Life Notes 13

January 20, 2024

Mark informs me that the total of my blog now has more words than War and Peace, so I am starting a new iteration before the thing chokes on the upload. We are not long back from the pool. I only took cash which they no longer accept so I thought I’d have to go home for a card, but no, she let us in free. I offered to pay double next week but she said not to worry about it, poor old things she was thinking. John loved it just as much as last week and apparently Waves is open all year so we can go to the heated pool in winter too. I noticed that his sun hat was starting to lose some feathers so when we got back I repaired it with some craft glue. It’s a genuine Panama which I bought him at Strand Hatters years ago in a fit of madness, hand woven in Ecuador (not keen to go there at the moment to replace it!). I’m not sure what the feathers are, quail maybe? but they are darling and I’d be very disappointed if he lost even one of them.

Thinking about the wretched US supply of bombs to Israel and it occurs to me that it’s not just about wanting to keep some control in the Middle East, but not wanting to lose votes amongst the Evangelical Christians, who are far more numerous than Jewish people I’m imagining. In their world view, the 1947-8 creation of Israel was a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy and the Palestinians either don’t count at all or are ‘the enemies of God, because they are the enemies of the State of Israel’. The Christian Zionists believe that four thousand years ago God promised the land to the Jewish people, who will rule it until the rapture and then the second coming of Christ. In this scenario, Christians will be saved and ascend to heaven while those adhering to other religions will be sent to hell. There’s also a big slice of US voters who also believe in the ‘prosperity gospel’ who think that blessing Israel results in personal and financial gain. Considering that the polls tell us these folks are largely Trump supporters it would be a brave president who riles them in an election year. So Palestinians in that sense could be seen to be the victims of the election cycle, if indeed Biden would act in their favour at any other time, which of course is doubtful. Soon Israel will have killed as many people in Gaza as died in the Nazi attacks on London over eight months, but he’s managed it in less than four.

January 21, 2024

Sue came yesterday afternoon and we all dined together here, with a bottle of Taylors shiraz which she brought. Lots of discussion about her need to clean out her mother’s cottage at ARV asap since she has moved into the nursing home. Sue had rung the Sallies to arrange a pickup of those items that were not assigned to various family members, nor wanted by anyone. Today she asked if we could go with her to the house for an opinion about whether the Sallies would be willing to take those things. The answer was a resounding yes, but the fact is that everything is far too good for that. Her parents had great taste in antiques with Belleek, Moorcroft, Wedgwood, Doulton, Maley and others of their ilk as well as bronzes, antique clocks and alabaster. So she was looking to potentially send a load to Barsbys Auctions when everyone has had their picks. It was soon obvious that there were other views on that topic so I decided to beat a hasty retreat, not wanting to get involved in family dynamics.

Carly has been told by Foreign Affairs that they need a copy of her will before she goes away (what will?) so there’s another task to add to the very many piling up. The stress must be getting to her as the days count down, it’s certainly getting to me.

John rang four times within 15 minutes tonight. He’s lost: his new diary (the previous one I bought him has never been found), his Akubra, his football jumper and something else I’ve forgotten. Now he’s just rung again and his phone charger has disappeared over the weekend. I’m wondering if someone is going into his room while he’s away, because the charger is a fixture in the power point. I used to lock his room at weekends but because of Covid outbreaks I haven’t been going upstairs and he would never lock it himself.

January 22, 2024

Today I’m planning to investigate landlord insurance for Carly. Have quite a few companies to start with and I’m sure one will pull away from the pack once I concentrate on it. Also filling out the pages of forms to get a Companion Card for John so I can take him to more music and theatre. Swimming has been a great discovery, but music is important too so hopefully it will go through without problems. I thought I was going to have to make another complaint about non-delivery of the Monday Herald, but on my second trip out to look for it at 7.45 the man arrived and hurled it well onto the property, instead of the road or the verge as usual. The sight of the old bird in her dressing gown gave more power to his arm. No letters of mine published over the last few days, which is fine, but I am incensed that in the last few days not one letter about Netanyahu’s pronouncement about Israel going ‘from the Jordan to the sea’ has been printed. How is that not major news? Is the Herald following others in caving in to the small but influential Zionist lobby?

John’s tablemate told me on Saturday that she was assaulted by another resident. She didn’t report it but two other people who saw it happen reported to management so she was called down to discuss the matter. Then police came and took him away for questioning, later returning him and she describes that he ‘went back to lording over everyone as usual and constantly complaining about the place, the staff and everything else’. I’m not sure if it’s the same man that John complained about re his inappropriate dress at meals, but she is seriously considering leaving Gracewood and going to live with her daughter after less than 12 months. I would not want to be in the position of trying to sort that mess out. In fact I am temperamentally unsuited to any position in that place or its ilk.

Read an interesting obituary of Sydney Jewish doctor George Cohen who was born in South Africa and worked alongside missionary Albert Schweitzer, providing free medical care to a leper colony in French Equatorial Africa. He served in South Africa’s parliament on an anti-apartheid ticket before migrating to Australia. He was active in supporting marriage equality and as a result his daughter Dawn could marry her partner of 40 years. What a life, sadly ended by heart failure as a result of a fall and hip replacement surgery. This is the trifecta, George Pell and Barry Humphries coming to their end in the same circumstances.

January 23, 2024

Thinking about the demise of Pell, Humphries and Cohen it is a bit surprising in the sense that they were all hip operations, even though we’re always told that knee surgery is much more problematic. However statistics also tell us that elderly people who break a hip are 60% more likely than their unaffected peers to die in the next 12 months.

It’s only 9 am but I’ve already had five calls from John and I’ve made five on his behalf. There is a downstairs garden at Gracewood which can be entered from a door near the coffee shop. Because John has missed the excursion bus twice recently I advised him to go to the foyer early so as not to repeat that disappointment. He decided to wander around the garden while he was waiting, but then found the door was locked when he tried to get back in, so he rang me in a bit of a panic. I then tried his nurse who didn’t answer, the floor above likewise, another nurse, same story, the main desk (she doesn’t start till 9.30), and finally the retirement village next door. But eventually John alerted somebody through a window and they let him out. Was the door actually locked? was he trying the wrong door? where is the phone charger? where is his Akubra? Let’s just hope he doesn’t miss the bus.

Today was set aside to organise the Companion Card application. A day? Surely not. But it’s 2.30 and I have just managed to get it done. First a trip to Bob for him to sign his part of the 6 pages, mine having been done prior. He was running very late so an hour passed there waiting. He told me that I need to get a shingles vaccination and also that they have none! I asked at the desk if I could put my name down to be informed when some doses arrive but they have nothing set up to do that, so I decided not to get shingles in the coming weeks or months. Next I went to Services NSW to hand in the paperwork, but they don’t accept applications for this card. Someone valiantly tried to assist me by scanning the documents but then said that it had to be a passport photo of John not the phone camera one I’d artfully done (which in fact looks like a police mugshot, but anyway). So another hour passed there during which I phoned the relevant department and spoke to a super helpful lady who suggested that I post the forms in and email the photo as is, not requiring a passport one. Getting home I decided that photographing the pages of the document and emailing them along with the photo of John should do the trick and shortly after I got confirmation that it had arrived. I need a secretary.

Another panicked call from John, he’s lost the good ‘suit’ hat he’s been wearing while he can’t find his Akubra. I’m sure he would have taken it out this morning as he did in fact make it on to the bus trip, perhaps it’s on the bus. But he now has a telephone charger again. ‘Where did you find it?’ ‘No, it just appeared’. I did advise him to see if he could borrow one from either the staff or a resident until I can buy a new one, but now he has no idea if he did this or not. I am used to dealing with this stuff once a week but doing so more than once a day is getting tough.

January 24, 2024

Stayed last night at Erko ready to take Millie to the first session of Wonka at Palace Central. I discovered that the smallest size popcorn (ugh) is massive and Millie had more than enough to finish despite spilling some. The movie was absolutely wonderful, I think I enjoyed it more than she did. I don’t know how they do the special effects but I dips me lid. There were only two other people in the theatre of just 34 seats and the sat right in front of us but happily they moved. Millie sat on the floor for much of the movie peeking between the seats in case it got scary, at one stage disappearing behind the wall curtains next to us for the same reason apparently. Then off by tram to Wynyard and a walk to Barangaroo where we lunched at The Canteen which gave us a good choice of cuisines at reasonable prices, the serving size for $15 meant that I brought half of mine home for dinner. We loved the blow-up octopus floating on the harbour and the ferry trip to Circular Quay from where we trained home to St. Peters. By then I was barely able to walk the rest of the way but we got there. Altogether a great day out.

