the deaths and commented that there was a Peter Downie there, the name of a close friend. I told him that I think we would have heard if it were our Peter but he wasn’t convinced, so I asked if it listed the man’s wife’s name. Yes, Rosalie, he said questioningly. Well if it’s not Dawn we’re okay I answered, but he wasn’t happy till he checked the birth date, oh it’s 1933 so it’s not him he said happily. I’m not sure I’ll tell Peter. John phoned Stephen this morning and it ended up with me doing all the talking as when I prompted John to talk about his escapades out with carers or with Jane and Boris for example he couldn’t remember any of them, so it came back to me telling his stories.

Carly rang last night and she isn’t getting a weekend, needing to go in to work both days. It’s all about the May budget and submitting figures for what her department wants to do. I guess it wasn’t long ago that I needed to work 7 days at times, though I can’t imagine what that was like now. I feel as if I have gone so far downhill since then. I think there’s truth in the idea of never retiring because all the passion goes and the energy with it.

Although I stuck to my plan of not worrying about John’s respite over the weekend, I did have a sneaky look at the online reviews for both of the homes in question. The ARV ones were a mixture of good reviews and others like ‘Absolutely pathetic RNs here. Do not send your elderly relatives here – unbelievable lack of empathy from staff. Would rate 0 if I could’ and ‘Most frustrating place to try and speak to a resident outside working hours. Only public number is a central Anglicare number and goes nowhere on a weekend or after hours. Even when I finally found a number to a ‘nurse on the floor’ it went to message bank. This is simply unacceptable for any retirement home’ and ‘Can never get through to reception. Being an aged care facility, you should be able to get through to reception at all times’. On top of my experience with their administration phone, this is looking a bit too much like a pattern. The Kellyville one was pretty uniformly good. I’m glad I looked.

March 13, 2023

Well the angels were smiling today as I left Baulko in rain to drive John to St. Vs for his belated treatment. But when I’d dropped him off and got to a parking spot at Woolloomooloo there was still some blue sky there, but with big black clouds rolling in from the west. I hurried to the pool and managed six slow laps in that divine saltwater pool but the rain still hadn’t hit so I was able to camp there and read for a bit. Met a chap called Peter in the pool who couldn’t wait to tell me that he’d been to Harry Triguboff’s 90th birthday party at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday night ‘amazing food, the entertainment was unbelievable with scantily clad acrobats hanging from rings in the ceiling’. He was joined by 420 of his ‘closest friends’. Apparently it was very political as one would expect, Morrison, Dutton, Howard, the usual suspects. He was welcome to it, although I didn’t burst his bubble by telling him that as he seemed pretty happy about it all.

I was disgusted to read that the Herald wouldn’t print any of Paul Keating’s scathing rebuttal of last week’s Red Alert series, Peter Hartcher’s desperate attempt to scare us all into a more aggressive stance on China. I think I shall have to wipe Hartcher’s other articles in future, if I don’t agree with his assessments on this so how can I trust anything else he writes about? I disagree with PK on a lot of things but he’s usually spot on about foreign affairs (as he was about the colour of my loungeroom).

Yesterday we had a long chat with Stephen and he asked John if he had been lost on his walks lately. John had forgotten ever being lost but replied that he always stuck to the same route. Shortly after he went out and an hour later rang me from the other side of Castle Hill, lost 6.2 kms from home, but happily sitting on someone’s front fence waiting to be picked up.

March 14, 2023

Well today I was determined to finish the painting that I missed doing when I wasn’t there for two lessons. Krista kindly sent me a video of her online students doing the same work and I can see how it has its benefits to do it that way. You can stop and start the video as you work or go back if you need to, perhaps it’s worth considering this as I wasn’t going to continue next term as I have to get an evening carer but now I will have another think. Although I see faults in my painting of the Alps, I also think it’s probably the best one I’ve done.