January 25, 2024

New Zealand’s list of banned baby names is taking things much too far. Among those banned are Princess (I know one person with this name in Australia), Queen (this was the name of an elderly shop client, now dead but she was in her 90s), Justus (an ex Archbishop of Canterbury) and Isis, a not uncommon female first name being Greek for throne. I am hardly a libertarian but all of this is a step too far for me. Then the new conservative PM in NZ is trying to follow the US culture wars (or following our Coalition who are following US culture wars) by messing with the Waitangi Treaty. Don’t do it my friend, Maori people will rise up in the streets, they are a warrior culture.

Preparing for book group tomorrow by making a Persian Love Cake and buying up berries for an Eton Mess. Only 7 people altogether but it will be worthwhile as I’m sure we all enjoyed the book, Wifedom.

John’s missing bits and pieces seem to be sorted out, but in one case disastrously. His phone charger ‘appeared’, his formal hat ‘appeared’ but his beloved Akubra was returned from the laundry (where it went only for a name tag after someone noticed that it didn’t have one) completely ruined. They had put it through an industrial washing machine and dryer! Despite a large tag saying it could not be washed or dried in any way, only sponged clean or with dry cleaning fluid. It cost $250 years ago and they are a lot more than that now. He is pretty devastated about it and wants me to formally complain.

The elderly Brisbane couple caught red-handed keying the sides of a Tesla and a BMW have pleaded guilty after being caught on camera. He says after being told to pay about $3500 in damages that he’ll pay them at $50 a fortnight: ‘Electric cars, I’d never buy one, not that I could afford one, I’d love to see a Tesla pulled up on the side of the road on fire. I’d get out and I’d stand there and I’d clap.’ Is this sounding like the remorse he talked to the judge about? ‘One person said we keyed a Ford Mustang, which is crazy, because I support blue (Ford) all the way,’ he said as my eyes rolled back in my head.

January 26, 2024

Unbelievably hot outside, it was 32 degrees in the shade of the back verandah at 8 am and very unpleasant when I went out briefly to check the street library. However someone had left a Hamlyn 200 Veggie Feasts book so it was worth going out to snaffle that for Davina who is on a veggie cooking roll. John has an Australia Day Celebration at 10, then an ‘Australian Lunch’ (meat pie with dead ‘orse?) followed by a Happy Hour at 2 so he’s fully occupied, but he doesn’t understand why he’s not included in book group here today, remembering past times when the men met as well.

I read the full list of banned NZ names and it gets worse the more you read, even Fanny a classic name derived from the French is banned. What a job, sitting around looking for double entendres in people’s name choices. King is also banned despite Kingi being a very common Maori surname, which should be open to use as a first name too, in fact I suspect many of the banned names were suggested by Maori people.

Carly has had a bit of a set-back in her preparations for India. Lola had to have a series of rabies vaccinations, which have been done, but the import people in India want the serial number of the vaccine which wasn’t recorded as it isn’t necessary under Australian practice. Now she has to start again on Monday, but the shots are a month apart and must be administered 30 days before departure, hence it looks as if Lola will have to be kept in a cattery here until that time is up, throwing Lola’s trip on Carly’s flight out of the window. Naturally she’s upset.

January 26, 2024

Book group went off swimmingly with 100% of attendees registering respect for the author and great pleasure in reading the book. We sorted out the books and hosting plans for the next 6 months or so, I think I am hosting again in June. We had a mountain of food, even after some people took a doggie bag and I gave Justin and family next door a boxful. Interestingly not one of the 18 lamingtons went, I hate them because of the chocolate and John because of the coconut, so Michelle took a few and some went next door, leaving others in the freezer for some poor sod in the future. Many people spoke of examples of patriarchy in their pasts and presents and others about men who didn’t fit that mould at all, although we agreed that women are so used to it that sometimes we barely notice. It was an elevating discussion.

Just after everyone left Iris rang, very upset at Logan still being in lockdown at ARV where the policy is to lock down everyone if there is a single case, unlike Gracewood which just locks down the wing. She was so upset that I asked her to come over for dinner which she declined, but later rang to say she’d like to come. Iris is vegan and it just happened that Sue was making us a vegan eggplant recipe tonight, so it was meant to be. It was good for them to spend time together because Sue’s mum is now in the very same corridor as Logan and was diagnosed with Covid yesterday morning. It helped for the three of us to be discussing the difficulties of aged care, and the benefits. As a nurse Iris knows this stuff all too well. She and Sue bonded and will no doubt see each other there.

January 27, 2024

After an early breakfast of leftover rock melon and Sue’s delicious cheese spread on some toast she left and I picked up John for a day into the city via the bus. We walked from Wynyard along the harbourside to Pier 2 where we saw the spectacular blow up artwork by British sculptor Michael Shaw called Hi-Vis. It is ‘a luminous, site-specific sculpture wrapping its way round the pillars and ballooning into the space’ of Pier 2/3 and it’s strangely appealing. Wandering around and within it we saw heaps of people painting or sketching it and the quality of their work was astounding, so I assumed they were art students. But no, they were the Sydney Sketch Club who go out together and well, sketch.

I suggested getting the bus to Barangaroo but John wanted to walk and it was delightful doing that. He has more puff than I do and I tire more by the end of a long day. We repaired to The Canteen where I took Millie on Wednesday but instead of being packed with workers it was nigh on empty with the outlet I bought from the other day being closed at weekends! So I bought us a meal from one of the few places open and it was both delicious and huge, we both ate our fill from one meal and took the rest home (note to self: I must make red cabbage cole slaw with dates and feta). Then we wandered to see the octopus, somehow the way that it moves with the waves is quite arresting. Decided to get a ferry to Parramatta but it was standing room only, so we went outside and stood by the edge. After a while a lovely young Indian couple stood up for us, which was good as the trip is over an hour, but the seat was the least of the benefits.

When we were getting off I thanked the couple and asked where they were from. It turned out that they only arrived here two weeks ago from Kerala, so I told them that we had stayed a couple of weeks in Kannur and amazingly that’s exactly where he is from. He knows the guesthouse where we stayed and her father lives near the town where Ram lives south of there. We exchanged numbers and last night Rajin texted to say how much they’d enjoyed our conversation. He suggested ringing Ram and telling him in his native Malayalam that they’d met up with us, so hopefully that will happen. They are looking for a unit to rent so presumably his company has put them up in the meanwhile. What’s the chances of meeting this pair out of 1.4 billion Indians? A walk to the station from the pier nearly finished me off but we got home by evening and ate leftovers for dinner thank goodness.

January 28, 2024

I try to read as many worldwide news outlets as time permits but just looking at the headlines of The Australian is enough to make you slit your wrists, so I can’t do it I’m afraid. Occasionally I see it in the library or somewhere and I browse but honestly it is worse every time. Then we have Kimberley Lynton Williams appointed as head of the ABC, what to make of that? He does have history with the ABC but jumped ship to work for Murdoch. Two things in his favour, he’s a musician and he was a conscientious objector in the Vietnam War, saved from prison only by Whitlam’s election. I cling to those two positives.

We had a dies non today and boy did I need it. John has more stamina than I do and probably could have gone out again. But we pottered in the garden, he watering and me digging tranches for a few days worth of tea bags, tea slops and any sort of food refuse that the possums don’t like. I made Sue’s Chinese Eggplant dish again for lunch, this time adding a green capsicum, John said it was okay (a common description) while I rated it fantastic, but then I get more excited by food than he does. I made enough to see me right for another meal during the week, though I could eat it right now with little encouragement.

In communication with Rosanna about the neo-Nazi arrests in Turramurra she says that the guide hall where they met is just near her house and she walked past it this morning. Apparently the leader Thomas Sewell was staying in the suburb, which isn’t quite where you would expect a common or garden criminal to be domiciled (except for white collar criminals of course) but there you go. Prominent Jewish organisations have compared these people to pro-Palestinian demonstrators but one group wants to rid Australia of ‘coloureds, homosexuals. Communists and Jews’ while the other wants to stop wholesale slaughter in Gaza. Sewell is a long time troublemaker and criminal. I once had Jim Saleam the famous Nazi fellow come into the shop, he was well known for many years from television and print and was later Secretary of the Australia First Party, standing in a number of elections. He is quite dangerous as he’s been convicted of a bombing and various serious assaults as well as having been seen in full Nazi regalia. He wanted me to put up a sign in the shop to complain about the Windsor/Richmond cemetery having a Muslim section. I laughed and said I’ve never heard of anyone being hurt by dead Muslims, but he didn’t see the funny side and his eyes narrowed in a way that was chilling. I made a mental note not to laugh if he came in again. 

January 29, 2024

Despite the forecast suggesting rain for three days, it was hot and brilliantly sunny today. However not so hot that I failed to enjoy a meet-up with friends at the Botanic Gardens. I was so controlled in my ordering after overeating eggplant these last days that I shared half a panini with Jenny, Mediterranean eggplant and capsicum which is funny when you think about it. Luckily there is leftover Chinese eggplant and rice in the fridge so I don’t need to cook tonight. I saw a plant at the nursery there and fell in love with it, but realised that carrying it home would be difficult on two buses. However I was still thinking about it at the end of lunch so I went back and bought it just as they were packing up at 2pm. Because the nursery is staffed by volunteers it only opens 11-2. The lovely Ralph put two little stakes in the pot with some string tied around the plant and I got it home safely. It’s a Crucifix Orchid from Venezuela or Colombia and the flowers look a divine orange. They had done their till so couldn’t take payment but I convinced him to take a $10 note which included a tip and to put it in the till tomorrow. I got off the bus at Baulko as I had secreted the car there to avoid crossing Old Northern Rd and had to walk past St Vinnies. Got an unusual dress for $18 and I’m looking forward to wearing it, although it would look better if I could lose a few pounds. Perhaps the dress will aid that happening.

January 30, 2024

It was reinforced to me yesterday how tenuous is our grip on life these days. In talking to my friends I discovered that one’s husband has bladder cancer, which I knew, and now he has been diagnosed with unrelated mesothelioma. This is a bloke in a cycling club and a bushwalking club who is super fit and thinks nothing of a 12 km walk. Naturally his buoyant personality has been severely dented. Another friend’s husband is dealing with a stroke and may need to go into care and a third has a husband with bowel cancer. I have just passed the 2 year point from my operation and see the surgeon for the six-monthly check-up in a couple of weeks. Strangely I never think about it except when the visit is due. As a perpetual worrier I find that odd, clearly my psyche doesn’t think that death by bowel cancer is my lot.

In the Herald this morning they identified one of the neo-Nazi demonstrators as Jack Eltis a tradie of north western Sydney. Of course I looked him up on Facebook but his page has been closed down, so then I looked up his business, an air-conditioning company which he owns. However no address is listed, it just has Sydney as an address so I was thwarted. But then I had a brainwave, put it in Apple Maps and bingo, his company is in Annangrove, in the next street to Tim in fact. While I certainly wouldn’t have him in my house, it could be counterproductive if his business is completely blacklisted because these people thrive on the belief that the world is against them. He spent his holidays rereading Mein Kampf apparently but I hope his little girl is never mistreated as a result of her father’s beliefs. However I pity any of the hated quadrella: ‘coloureds, homosexuals. Communists and Jews’, who have used him in the past, it would make your home feel violated that’s for sure.

Had lunch with Carol today at Wild Pear, it was delicious as always. I determined to have an entree instead of a main and they had Zucchini Flowers on so there was no contest, alongside the House Hummus and the Cos Salad which we shared, both fabulous. Then they offered dessert, what a silly question when you’ve tasted their pav, so no dinner for moi tonight, just water. Bob was here when I got home, but I couldn’t get him to partake of any of my leftover sweet stuff (are you trying to get rid of it? he asked) so John will have to help with that at the weekend.

January 31, 2024

Early start today on the bus to Brooklyn for a trip on the Riverboat Postman. I absolutely loved the journey, the views, the commentary and the lunch so 10/10 from me. But the biggest thing for me was the number of jellyfish I saw, there must have been tens of thousands along the whole trip, great big beautiful ones that I wanted to play with, dumb as it seems. They were reddish-tinged with the big cross on top, about 25-30 cm across, just like I remember in the lake at The Entrance as a child. I used to carry them about in buckets of water, put them on a board and push them along the water, never had a sting from one though. Hard to photograph them, I took about 30 shots to get one that I was happy with. We passed the original HMAS Parramatta, now a wreck which has been aground there since 1934. The bow and stern sections were subsequently converted into memorials, one at the Maritime Museum and one at Parramatta, the bow and stern having both been cut off the wreck by the Navy to achieve this, perhaps making it the longest ship in history. Also loved stopping at the little settlements, of from 2 to about 100 people which aren’t accessible by road. I noticed that the ferry staff gave a piece of meat to any dog accompanying the mail picker-upper waiting on the wharf and in one case when it was just a boy, he got a bag of lollies. While the people on these bus trips are basically friendly enough, there is certainly no one so far who has been anything more than polite. They tend to sit and look out of the windows rather than going outside, taking photos or interacting with each other. But it’s the trip (and the not driving) that I’m after so I won’t lose sleep over that, I had a ball.

God Chris Minns is a conservative wet blanket, I wouldn’t have picked it when I voted for him. Pandemonium, a concert headlined by rockers Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and Blondie, had been planned for April 25 until Premier Minns stepped in to pull the pin. Of course the move followed criticism from RSL NSW president who claimed his organisation “had not been consulted” (why should they be?) and that a rock concert would intrude on a day for “respect and quiet contemplation”. Bullshit! It’s a day for a dawn service, a march (both of which would be unaffected) and a total piss-up from then on.

February 1, 2024

I sent off a hurried letter to the SMH along the lines of the last paragraph about the cancelled concert but it wasn’t printed. However many important letters were and that’s the main thing. This morning I’ve been dealing with a carpet layer in Canberra who is going to repair her carpet where Lola has used it for a scratching post in order to demand entry to the bedroom. Luckily he could come on Saturday. Finally the Lola rabies vaccination drama seems to have been sorted with countless emails to and from India, many visits to the vet and documents signed and stamped. Carly has an address over there, in Anand Niketan, an upmarket suburb home to many diplomats, now she just needs the visa to come through and she’s sorted.

John rang me very excited with ‘big news’ which was that he’d had a haircut, forgetting that I was the one who recommended it this morning. Usually I give him cash but this time he was told ‘it’s all sorted’ so presumably that means I will get a bill. He was proud that he’d found the hairdresser downstairs and sorted it all out himself. In conversation with Lynne this morning she told me about a few things that Ivan used to do when suffering from dementia, such as driving 20 kilometres to Penrith after his licence was cancelled in an unlicensed and unregistered car, getting out of the day care facility and walking home and repeatedly trying to buy a phone from Optus after his was taken away. This morning I visited an old man down the road, the same age as John but looking 10 years older. He lets me take bark from his front yard for using on my garden and to line pots, so I took him a couple of bits of cake.

I’ve had a few calls from Tim and the latest ‘offer’ from his siblings is as follows: the house is to be sold and the money divided three ways, which is bad enough when he built it, but the kicker is in the small print. Everything in the house and his dad’s attached flat is up for grabs; each person to do a ‘walk-through’ choosing one item until there’s nothing left. Except while the furniture in the flat is nothing special, Tim’s two storey house is packed with a lifetime collection of antiques and artworks in every room, not one piece of which belonged to his father. Of course he’s said no, but this seems to be never-ending, putting up scenarios that they know he will never accept, presumably to bankrupt him with legal fees. He sounds sad when he hears I’m out and about, I think the only time he goes off the property is when he has legal appointments.

February 2, 2024

Got a letter up in the SMH today on Chris Minns’ silly Anzac Day concert ban. A typical stuff-up between departments of the same government, coupled with a powerful lobby group being heeded by an immature politician. They wet themselves if the RSL, the horse-racing industry, the gambling industry or the Jewish lobby make it known that they are unhappy, in fact often even before they are unhappy!