Quite an interesting conversation with Iris whom we bumped into at the shops the other day with her husband Logan, John’s friend from day care. She has taken two weeks off work looking for respite care for him and she rang ARV as her first choice, but has had no reply in 12 days! She is excited by the possibility of he and John going somewhere together, which would be wonderful if it could be worked out. So I’ve given her Gracewood’s details and she’ll follow it up. I’m still waiting for the ‘clinical team’ there to decide if they can take John……

I say this with a gulp but I think I have just read a book worthy of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, big call. I have been trying to get a copy for a while and Hills Library acceded to my request to buy it. Called A Guardian Angel Recalls by Willem Frederik Hermans, written in Dutch in 1971 but only recently translated. It is narrated by a guardian angel sitting on the shoulder of a public prosecutor during the days prior to and just after the German invasion. The angel tries valiantly to keep its charge safe and ethical and just, but with the accent on safe, however humans being as they are the successes are hard won. If I could give this book 10 out of 5 I would, despite it being a subject not usually within my style. It is all written as a contest between the inner voice of Bert who sinks into his obtuse fantasies and resurfaces to think sensibly, for short periods at least. Who could think sensibly with Hitler on the doorstep? The author describes the Dutch Army as ‘ninety percent conscientious objectors in uniform’, high praise in my opinion and I suspect in the author’s. A couple of lines meant for me: ‘One often suffers bitter tears, from suffering one only fears.’ I cried a few times, not least when I finished it.

March 15, 2023

Someone from Gracewood rang at 8 am and asked a motza of questions about John. I have no idea which criteria they are using to decide so I just answered everything honestly and we shall see, though she certainly didn’t indicate that there were any problems. I think she said there is a room in the dementia locked section and one in the ‘normal section’, but surely that’s a no-brainer? Now it goes to the manager for decision apparently. Yesterday afternoon I told John that Heather was popping in shortly and his answer was: Do I know Heather? That’s the first time he’s failed to recall someone that we know well and see often.

Today was a return to the dentist for John at RNS. I explained that Bob was wary about her pulling his broken tooth out lest septicaemia is the result. But she thinks it’s risky to leave it as it is, so she’s going to ring him. Let them fight it out. She took an age to very thoroughly fill two teeth so that’s another job off the list. Then to the auctions where I put in a clean-up of my jewellery drawers, but nothing as exciting as the last lot. While there I was invited to look over the upcoming antique sale which was a big mistake on my part. There was a delicious sampler from the 1800s that I couldn’t go past without leaving a bid. Where I will hang it I have no idea, but it spoke to me and as I’ll be cashed up from the jewellery…..

March  16, 2023

Momentous day as I was invited to Gracewood at 9 am to inspect the facilities, so clearly his respite application was looking good. They are meticulous about taking temperatures, supervised RATs and hand sanitiser. But most of all meticulous about paperwork, I came out with a bundle, he’s starting there next Monday, woo hoo. One reads: If you were ill and couldn’t go to breakfast what would you like on the tray brought to your room? The list was longer than a motel breakfast chitty, but it seems such a hypothetical…. The best bit though is the place itself, quite new, spotlessly clean, the staff professional at the same time as being very warm and the facilities are amazing, from the hairdressing salon to the coffee shop to the dining room with chefs cooking food from scratch in an open kitchen, multiple choices at each meal and a menu that changes daily. Downsides? Just one and we’ve managed to dodge it. The dementia unit was straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As we walked into the locked unit a lady came up to me distressed saying ‘My husband died last night’ so of course I was sympathetic. But as we moved away Anu whispered ‘Her husband is alive and well, he visits her every day’. Add this to the moaning and noises and people wandering aimlessly and I was very glad to get the hell out of there. So when I said yesterday that it was a no-brainer which section he would go in, I was clearly wrong. They’ve decided that he’s not demented enough to go in the locked ward thank Buddha, with one proviso: If he goes out through the front doors of the building it will be assumed he’s ‘absconding’ and he’ll go to the locked rooms. So I’ve been explaining this to him constantly, not as a threat or mentioning the dementia unit, but saying that they are frightened he may get hit in the carpark and be sued for millions. He agreed that would be a terrible outcome and promised to stay away from the foyer, but we’ll have to see how we go there.