Had a great swim at Waves this morning. It was quite busy with the Northholm Grammar School having their swimming carnival in the biggest pool but not the one I usually swim in. I was amazed to see that all of the students have expensive-looking swimming togs with their school name on them, that was a new one for me. Came home in time to finish off the last of the Chinese eggplant for lunch and resisted the desired bread to have with it, even though Sue brought me some loaves of my favourite from Killcare yesterday. The problem with finding bread that you love is that it makes a lovely addition to whatever else you are eating, or just a crust and butter for no reason, but I need to make room for a fancy dinner tonight.

Saw on 7.30 an item about the Metro rail construction chief, querying the fact that two highly-paid contractors, earning more than departmental secretaries, were also running consultancy firms awarded work with the agency. It reminded me of going to a luncheon on the deck of said chief’s waterfront home a few years back. It was an interesting day with people trying to find out what others did for a crust and whether there was any way they could ‘intersect’. Despite saying I was just a small-time antique dealer, I still have a couple of business cards from people who said to ‘give me a ring if I can ever be of assistance’. So far I haven’t needed to call in their services. I was seated next to an academic from the Notre Dame medical school and we had an exchange of emails for a while on issues of belief, medicine and prisons, some things that we both had a special interest in.

I may have said this before, in fact I’m sure I have, but I get very bored with designers and architects following fashion. Just seeing high-rise buildings with vertical slabs of colour will forever be a sign that they were built in the 2020s, ghastly lime greens and yellows through to various shades of shit as seen in buildings on Delhi Road, close to the M2, whenever I go to town. Just as the 1960s was all about the horizontal, the past couple of decades are all about the vertical. Every two-storey house seems to have square columns at the front accentuating the vertical. Why do all that study just to draw the same boring fashionable houses over and over?

February 3, 2024

Great dinner last night at Lazy Thinking restaurant at Dulwich Hill, courtesy of Carol and Jack, for anyone who helped with the cake baking last year. The food was exceptional and the service very warm and friendly. A rousing rendition of I am Australian was enjoyed by all. It’s a pity that the place is so damned far from here or I would pop in from time to time to time, even just for a drink and a snack.

Today I picked John up for the weekend as usual and it occurred to me that Janene always comes down to the foyer with him now, which is odd as she is in a different wing altogether so how does she know exactly when I’m coming? John said it was a pity that she couldn’t come with us to First Saturday as I had suggested, except I didn’t suggest it. However he said he’d asked her, saying that I would drop her back to Gracewood and she had said no apparently. I really enjoyed the afternoon for many reasons, the topic being one that interested me (the Vikings), the company in general and meeting a chap called Alan who, when I first spoke to him, immediately said ‘I hear that you are a court watcher, so am I’. So we compared trials and courts and judges. He emails himself a brief summary of the judge’s expected final decision and then compares his own with the official one when it’s handed down, even I don’t do that. He watched the Lehrmann defamation trial and asked me for an opinion on the final result, which I gave him and it agreed with his summation completely, though we could both be completely off the mark of course. We shall see. The closest I come to that habit is at the weekend bail court when I note briefly whether I would give a chap (it’s almost always a chap) bail or not, comparing it to the judge’s decision over many cases, and we mostly concur. Barry asked John for his email to keep in touch as it turns out that they were both in the seminary together, but I need to contact Barry as I would be very surprised if the email given is the correct one. He suggested that John join a Zoom group for their compatriots every Thursday but I’m not sure how that would work as John can no longer use a computer and certainly can’t Zoom. Whether Gracewood staff could help him I’m not sure.

February 4, 2024

I asked John this morning what we did yesterday and unusually he remembered much of it, however when I asked for his email address it was completely wrong so I’ve emailed Barry the right one. Yesterday I brought home from Gracewood the monthly printed colour newsletter of many pages, it’s the way I find out what goes on out there. There were heaps of photos including one of John singing, walking a dog! and doing some sort of exercise routine. It also forecasts upcoming events such as a Valentine’s Day high tea and shopping trips which I got him to write in his diary. But I also got some sort of cockeyed email from Gracewood entitled ‘acuity scheduling’ about visiting and ‘external excursions’ which I intend to completely ignore. It has times to ‘book in a visit to your loved one from 10 am to 2.40 pm daily’. But even worse is the ‘family gatherings and external excursions’ section which has times from 10 am to 3 pm when residents can be picked up, saying ‘the visit/excursion should be limited to 2 to 4 hours’. What sort of bullshit is this? Has the place become a prison? I will not respond to it but if asked why I haven’t used the ‘acuityscheduling’ app I shall fire with both barrels.

This morning I asked John if he wanted a swim at Waves and he said no, but that he was happy to watch me. Knowing that he would want one I suggested he wear his togs just in case and as soon as we got there he was in and swimming laps. I did the same and then tried out the heated pool with a view to swimming there next winter, which would be blissful. I’m thinking of going to Boy Charlton Pool, a venue I love, when John is at Nelune next week. We came home for a lunch of salad rolls and I put on an episode of Hoarders, an SBS show about extreme hoarders in the US. I never watch SBS but I got an email from them about this show, which was a bit creepy as if they somehow know that I’ve got a dose of this gene, as my storeroom and garage attests. John wasn’t interested but I loved it and will watch more.

Carly is proud that she dropped off her dry cleaning and was able to greet the lady in Hindi and understand the reply. She starts the formal lessons this week. She’s stocking up on heaps of stuff that they’ve told her may be hard to source in India, this will go in the ‘uplift’ but it takes 6 weeks to get there so she needs to take in her luggage enough clothes, toiletries etc etc to last that 6 weeks. It’s getting very complicated with instructions hither and thither, but she’ll get there in the end.

February 5, 2024

What is this obsession with piling flowers on the spot where a death has taken place? Okay, send the rellos flowers, but in TV footage about the murder of a Brisbane grandmother there was footage of not only bunches of flowers, but potted orchids being piled up. They won’t be watered, no one will take them and they’ll die, what a waste of money as well as a waste of effort on behalf of the grower. Florists must be laughing though.

While I am on a bitching session I may as well continue: I am constantly amazed at how little people understand about politics. Nothing could show this up more than the number of times I hear people mention something bizarre like Nazi Communists, which was what the man on Hoarders called those who were the local equivalent of our councillors, trying to get him to clean his joint up. Similarly I’m sure that the high school students (always boys) who are reported as giving Nazi salutes wouldn’t have a clue about the history they are embracing.

Two doors up, Jeet and his wife Rina are planning to build a 5000 square foot house, demolishing the one in which they now live. But there’s a big problem: it will block out 100% of the sun in Arvind’s backyard and onto the verandahs across the back of the house, only his pool right at the back will be spared. It is so tall that the shadow cast comes across my property by 3 metres, affecting both the sun and the amenity of my deck. I wasn’t included in the automatic council request for objections as I’m two houses away but I will be putting one in anyway. Apparently the next house along to the applicant is going to be a similar size and that’s already passed council. I will soon live in a street of mansions.

Too hot to garden, so I spent my time listing some costume jewellery on eBay today. I have well over 100 pairs of clip-on earrings from the 1950s. 60s and 70s that I’ve been gunna list and haven’t. That show Hoarders has motivated me so I am trying to sell them at 20 pairs per listing asking $40 for each group and we’ll see how they go. I bought them years ago from the widower of a socialite from Roseville, who lived in one of those two-storey Deco houses that always remind me of a cruise ship, the inside with its sweeping staircase did nothing to change that thought. There were photos everywhere of this woman at the races, the theatre, at luncheons, always dressed to the nines. But it puzzled me why her jewellery collection was somewhat down market, she must have gone for variety. As well as the earrings I have shoe boxes full of fake pearl necklaces too. Her wardrobe was about 30 feet long and full of clothes but I didn’t even look at them. The jewellery wasn’t right for the shop I decided and the auctions wouldn’t take it so I was left with it till now. Fingers crossed.