Spent the afternoon beginning the ‘urgent’ forms needed for them to draw up the contract before Monday. I signed him up for the ‘special extras’ such as the roving icecream cart and drinks at Happy Hour, just in case he decided not to stay a teetotaller (he did after all join in the wine tasting at Murrumbateman). Perhaps now I can sleep without this weight of guilt about putting him in some place that turned out to be dodgy, I’d be happy to go for three weeks if I had to.

March 17, 2023

This morning at 9 am we were both at Gracewood to submit the most important of the documents and Anu offered John a tour and showed him his (lovely) room, introducing him around as we went. John was very happy with it all and I think he was genuine in saying that he’s looking forward to going on Monday. He asked if he could go there permanently if I were unable to take care of him and the manager answered ‘I’m sure we could arrange it’. It is such a weight off both our minds as when I was really sick I considered the possibility that the treatment wouldn’t be successful and John would be left high and dry. Now it’s all about getting everything in order for Monday, from paperwork to clothes etc. I suddenly realised that having John included in my forward legal planning no longer works so I need to have those documents redone, as clearly they can become very important very quickly.

I just got a call from Iris. Her husband Logan has finally decided that he wants to go to Gracewood with John after initially resisting it. So she rang Anu immediately and had his clinical assessment done, but they’ve refused him on the grounds that he needs a bigger bed! He’s not huge by any means and neither of us is sure whether that means forever or just that the bigger beds they have are in use. So disappointing and I wasn’t surprised that there were tears, she’s exhausted, working full time while he goes to day care five days a week and then looking after him nights and all weekend. I don’t know how to help.

John’s carer came today because he missed out on Wednesday due to the dentist. Debbie said that it was too hot to go walking about so she suggested tenpin bowling, as it was in air-conditioning, something that John was very excited about. I am so grateful to Wendy’s for the quality of the people they send. My Vanuatuan friend Alice messaged this morning: “I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.” It lifted my day.

March 18, 2023

The paper screamed this morning that: ‘Army investigates neo-Nazis in its ranks, the Australian Army has launched an urgent investigation after discovering serving soldiers have links to neo-Nazi groups’. Yes well perhaps if they had taken notice of that trend ten or twenty years ago they may have less of a problem now. Is it because people of a domineering and authoritarian nature are attracted to the police and military (particularly the army) or is it because they go into the service young and innocent and are swallowed up by the prevailing culture? I have personally known incidences of both. But the uninhibited racism and far right views of members of the services is apparent and very depressing. I think the army has Buckley’s chance of rooting them out now.

It seems that it’s a hard time for a number of people at the moment. A friend, who has looked after her mother for years at home, rang to say that her mother is fading fast. Bob was there Friday and Saturday, despite the fact that both of those are his days off. Iris, a community nurse, tells me that he is the only doctor doing home visits in this area, hence he gets all the palliative care work. I have recommended him over the years to three people who have been looking after dying relatives and he has attended all of them until their deaths, often daily at the end.

March 19. 2023

Iris brought Logan over this morning to see John before he goes away. Logan got up early to make us some sun-dried tomato pesto which we sampled at lunch and very good it was too. Currently we are doing John’s packing, as well as clothes there is all his drawing and colouring equipment and enough drugs to tide him over the first week at least, and of course the chocolate stash. He is happy about it now which is a huge relief and a credit to the staff’s welcoming attitude.

One comment that Iris made chilled me somewhat, that when they arrived from South Africa she couldn’t understand ‘why white people were being nice to us, what they wanted from us’ so they were naturally suspicious of any positive attention. What a sad commentary on their previous lives that they felt that way, it’s a terrible burden to live under and sadly many people all over the world have to bear it. When will people get past racism? Sadly in recent years we seem to have slipped backwards with all the uber nationalist and anti-Semitic groups popping up.

I sold a 1920s cutthroat Bengall razor on eBay and the fellow will pick it up in the next day or two, a rarity as almost everything gets posted. Because I will be here on my own, the thought crossed my mind that he might take its use literally and cut my throat with it. Such a thing wouldn’t even cross my mind normally and it’s quite silly really, as how would John protect me from a knife-wielding psychopath?

March 20, 2023

What a damned depressing day. We were both quite positive this morning, but that diminished as the day went on. First they took all of John’s clothes to label, which was fine in principle, until he got cold in the air-conditioning so I had to go hunting a jumper for him from the laundry where such activities take place. No biggie. Then they took all his medications, despite his having them sorted into a Webster box, and knowing clearly what to take when. I could foresee an initial stuff-up and it wasn’t long coming, no-one appeared with his pre lunch antibiotic until I asked about it. I decided to stay with him for lunch and the staff had kindly seated him with two men and I was added to the table, though I didn’t eat. Neither was very friendly so I started a conversation with one: ‘How do you find the food here?’ Reply: ‘It would make a dog sick, never mind a human.’ Okay, perhaps I’ll try the other chap. ‘So how long have you lived here?’ ‘I don’t remember, a long time, maybe 13 years but I want an end to it.’ Um, the place has been open for less than 5 years, but it occurred to me if this is the chosen pair to meet John on his first day, what are the rest of them like? (A strange woman came up and told me how glad she was that we’d met up again and how she looks forward to seeing more of me). The food looked perfectly fine, lots of choices, he picked Indian lamb curry, rice and vegetables followed by banana caramel pudding. He rolled his eyes during grace, I hadn’t thought of grace when promising him there would be no religion and it won’t take much to start him on an anti-religion roll. Unfortunately Tuesday morning’s activity is Devotions….but it seems to be only once a week. He looked so sad when I left, saying at the lift ‘Please don’t die before me, I don’t want to stay here’. So now he’s sad and I feel like a heel, great outcome.

I was planning to do my painting ‘homework’, the sky and clouds of a new picture, a seascape with lighthouse. I have till Wednesday night to do it, but thought it would be a good way to spend the afternoon after a taxing day. However I feel I would stuff it up right now, so I will do other things which need less concentration. Like ringing John, who enjoyed a concert that happened this afternoon and met someone he knows, Harry who was a worker (the best one) at Orange Blossom Cottage, but left last year. Two positives I am trying to hang onto, he liked an activity and if Harry is there it’s an okay place.

Well you wouldn’t read about it. On the very day that John goes into Baptist Care, Anglicare finally rings, two weeks late and only because I added a comment to their Facebook advertising asking for a call back. (I’ve been deluged with Anglicare ads ever since I’ve been trying to get through to them, go figure?). I explained that John was now sorted but pleaded with her to ring Iris to try to get Logan accommodated. She must have rung straight away as Iris texted from work to say she’d had a call. I should have used that technique earlier as it’s worked so well in the past with Optus and others. Those monitoring Facebook are much more responsive than others in an organisation, fearing you will give them bad comments publicly, something I had refrained from doing. It’s not about satisfying the client, it’s all about PR. I think that minor victory entitles me to a bath, with some smellies and bubblies in it. I’d have a glass of wine too if I were game, but better not tempt fate.