February 6, 2024

Today was John’s treatment day and I decided yesterday to pack my swim bag to fill in the waiting time at Boy Charlton Pool. However it was raining this morning and the forecast was for rain in town, so plan B emerged to go to a movie at Palace. But the traffic was terrible today and it took us way longer than usual to get there, plus John had to have a blood test upstairs and there was confusion about the form, so by the time I got him settled at Nelune it was too late for the movie. Plan C evolved only because I realised we needed some petrol and there aren’t any options around Darlinghurst so I decided to drive to Bondi (only one servo in that whole journey, so they aren’t too many over there). I parked at one end of the beach and walked along the shopfront, only to find nothing interesting at all, just branches of shops you get everywhere with lots of foodie places but nothing much different to Castle Hill. So I went for a walk and enjoyed seeing the sea and feeling the wind. It wasn’t raining and a swim would have been very possible, but of course I didn’t bring the togs. Met a lovely young man called Matteo who is Italian but has been in Spain for 6 years. He’s only just arrived and already has a job as a waiter at Icebergs. Ultimately I sat reading my book at Bondi until John was ready, it used to always be 3 hours but now it’s never less than 4 and sometimes more.

My protestations about his ruined Akubra ended in a result, but not a completely satisfactory one. They admitted responsibility and bought him a new hat, but he assures me that the label inside says that it’s made of…….paper. I will get him to bring it home on Friday so I can check, perhaps it’s straw as paper seems weird. John has been complaining for a while about a fellow who comes to every meal in shorts and a singlet. He complained to the staff and nothing happened, but yesterday John was watering the garden and the man was sitting in the gazebo so he told him that he loved everything about Gracewood, the staff, the activities, the design of the building, but the only thing he doesn’t like is this man coming to meals dressed like that. The fellow apparently took the criticism well, saying ‘I must rectify that’ but came to breakfast similarly dressed…..we shall see who wins this battle over time.

February 7, 2024 (written 8/2)

Today I went on the bus trip to Woronora, somewhere I’ve passed on the overbridge but never gone down to actually see. We stopped at Picnic Point to check out that part of the Georges River, but somehow between floods and loud jet skis and skiers on the water at weekends, I wasn’t wishing for one of the mansions there. Eventually we got to The Boathouse, a lovely riverside venue where we were booked for lunch. The pre-ordered lunch was a while in coming so of course we chattered around the table, including to a new couple on their first bus trip. He opined that we shouldn’t worry ‘about climate change and all that, let the next generation sort it out’ when she chimed in that ‘that’s right, but the next generation is so hopeless’ to which one of the group asked why. ‘Always doing demonstrations’ was the reply. I think the other two women at the table were as equally offended by all this as I was, but we just changed the subject to the lunch ‘how far is it from here to the Fish Markets?’ he asked apropos of his slow order of squid and chips and then there was a later comment about the fire at Grill’d in Baulkham Hills being a Jewish stocktake, a comment that went over my head completely. It turned out that they are both members of Probus, which didn’t surprise me as I’ve heard some pretty racist and right-wing stuff coming from others in that group, which is why I’ve been hesitant to join despite enjoying a couple of their events. (I later discovered that a ‘Jewish stocktake’ is a disparaging comment alleging Jews light fires in their own shops in order to claim the insurance, a ridiculous proposition considering that the restaurant had only just opened when the kitchen fire occurred). Apparently Grill’d advertised 174 free burgers on Tuesday to celebrate the re-opening and there was a queue around the block, perhaps that was one for each day closed, I’m not sure, but it was an epic refit. Anyway although they were a very friendly pair they were tiresome in the extreme, but I played nice.

The return trip was without incident (on the way there a tyre stripped off a double semi-trailer and our driver had to do some fancy steering to avoid it, I would not have liked to deal with in a car). But part way home I started to get symptoms of vestibular migraine so I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Sadly though it didn’t work and by the time we got to Oatlands to drop someone off (I am amazed that Oatlands is in our Shire) I called out to the driver to drop me off asap. He delivered two others on the way unfortunately so by the time I got home it was too late and I threw up immediately upon leaving the bus and a couple more times before getting to the door. The driver must be thanking his lucky stars as I still had one foot on the bus step when it started. I am disappointed as I’d got through the other bus trips unscathed, but this was both long and windy. So that was me finished for the rest of the day unfortunately.

February 8, 2024

Last week Martha asked if I wanted to go to KOI for morning tea one day as she had seen Reynold Poernomo cooking on a television programme. My only free day this week was today so despite feeling pretty fragile after yesterday I didn’t want to pull out. Almost all of the desserts are different to last time I was there, I chose a Strawberry, watermelon, chia seed and rose jar while Martha went for the Black Forest jar with raspberries. Superb. Reynold’s mother came out to say hello which she always does when I go, although my visits are so rare that I’m not sure why she remembers me.

Weeks ago I asked Martha if she wanted to go to Divas, a performance at Riverside. She said she couldn’t go because of a Probus dinner at Castle Hill which she invited me to go to instead. I booked and paid for that as I haven’t been to this Lebanese restaurant, Two Brothers. Then I got an email offering me two free tickets on the same night to Divas so Martha suggested that I cancel the restaurant and go with someone else. I tried to do just that but all the tickets were gone, so I stuck with the restaurant booking. Now this afternoon Martha emailed to say that Riverside has offered her two tickets for the price of one to Divas, so now we are doing both the restaurant and the show, weird how it’s worked out.

It is puzzling and disturbing to read that 80% of British Conservative MPs are members of Conservative Friends of Israel. According to a documentary on Britain’s Channel Four programme, donations to the Conservative party ‘from all CFI members and their businesses add up to well over £10m over the last eight years’. They also fund the individual election funds of their members and supporters. CFI member James Cleverly, foreign secretary since September 2022, has backed Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians including halting water, electricity and food from going into the Gaza Strip. One wonders about how many of our politicians belong to a similar group here? The groups here are more diversified it seems, but working to the same aims. Pro-Israel lobbying is the domain of three different organisations: the Zionist Federation, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and and the Australian Israel and Jewish Affairs Council but they don’t seem to mention their membership numbers from what I’ve been able to glean. However since 2002, AIJAC alone has hosted more than 500 Australian journalists, politicians and senior public servants on guided tours of Israel. Some politicians privately deride the tours as propaganda exercises, yet they are a powerful advocacy tool used by the organisation to build political support and sympathy for Israel. What hope do Palestinians have of putting forward their view?

February 9, 2024

Well last night I reminded John that he had a haematologist’s appointment here tomorrow afternoon via Zoom. It was booked six months ago, so I told him I would be picking him up for it Friday morning to which he agreed. Later I realised that I hadn’t received the usual Zoom link so I phoned the hospital and they said someone would ring me back. Much later a new doctor rang to say that she has taken over John’s case and is not happy that he has been seen recently only on Zoom so she had rung him and changed the appointment to a face-to-face one on a day next week, a day which I can’t do. I explained that in future she needs to make any changes with me, then rang John who confirmed that he knew all about it but didn’t think he needed to mention it. Then he said ‘oh I’ve also got an appointment with the cardiologist next week and they rang me up to say that I need a new referral’. If the doc had said meet me in the carpark at 7pm wearing a blue shirt he would still have faithfully written it down in the diary. I’ve managed to change appointments, but it shows how the wheels can fall off when they ring John. Later I realised that his first appointment is on Valentine’s Day at 1.30 so I booked for lunch at bill’s just around the corner as a surprise, but thinking about it later I guess everything is a surprise. However I’m sure he will enjoy it.

So I had a free day today and decided to go to Palace at Central to see the movie Anatomy of a Fall, however to my great surprise I discovered that it is on at the Towers. A French film at the Towers, who would credit it? So I drove up to the Mall at 9.30 am to discover not a single car spot, just queues of cars driving around looking. I thought perhaps they were having lion dancing like they did last year for Chinese New Year, and yes they are having it but not until the weekend. It was all about the food! Long lines at the fruit market, the butcher and the duck shop but the queue at the fish shop went out of the door, along with my plan to have fish for dinner. I seemed to be the only non-Chinese walking through at the time I was there, it is usually pretty much that way, but today it was 100% so it was a cheap trip to Hong Kong. Forget how the fishmonger looks on Good Friday Eve and Christmas Eve, this was double that and if the smaller stores don’t sell out today I’ll eat my hat. Hopefully one day I will get to go to one of these family festivities and see how it all ends up on the plate.

But then the movie: oh my goodness me, it’s a 10/10. Superb performances from every actor and it had me from the first minute, but I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone else by going any further. That doctor yesterday did me one big favour, perhaps I would have missed this great film otherwise, plus I’m still wobbly since being sick on Wednesday, needing to hold on to things as I walk, so it’s good that I’ve got another day before I have to look after John.