March 21, 2023

Off to a long-planned lunch with Di, Jenny, Greg and Linda at Cockatoo Island. Initially it was planned for John to go too, but we can do the trip another time as I would really like to climb up and revisit the seagull rookery which I discovered accidentally last time we were there. I seemed to field a lot of calls and texts today but they were ones I couldn’t ignore. Iris rang as my pleas to Anglicare on Logan’s behalf bore fruit today when he was offered a place at ARV, but it is in the dementia unit and he doesn’t have a diagnosis of dementia, it’s Parkinson’s. She is naturally wary and asked for a tour, which was denied unless she makes a commitment to admit him. This sounds so unreasonable that I suggested she make the commitment verbally and then do the tour, only going ahead if she’s happy that it’s suitable for him. Also I missed a call from John’s floor at Gracewood which worried me a lot as when I rang back it went to message bank. However the RN Cecelia rang me back to say that John had eaten breakfast and lunch and was socialising and joining in the games. It was good of her to take the time to ring. My sense of it today is that his anxiety is less and he told me he’d had porridge for breakfast and sat next to an ex- fireman, so thankfully he got away from the negative pair he was with yesterday.

I gave up watching Q and A when Stan Grant became the host, he’s just too overbearing and it drives me nuts. Now he’s in bother for talking over Geoffrey Robertson. Why don’t they get rid of the guests and rename it The Stan Grant Show? I’m curious too that he gets darker and darker, I don’t know what that’s about but I watch with interest.

March 22, 2023

The IPCC Report is deeply depressing but not nearly as depressing as the knowledge that it won’t be heeded. How can countries who wage war possibly be interested in climate change and the welfare of the planet? Likewise countries who manufacture weapons (as we do) or plan to spend multiple billions on submarines with highly enriched weapons-grade uranium for fuel? We’re screwed in my humble opinion. By all means continue the protests, but also realise that we’re likely to get the same result as we did trying to stop the Iraq War.

Looking at the photos of convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh, his son Buster and son Paul, whom Alex was convicted of murdering, it occurs to me that they are all very unpleasant looking people. I’m sure that they were all lovely babies, but somehow in that family the boys are clones of a father with very disagreeable looks. Now the bodies of both the family maid and a friend of Buster’s are being disinterred as their deaths are considered suspicious, one already listed by the police as a homicide. Could be more to come in this grisly tale.

This morning I rang John who asked ‘Why am I in hospital when I feel fine?’ so I explained for the umpteenth time that it’s not a hospital and why he is there (‘it must be, there are nurses here’ he said) . He asked again how long he’ll be there and then ‘How many weeks have I been here now?’ Francis the nurse told me that ‘it usually takes a week for people to get used to things and feel more settled’. Luckily I remembered today to notify Centrelink about where he is, so my carer’s allowance can be stopped for the duration. Headed to pre-polling after the visit and gave some assistance, as well as voting. Luckily I had ordered John a postal vote as I’ve seen no messages about voting at Gracewood. He was very clear about his vote and understood the ballot paper perfectly, it’s so strange that he can do that but not remember a phone call he’s had two minutes ago.

10.30 pm: Painting was cancelled tonight due to the teacher being sick, which was a huge relief as I hadn’t done the homework and wasn’t up to being with other people after today. I had looked forward to tonight as I didn’t have to book a carer for John and could just mosey up and back without rushing, but it was not to work out like that. I hadn’t counted on how mentally taxing visiting him would be, but not visiting him is worse. In tears tonight after five phone calls from John between 6 and 8.45 asking where a particular medication is. Each time I explained that all his meds are being held by the nurses and he needs to go and talk to them, each time the answer was ‘Okay I will do that as soon as I hang up’. Then an hour later the same question and he had no idea we’d already discussed it. Finally on the last call I said to take his phone to the nurse while I was on the line so I could ask her myself, but she saw him coming and I heard her say very nicely ‘John I told you before that I’m bringing your medications at 9.30’ so he had probably been asking her after each time he rang me. He is getting worse by the day, but it’s not because of the respite, it’s been happening for a few weeks now. Perhaps it will be a blessing for him when he forgets even more and gets past obsessing about everything.

March 23, 2023

There had to be a crash day for me and this was it. The realisation of how much John’s condition has deteriorated hit me like a hammer, but I think not going to visit today and leaving him with a bus excursion, a visit from Jane and a movie, was probably good for us both. He was so looking forward to the excursion but afterwards he didn’t know if he’d been or not.

When watching the riot outside Mark Latham’s Belfield talk I had the distinct feeling that the people there were the same mob who tried to terrorise us at the Pell demonstration, but dismissed it as unlikely. However my first instincts were correct, when police revealed that the man arrested for assault was also cautioned at the Pell protest and the night before that for cutting down ribbons attached to the cathedral fence. There was a photo and he was the same chap struggling against the police cordon, attempting to get to us. There were no women amongst the group (surprise), they were all dressed in black and all ‘of Middle Eastern origin’. I ask myself if aggression is part and parcel of Lebanese culture or is it a heritable trait? Whichever way I want nothing to do with those passionate religious men of either the Maronite or Muslim bent. I’m sure Chrys Stevenson didn’t realise how prescient her last week’s article on Christofascism would be:

March 24, 2023

I was gently chided today for arriving at 8.30, before the admin staff start, so it’s after 9 am from now on. Kevin arrived about 10.30 and he’s so good with John and with the staff, calling them all by name and having a chat. Just what you’d expect from an ex-priest and then hospital social worker, he had the morning tea server eating out of his hand and we were served tea and pumpkin scones along with John. I left them before lunch, chatting out in the garden. Next week Kevin is bringing Pat, the only remaining serving priest from John’s class and a beautiful human who insists on being called Brother Pat by his flock as he feels Father is a patronising title.

I had some extraordinary luck today. I have been trying to get a ticket to see Joseph Tawadros playing his oud in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons either at the Recital Hall or the Opera House, willing to break my ban on going to concerts for him (I’ve kept a couple of the now unobtainable duck-billed masks for just such a circumstance). But when I tried to get into any of the concerts they were booked out, even the standing room. I mentioned it in passing to Jane and told her that I was surprised that there wasn’t even a solo seat. It turns out that she and Boris had booked and he insisted on giving me his ticket on the grounds that they had also been invited to the rehearsal and he had therefore already seen the concert in its entirety. Talk about serendipity! So Jane and I will be going and I am completely stoked.

Kevin rang to say how much he enjoyed seeing John and acknowledging how much he had deteriorated. At lunch he had no idea where to sit until guided by Kev. Tonight at 10 pm on the dot John rang to say he couldn’t find his medications and we went through the whole scenario of the nurses dispensing them, but he said they hadn’t. Half an hour later he rang again with the same concern so I got him to find a nurse who assured him that they had been given earlier in the evening, so I can only trust that the staff are right on this one and my boy is confused as he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow at the moment.

March 25, 2023

A weird election day when I’m not handing out, but somehow that date didn’t occur to me when I booked the eco dyeing workshop. There was certainly plenty of plant material to choose from, eucalyptus leaves, maples, grevilleas, plus flowers like roses and irises. The first project was a cotton square about the size of a cushion which we covered with leaves, rolled around a fat dowel, tied up and boiled for a couple of hours in a solution with a mordant, in this case alum or another solution made with rust in water. One mix was boiled avocado seeds which put a pink cast on the fabric. Then we attacked a white silk scarf using the same method, only this time I used a mix of leaves and brown onion skins. This one gave a wonderful result that I was very happy with. Next came boiling sheets of  watercolour paper, pressed and tied between two tiles, into which I had pressed a grevillea flower and leaves. This was the least successful, but I can paint over the sections I’m not happy with. Another technique involved hammering flower petals between pieces of paper until the colour leached out into the paper, giving an abstract colourful design. I am fired up by the possibilities of these techniques and enjoyed it more than the painting.

On the way home I visited John with a leftover rose from the class and stayed till his dinner was served. He was the best I’ve seen him so far, quite relaxed and happy. Woo-hoo we might be over the worst.