February 10, 2024

Picked John up as usual and did some shopping on the way home. Went down to the fridge in the garage to put some things in the freezer and smelled death straight away. The fridge was off and everything in the freezer was rotten. On Wednesday power went off in the kitchen while I was making some toast for a scratch dinner, so I assumed that the toaster had died. The safety switch was off so I thought I was clever in simply putting it back on and planned to ditch the toaster. I wish now that I’d asked Arvind for help. However it turns out that it was actually the power board into which the fridge was plugged that had blown. I am not tall enough to see the top and didn’t realise that there even was a power board. So we spent the morning tipping into the Sulo bin: 3 sides of salmon, 2 whole snapper, 2 lots of flathead fillets, 2 bags of duck legs courtesy of Michelle and lots lots more. I still can’t get the smell off my hands despite scrubbing them. The bread survived, wrapped in plastic bags which I changed. There would be some people who have never afforded a side of salmon in their lives, so I feel rotten (no pun intended) about the waste and had a small weep, but it didn’t solve anything. I keep getting that smell of death despite all the food being in the bin on the grass verge.

After lunch we went to the auction of our neighbour Gail’s house, there must have been 100 people there and quite a few were bidding. It is as neat as a pin as well as spacious, with a separate granny flat in the back yard, and after a long battle it went for $2,190,000. The guy holding the paddle looked nice enough but the two men with him, who seemed to be advising him, looked shifty to me. Arvind commented as we walked back that ‘gee I’m glad they are not going to be my neighbours’, as he had the same vibes as I did. No more Christmas drinks at number 38 I’m thinking.

So poor old Nissy Nassif is complaining about being ‘left stranded’ at a suburban shopping centre when her infamous $480,000 Lamborghini was repossessed. She has a Range Rover at home, but has the woman never heard of Uber?

February 11, 2024

I have watched with interest ever since a very large multi-storey apartment block was built by dodgy developers Dyldam at the major intersection at Baulkham Hills. Unfortunately I see it from my deck and bedroom window, but it seems very lacking in illumination at night and so it appeared to me that many units were empty. I started asking questions of people who might know something and so far I have been told by different people that: they can’t sell the units because now people know that the developer was dodgy; that there are many units suffering water damage from poor waterproofing of bathrooms; and the top floor residents have moved to other units because of rain ingress, the questions will continue. None of the row of shops at the base of the building has ever opened or even been advertised for lease and it is obvious that putting the building so close to the road on that busy corner means that a much-needed left turn lane can never be built. One wonders how it got council approval, a dodgy deal there as well? On New Year’s Eve 2020, all of the many companies in the Dyldam group went into administration owing half a billion dollars to creditors. I’m sure that all of the Fayads and Khattars will find a comfortable retirement in waterfront mansions, unfortunately not at Long Bay though.

I see that media mogul Harold Mitchell has just died from surgical complications due to a knee replacement, joining George Pell, Barry Humphries and George Cohen, who all died as a result of joint replacement surgery in the last year. Nope, if it’s suggested I’ll tell them that I’m keeping the pins I’ve got, but thanks very much for asking.

I remember someone telling me years ago that no one wanted to have a beer with the local undertaker after work because of the smell emanating from him and I thought it was really because they were uncomfortable with his profession. But after getting rid of that rotten food yesterday I just couldn’t get that death smell off my hands after three washes, so I ended up putting my hands in bleach and water and that worked. Later in the day I kept getting a whiff of dead fish but it must have been psychological as there was nothing in the house to cause it. So now I give the pub story some credence, perhaps he didn’t want to have a shower in bleach.

Thinking back to the auction yesterday and why both Arvind and myself had a negative reaction to those supporting the winning bidder. Usually a man in his thirties buying a house is supported by his wife, his partner, even his mum, but not by two slightly older men seriously involved in telling him what and how to bid. Brothers perhaps? mates?…mmm didn’t feel like it, male partner? definitely not. So it didn’t look as if it was going to be a family home, I think I would put my money on development there, bulldozer fodder is the feeling in my waters, I hope I’m wrong.

February 12, 2024

Heather’s birthday, over 55 years of friendship despite our many differences of views and beliefs. I mentioned to John that he may like to give her a ring but he has forgotten who she is despite seeing her quite frequently here and daily when she brought him food when I was sick.

A day of gardening was on the cards but when I noticed that John hadn’t rung me by 9.30 I rang him, only to find that he was quite sick, complaining of dizziness and being unable to lift his right arm. This was worrying as a week ago he told me that he couldn’t lift his right arm at breakfast and was seen by Gracewood’s doctor, then on Saturday night he was suddenly dizzy and needed to be helped to a chair where he recovered after about 15 minutes. Of course a mini stroke came to mind immediately so I flew out there with a view to taking him to casualty at RNSH before they could whisk him to Blacktown, half expecting to see an ambulance in the driveway. But to my great surprise he was happily sitting in his chair doing puzzles in the newspaper and feeling fine. He’s not a complainer so the symptoms are real but I will run them past Bob when I see him this afternoon for a previously planned appointment. It does disturb me that for the first time ever, while we shared morning tea, he told me that he had thought that he was dying. He’s never said that before even when he almost was. I went to see Janine (the sign on her room used to say Janene, but she tells me it was a mistake which they rectified when she moved rooms) to return the $50 that she lent John on the bus shopping trip last week and which has been worrying him every day since. I was shocked to see that she had a gash on her nose and two very black eyes, from falling in the bathroom last week and hitting the towel rail. Unfortunately she couldn’t reach the call buzzer and lay there till the next mealtime when someone came to look for her, as a result of her injuries she’s been in her room ever since.

Life goes on though and I’ve now planted my new jalapeno and cayenne plants. They have to be out front as they need at least six hours sun a day, though my previous chili plant which bore much fruit was in the back yard in shade, but eventually turned up its toes. But being out the front I could smell my bin from 20 metres away, I’m glad its contents and the surrounding swarm of blowflies will go tomorrow.

Bob agreed that a mini stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) is the most likely diagnosis of John’s symptoms, but the treatment is blood thinners of which he is on the maximum dose. ‘He will either keep having little ones which will increase his dementia, or else he’ll have the big one’. Phew I need a drink, but I’m damned if I’m going to open a bottle just for one, a nice cosy wine bar on the corner would be just the thing though.

February 13, 2024

I’m having trouble with feeling that I’m waiting for the next of John’s mini strokes and I need to get out of that way of thinking and live in the moment. Perhaps it’s months off and perhaps never, so just get over it I tell myself. However John is blissfully unaware of what this all means and for the first time I’ve decided that there’s nothing to be gained by telling him. When I asked him how he was this morning (answer, fine) he said ‘I wonder what that arm business was about’ and I lied through my teeth and said ‘who knows’.

I finally caught the man who regularly puts a James Patterson novel on my front verandah. He is so quiet that I haven’t been able to tell him that I’ve pulled out a couple of his favourite author and saved them for him. He followed me to the garage and took what I had saved so that was one long-standing job done. I didn’t mention the miasma of a mortuary still hanging there and hoped that he has no sense of smell.

A man whom I babysat regularly in Parramatta, when he was a primary school boy and I was a young woman, reported on Facebook that his younger brother Anthony died yesterday in Canberra after a few days in a coma following a heart attack. In my mind he’s still little 7 year old Ant and for the life of me I can’t imagine him as a grown man and certainly not one old enough to have had a heart attack. His brother John, the one I minded most often, sought me out at the shop many years ago, riding to Windsor on a motorbike while in Sydney briefly from his home in Alice Springs and it was a totally unexpected reunion.

Everywhere I looked yesterday in newpapers and on TV, there were reports of the American Football Super Bowl. I have never in my life heard a real person express interest in this sport, not one. So why are we bombarded with it? One report said that ‘the Taylor Swift romance has captivated the world’. I am uncaptivated. I have heard of Taylor Swift, though I couldn’t report a single song she sings, I have even heard people talk about her, but the Super Bowl? Give us all a break from this stuff.

February 14, 2024

Picked John up just before 10 am as arranged but some crossed wires meant he’d had early breakfast and had been sitting in the foyer from 8.30, despite insisting that his pickup time was 10 and showing the staff the time in his diary. Not sure how it happened but he was understandably unimpressed. I got a park close to the hospital and was looking at the sign and trying to work out if, with John’s parking permit, we had permission to park there for the required number of hours. Then a man pulled up in front of us in a flash car and I noticed that he had a blue and white checked lanyard on. ‘You’re not a cop by any chance’ I asked with a laugh and he said ‘yes I’m a detective’ so I queried the parking situation and was assured that we were fine. We had a Valentine’s Day lunch at bills in Darlinghurst replete with a glass of wine for the tee-totaller, his choice of dish was interesting: pork sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs and tomato, for the man who doesn’t eat pork. I said not a word and he thoroughly enjoyed it. They had a VD special dessert (referring to the day, not the disease) so we shared that, a Peach Melba, poached peach with raspberries, fresh raspberry sauce and honeycomb ice cream. The lovely waitress got so excited because we were the first people to order it. She is half Swedish, half Australian with a delightful accent and a super personality. I silently drank a toast to poor Bill Granger who succumbed to cancer at 54 last Christmas Day. On the drive home I reminisced that it was a lovely lunch and John said ‘oh did we have lunch out? sorry I can’t remember it’.

Through the window we had been watching four workmen demolishing a house across the lane from the restaurant and when we left they were eating lunch on the footpath and asked us who of them we thought was working hardest. This led to a chat and we discovered that all of them were Lebanese so then we got onto Palestine and would have been there all day if we hadn’t had an appointment at 1.30. But they said the building, which was residential, was owned by an elderly lady who wouldn’t sell out to the hospital so it has stood empty for a while and now she’s died so St. Vs have bought it from her estate. When we got to Kinghorn the receptionist told us that John’s appointment was cancelled yesterday! I checked his phone and there was a 9 am text telling him that it was postponed for a week but he never checks texts. The kind young man on the desk emailed the doctor who rang me to say that she would walk down from the main hospital to see him in 20 minutes, a great outcome. Because he hasn’t had a scan done since before Covid she wants one done now, but is happy if we get it done out here to save travelling. I decided not to mention the mini-stroke diagnosis of Bob’s as I couldn’t speak to her out of John’s earshot and it has no bearing on his haematology situation anyway. The doctor had what appeared to be a large bruise on her forehead but she pointed out that it is Ash Wednesday and said that John had forgotten, I guess knowing that he is an ex-priest from his file. I was hoping that he wouldn’t spout his atheism just yet and he didn’t, she clearly takes it all very seriously and we need her onside.

Once again I try to write something about Gaza but it is so dispiriting and disgusting that I just don’t know where to start. I have zero animosity towards Jewish people and a massive animosity towards the Israeli government, but any sort of criticism gets you labelled as an anti-Semite. The whole thing stinks and particularly the fact that the US and UK are supplying the armaments. What does Israel have to do to lose their support?

February 15, 2024

John may not remember our lunch yesterday but he’s rung three times today ‘just to tell you that I love you’ so though the memory of that outing has gone, the feeling it engendered has remained. I was feeling overloaded with decision-making about medical stuff this morning but decided to go to Waves for a swim and wash it all off. Good move Maureen. I invested an extra $4.60 to have a spa, sauna and steam as well, money well spent. Kept my mouth firmly shut to counter the current cryptosporidiosis outbreak across Sydney. In the spa a man whom I assumed to be Japanese began talking to me with much difficulty. I got ‘learn English TAFE’ and realised that he wanted to practice so we had a chat with much hand signalling. It must be so hard to do this at 68 (he held up fingers as he didn’t have words for the numbers). I learned that he is Chinese, and that the name You-Pong is pronounced You-Ping, so the communication taught me something. I think we will cross paths again if I keep going to the pool as planned.

My three lots of 20 pairs of clip-on earrings sold on eBay today, all to the one person in Tasmania, so I have packed them up in a box and will post as soon as payment comes through. His eBay page shows 686 pairs of clip-on earrings for sale!! His vary from $5 to $20 a pair and he bought from me 60 pairs for $120 so good luck to him if he has the time to spend selling them one pair at a time, I hope he does well. When he gets these and is happy I will tell him that I have many more pairs still to sell.

There are heaps of bright pink crepe myrtles flowering now but somehow I don’t get too excited by them, that is until I saw a beautiful white one in Darlinghurst. Oh my goodness how delicious it was. I can’t understand why they are not propagated more. I’m wondering where I could fit one now.

After last week’s disastrous bus trip I was having doubts about going next Wednesday, but the Hills Council who lady rang to make sure I was going assured me that it will be straight travelling with no windy roads so I said I would go. Sue has invited me to go from her place on a bus trip to Morpeth next month and that is a much more risky proposition. The lunch choices for next week were a strange mix: Halloumi and melon salad (nope, halloumi is overrated in my view), Chicken Caesar Salad Burger (what? run that by me again, sounds like a chicken burger with Caesar salad dressing, nope) and Carrot and Corn Fritters with Smoked Salmon (yep, done deal). Last week’s excursion had everything coming with chips except my Caesar Salad so that narrowed the choices for me, not that I don’t like chips but too many is well…..too many.

Well my Tasmanian eBay buyer just paid for all his earrings so I will drag my sorry carcase up to the Post Office, no doubt to stand 15 minutes in a line. I prefer the helpful couple at the little Dural one but I don’t see the sense in going there just for one parcel.

February 16, 2024

Well I’ve done it now after a few days cogitation, enrolled in a Forensic Medicine and Crime Scene Investigation Certificate at UWS. It’s in May but I am beyond excited. I had enrolled and paid for this course in 2020 but it was converted to online only due to bloody Covid so I withdrew and got a refund. They sent me an email a few days ago to say it’s on again face to face. I don’t know why I didn’t enrol in an instant but I guess I had a few other balls in the air, however it’s done now.

So Israel’s government was a big advertiser at the Super Bowl football this week, paying $7 million for each of their 30 second ads to capture the 123 million viewers, the biggest number since the moon landing. The ads end with a call ‘that we must all come together to oppose anti-Semitism’ and gives a website address to contact. In 2021 vast amounts of pro-Israel money flowed into the campaign of American Congresswoman Shontel Brown who was a little-known but strongly pro-Israel candidate standing against a democratic socialist. He was the national co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 election campaign, and a strong critic of Israel’s policies. If we had any doubts before, it goes to show once again that the cause with the deepest pockets is the most likely to win.

To a more mundane issue, no one has explained how asbestos has been so widely found in garden mulch all over Sydney. Surely this is made up of formerly living materials such as grass, bark, sawdust etc so how the hell could asbestos be in so many batches? Next question: what will they do with tons of contaminated mulch? It has so much volume that surely it has to be dumped somewhere?

February 17, 2024

This morning I picked John up and a bit later we headed to Sue’s mum’s house where the final stages of emptying is under way. All of the furniture is gone, some of it and the whitegoods to an outfit called Providential Homes which sounds like a building company but is actually a charity for people needing temporary emergency accommodation. The items specifically designated to various people have gone, so it was a case of unpacking lots of boxes that had been packed up as surplus to see if anything was worth selling. Back in the day all of it would have been greedily taken by auctioneers as there wasn’t a cheap piece amongst the lot, much of it Doulton, Royal Albert, Carltonware etc, but these days there aren’t many lovers of fine china about, so the auctioneers are way more fussy. However I photographed a couple of table loads and a few single items including some Belleek, three pieces of Mary Gregory glass, a Stuart crystal comport, a delicious Murano glass paperweight, a Shelley vase, a delightfully good piece of pokerwork and a piece of Maling. We shall see if any of them tempts David at Barsby’s Auctions when he sees the photos next week.

So Alexei Anatolyevich Navalny will be a name long remembered, but gosh he was so young and so brave. The Russkies have always treated their political enemies badly, going back to Tsarist rule, but of course we hoped that his world wide fame would protect him. Not so sadly. I have my doubts that things would change if Putin were toppled (or topped), there are too many oligarchs with too much to lose and a long antidemocratic custom to overcome.

On Thursday night I went with a group to Two Brothers Lebanese restaurant in Castle Hill where we were each served a platter of food big enough for two. Almost everyone asked for a takeaway container and John and I will both have a meal out of my leavings! I had a glass of Lebanese red wine from the Beqaa Valley (I had never tried Lebanese wine before but all of their wines were from there). I’m thinking that seeing I’m down to my last bottle of red I might ask if they are interested in selling me a few or else telling me where to get it. Lebanon is such a cot case that any business they can do would be a bonus for the producers and the country.

February 18, 2024

I have ants. After 3 or so years since the last mind-numbing infestation they are back, but so far not in big numbers. I haven’t been able to find the ingress point and strangely they are hanging about the marble slab in my kitchen. The only clue to why is that I discovered that the container in which I store potatoes was a quarter full of stinking water with 10 potato skins floating in it. I’ve never seen potatoes do that ever, no shoots, no rot, they literally just turned to liquid like a body in a hot climate. Most of the ants were nearby, though not in the container. I guess tomorrow they will either be gone or it will be like it was before, with thousands descending.

Thinking back to Sue’s mum’s things and it’s a pity but antiques are a fashion item like everything else. I would have Hoovered up all of that china and glass back in the day and paid good prices, but thanks to IKEA and minimalism……. It reminded me of a client who put every spare dollar into Royal Doulton for decades, seeking out the rare and expensive in particular and saying that it’s okay because it was his superannuation. Except when he retired and decided to sell, the Doulton boom was over and I couldn’t get rid of it at any sort of price. Doulton brought the crash on themselves, deciding to have some of their production done in a new factory in Asia. Their fans were mortified and proceeded to dump their collections onto the market, sending the prices into freefall. As a result the original factory in Stoke closed down and Doulton was no more, they had succeeded in trashing a brand that went back to 1815.

John asked me today why Sue is going into care and despite numerous explanations of yesterday’s visit to her mum’s it’s all been lost today, but it gave me something to rib Sue about which is all to the good. We went out to the Hawkesbury Art Gallery today to see an exhibition with a paper theme. But the best part was seeing the fantastic art glass selling (or perhaps more likely, not selling) at the gallery shop. It was by Keith Rowe from Blackheath and if I were not the age I am I would have been very tempted, got some photos though. The only people in the gallery were the parents of the volunteer on the desk, which was a bit sad.

February 19, 2024

Gosh I’m still reeling from Tim Winton’s new book the shepherd’s hut (no caps in the title), which didn’t go anywhere that I was expecting. It’s the dialogue that seals the deal for me, I could hear the protagonist Jaxie’s voice on every page, as if he were reading his lines to me. I saw the light on the salt, felt the cold, the wind, the smell, the dust, the isolation, but especially heard the voice. “I ran for a bit. Right into the setting sun. But the salt surface was iffy and I had no puff in me. So I settled for walking hard as I could for the shepherd’s hut and all me stuff. He kept calling and yelling behind me but I wasn’t having any of it. I couldn’t fucking believe I’d walked into this setup like a retard. I was that angry with meself I could off bitten off me own face in the mirror.” Does this author ever have a fail?

I see the pastor in the mushroom poisoning case in Victoria is back in church. He told his congregation that he thanks god for never leaving him, apparently quite comfortable that he/she/it left his wife and two of her relatives to their poisoning fate. I don’t think I will ever understand these people.

Another mob I will never understand are the alternatives rubbing frog toxin on wounds to make themselves vomit, hell I can vomit with a few bends in the road, no frog toxin needed. In a ‘kambo’ ceremony, a person’s skin on their arm or leg is burnt before the skin of an Amazonian tree frog is dabbed on the open wounds. Of course this occurred at a ‘wellness retreat’, wellness is a word to be very, very suspicious about. An inquest into the death of Jarrad who was 46, has heard that he died from a perforated oesophagus, likely caused by the excessive vomiting or attempts to vomit. What a senseless way to end a life. A ‘counsellor and psychotherapist’ Dominique who was there to assist the participants watched him deteriorate and eventually die but she ‘didn’t want to invade his energy field’. Jesus wept.

The ants are still here but not in large numbers. I decided to leave yesterday’s little corpses where they lay as a reminder of the price of invading my kitchen, something I’m sure I’ve read of a military doing in the past. This morning no ants near the marble slab, but some in the pantry, so I killed them and left them there. It is so weird because I love ants and take great care not to step on them where they gather at the foot of the street library. They are socialism in action, but inside it is as if they are a different species in my mind, enemy number one and I kill them without compunction. Perhaps that’s how nationalists feel about everybody else.

February 20, 2024

I went to the Coroners Court today for the inquest of a man in Tregear who had been killed by dogs. But when I got there, I discovered that it was actually an inquest into seven, yes seven, different people who had been killed by dogs. One was a three week old baby pulled from its mother’s arms by their American Staffordshire Terrier, which was actually a pitbull. Apparently no one wants to admit to their dog being a pitbull these days because of the restrictions on the breed, so they are being sold by breeders or on Gumtree or privately as American Staffordshire Terriers in something called rebranding. In fact the vet who euthanased the dog recorded it as a pitbull but the council ranger asked her to change its breed to an AST, she did so because of the difficulties of telling them apart.

We heard from Professor Paul McGreevy, a Veterinary Ethologist or animal behaviour specialist, who gave evidence that the two breeds are closely related, pitbulls were bred for dogfighting and the less aggressive ones are now on the dog show circuit as American Staffordshire Terriers. However, he pointed out that ASTs were bred from pitbulls in the first place and the genes for aggression can be shown in the DNA sequences that both breeds share. American Staffordshire Terriers are taught to allow for some handling at a show, but that does not alter the aggression in their genes. He described both breeds as ‘bold, aggressive, and importantly, they both take initiative’. So they don’t wait to be attacked or hurt in some way, they take the initiative and attack first, as a fighting dog needs to do, and therefore we can never be safe from them. Central Coast City Council rangers had given the couple 28 days to prove that their dog should not be declared a pitbull and therefore restricted. The father of the dead child requested a stay because they were dealing with a new baby and this was granted, two weeks later the baby was dead. They had owned the dog for nearly six years with no previous problems. Both breeds need to be restricted, with compulsory desexing. It’s the only way to eliminate them longterm.

Well I’m learning a bit about ants. I watched like a hawk yesterday and didn’t see one so I decided my ‘leave the corpses’ theory was a winner. No ants by 4pm so I did another task, but at 5pm there were at least a hundred all over my marble slab in the kitchen, despite my having scrubbed it and removed all the enclosed biscuit and cracker jars behind it, just in case they were gazing at the contents longingly through the glass. My question is this: Did an ant around 4 pm communicate with its peers saying ‘come on, we are going to stage an attack at number 30?’ Or does one ant head out and then all its mates follow in a conga line to wherever? I would seriously like to know. None today, but I will be watching closely at 4 pm.

Apparently a man in Baulkham Hills and his wife and child in North Parramatta have been found dead in the last few hours. Police are looking at whether a man who presented at hospital for injuries last night is involved. After having a man murder his wife with a stonemason’s hammer just up my street a few years ago I shouldn’t be surprised, but everyone interviewed in these cases always says the same thing ‘oh, but it’s such a quiet area and nothing like this has happened before’ however none of us know what’s going on behind closed doors.

February 21, 2024

Thinking back to the inquest yesterday, Prof McGreevy pointed out that the best way to solve the Staffordshire/Pitbull question is to take tissue samples from any dog put down due to an attack on a human or the winning dog in any pitbull fight, to ascertain exactly which gene sequence accounts for the aggression and attack initiative. He has twice applied for a grant tp do exactly this but was knocked back both times. Eventually a DNA test would be available to distinguish which dogs needed to be restricted.

Today I went on a council bus trip to the Lewers Gallery at Emu Plains and enjoyed the day despite being pretty unimpressed with the current exhibition of large photos of Penrith locals. Too much football players, fans and gang members for my taste. But the cafe was a surprise, outdoors and with the best meal yet on one of these trips, Corn and Carrot Fritters with Smoked Salmon and Salad, absolutely delicious. Others were similarly impressed.

Watched poor old Brad Banducci (maybe not so poor) being rolled over in an interview for 4 Corners. It’s apparent that the big money Woolworths is earning hasn’t been put into media training, but I have to admit that the interviewer was a bit too smug for my taste.

The case of four people being hit by lightning under a tree in the Botanic Gardens reminded me of what we learned in medical science training: the two injuries which always get worse before they get better are burns and electrocution. We were told that even if the patient seems relatively okay, you need to keep them in hospital until after that worsening happens. These poor sods did what would come naturally in a severe downpour and took shelter under a tree, the worst thing you can do, apart from of course grabbing something metal.

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