March 26, 2023

John and I had a wager on the election result but it’s too soon to know who collects the prize. John said Labor would pick up 11 seats and I said 7, we shall see later in the week who won the bet but the most important contest is for the government of NSW, now firmly back in Labor hands. Perrottet’s concession speech was the most gracious I’ve heard and Minns followed suit. It was a very satisfying evening despite the lack of the usual seafood and champagne. I’d had cheese and crackers at the dyeing workshop so I settled for a glass of milk and called it dinner.

Carole invited me over to watch Insiders on a day when that invitation worked perfectly with the existing plans, going with Jane to the Tawadros brothers concert with the Australian Chamber Orchestra at the Opera House. The doorman to our section was none other than my friend Robert Tuzee so a big hug ensued and that was a wonderful start to the event. Richard Tognetti, playing a 1743 violin, was superb as always, he seemed to lock eyes with Joseph Tawadros through the whole performance and clearly they love playing together. A weird looking instrument sort of like a long necked oud or lute turned out to be a theorbo, who knew? The concert was a great end to a pretty ratty week. Here’s hoping it is a sign of things to come. John didn’t have visitors today as far as I know yet he seemed happy and settled at 6 pm. He wants me to bring a print from his wall tomorrow, a Rembrandt that he lately tells people is a Picasso. I think that indicates that Gracewood is feeling a little more like home to him. I was going to pack the car tonight but apart from his print and some clothes on hangers I’ve decided I’m too tired and it will all have to wait till the morning.

March 27, 2023

Last night I crashed at 8.30 which is pretty pathetic but it’s been a big two days. But this morning I was up early and energetically packing the car in the rain, but who cares about rain when I am getting away? Loaded up summer and winter clothes, books, all the weekend papers and the house insurance bill to pay. Got to John at 9.15 and he was happy, particularly because I brought his print to hang. Later I found out that he’d requested a handyman to come to his room to move the picture-hanging cords together so the hooks are all behind the picture and not visible. I could have done that but I think that he was enjoying the idea of getting someone in there to talk about the picture. Francis his nurse came and sat with us for a chat, he’s such a lovely young man who said he could earn a lot more money elsewhere but he loves working with old people. He used to be an agency nurse and has worked in about 30 aged care homes from Wollongong to Newcastle but says Gracewood is the best by far, citing the quality of the nursing and the food as standouts. My drive to Leura in rain was uneventful and I decided to have a salad for lunch at Leura Deli but it was on more of a platter than a plate so I had to ask for a takeaway box for half of it, there’s more than enough for lunch tomorrow. Posted Carly’s birthday presents at Leura, after adding a magpie brooch and a small rusted metal bird figure that I saw in With Max and Me, a favourite shop in the Mall. Then to Fairmont where the concierge unloaded my car and took everything to the room while I booked in, commenting on the big pack of rocky road he saw at the top of a bag, a gift for Dav and Louis as I explained, though I’m not sure he was convinced. Cecilia from Gracewood rang to say that the Valium, which John takes very rarely to sleep, wasn’t in his drug supply though I am almost certain it went in with him. I’m either mistaken or it walked before she came to lock it up as required, but I promised to take more in on Thursday. Went for a walk in the grounds here and although the pool looked inviting I decided to leave that till tomorrow and just enjoy a restful time in the room catching up on the weekend papers which I’d had no time to read.

Dinner was a small bowl of soup and I was hoping to have the delicious sounding caramel tart with champagne sorbet, but no way could I fit it in. No wining and dining here by the looks of it but in some ways that’s a good thing, although I know that when I am craving these lovely dishes some time later at home they won’t be an option. Still haven’t got to the papers, but will try before next weekend’s arrive. On 7.30 tonight there was a report on killing pigs with CO2, just appalling stuff, which must be devastating to the brave man who broke into the piggery to film. Made me glad I keep up my contributions to Animals Australia and very glad that I had corn soup for dinner.

March 28, 2023

I’m not at all sure that I agree with Minns’ decision to keep Gareth Ward out of Parliament if he wins his seat. Accusations are not a finding of guilt, he needs to be given the benefit of the doubt until he’s convicted, unless of course there is filmed proof of violence for example. John went to a Housing Conference years ago and was very impressed with Ward’s address, he was the relevant minister at the time. He said it was as if he were listening to a Labor pollie. But we’ll see how it all plays out, he may yet lose to the Labor candidate which solves that immediate problem, but if he is acquitted after losing his seat due to the charges it will leave a sour taste.

This morning I wanted to go to the bank but the Leura one has long closed, so I went to Katoomba for opening time. The main street is a sad affair now, quite a lot of shops for lease, the poor old Paragon Cafe still vacant after all these years. It was such a drawcard, its 1916 Art Deco interior as well as the lovely sweet offerings saw a line out of the door every weekend. The landlord refused to repair the water damage or reduce the rent back in 2018, so he’s had no money coming in ever since then, which seems a ridiculous business decision. While waiting for the bank to open I wandered up to an antique shop to see what he had but it was closed, however the cafe was open and the waitress informed me that ‘he’s retired but he comes in and opens at the weekends….sometimes’. I have had dealings with the chap and he’s at the chancy end of the dealer population so I’m not sorry to hear that he’s getting out of the game, however the 2 storey shop seemed packed with stock so who knows what’s going on. There was a free paper there that looked a bit interesting and so it proved to be. Called The Light it’s a 16 pager with anti-vax articles, anti-WHO, one on the New World Order which manages a large photo of Hitler and Mussolini, anti-trans, anti-refugee, anti pretty much everything really. I tried to pick up a copy without being seen, not that anyone would care as they were proudly holding copies but perhaps they were just curious like me. Katoomba is a hotbed of hippies and alternatives so they have a ready made market. Remember when the hippies were all for inclusion and loving their fellow man?

Just rang GIO to somewhat alter and then pay my home and contents insurance. Speaking to Darren in the Philippines I as usual asked simple things like the time there, the temperature, his city etc. At the end of the transaction he said ‘I’m sending virtual hugs to you’ which I of course sent back and then got off the phone in tears, not that he would have been aware. Somehow those distant contacts with a disembodied voice in a far-off land always make me feel wistful, imagining their different lives and circumstances, such as riding a motor bike through Manilla traffic as in this case. His virtual hugs really hit the target today.

March 29, 2023

I always enjoy hearing the views of constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey, but today I was particularly pleased to see her on the front page of the SMH echoing my opinion regarding Gareth Ward’s exclusion from parliament due to historical sex charges, which he denies. As Twomey says, the voters went into the election ‘with eyes wide open’ about the accusations, and wanted him anyway, so in one way I’m kind of glad that he’s cocked a snoot at the Liberals by standing as an independent and I doubt he will be too keen to side with them after the way he’s been treated. Minns needs to rethink his exclusion policy.

I think if I owned this place I would employ a painter fulltime and then a peeling exterior wall or handrail could be attended to without waiting till there was a heap of work to do. There seems to be a very big staff about the place and one lowly painter wouldn’t add too much to wages bill. The cost of running this outfit is a bit mind-blowing to think about, all the reception, catering, pool maintenance, gardening people everywhere. All things considered I think the tariff is reasonable and I just love the spaciousness of the place, its bush outlook and the grounds.

I did a stupid thing this afternoon and watched half of a 4 minute police video which was on the news on the computer. It was bodycam and I suddenly realised that I was falling sideways off the chair so I turned it off immediately. But the damage was done. I decided to walk it off, which sometimes works, and went outside to pad along a bush track and around the little lake, but unfortunately the world was spinning so I came back to the room, darkened the place and had a short sleep. You’d think I would have learned by now, but later I went to the pool and did some swimming so all was not lost.

John seems to be quite settled. He had four visitors today and when I rang him this afternoon he didn’t seem to want to talk but I discovered I’d interrupted a game of bingo so I will ring later.


































Category(s): Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *