Saturday, 31 March 2012

on the wings of a dove, sorry cockatoo

I think I've mentioned the cockatoos here before.  I normally don't mind them, although they are incredibly noisy in the late afternoon.  Anywhere between twenty - forty or so, sweep in and proclaim their reign.  They chase the seagulls away, no great loss, and the disgusting scavengers, the ibis.  When they are really in the war mood, they even dislodge the ibis from their favourite roosting tree and we have loud complaining noises added to the cockatoos' screeches.

They then spend the next hour or so, wheeling around the semi-enclosed area here, hunting down any stray ibis or gulls.  Even the Indian mynahs are intimidated by them.  Mynahs are not intimidated by very much, I've found, but they've met their match in the cockies.

The larrikins among them grab the electrical wires which are strung over Parramatta  Road.  Some grab by beaks, others by claws.  They then perform acrobatic moves and swing in 360° around the wire over peak hour traffic.  Others sit on the top of the street lights over the road and then slide down the sloping strut which holds the light out from the pole.  They remind me of children on a slippery slide.  When they reach the pole after sliding down, they do it all again.

Usually they don't come anywhere near the balconies, preferring to fly in circles overhead.  Fortunately our railings are metal tubing, not wood as cockatoos can swiftly destroy wooden rails.  The other day I looked up to find three of them on my balcony rail, parading along it from one to the other, then back again.  I didn't really want them there so waved my arms at them.  Absolutely no notice was taken.

Then I discovered they were biting one of my pot plants which was on the small table out there.  More waves, followed by no action at all.  So I went outside.  They stood their ground. Indeed, as you can see, I was given the evil eye. I am actually less than half a metre away from the cockatoo here and as you can also see it does not appear to  want to move.

On Thursday afternoon, I returned from seeing The Great Exotic Marigold Hotel which I highly recommend for a good laugh and a slice of life in a different culture.  I found this mess all over the balcony tiles and more mess on the table.  Most of the middle of the plant had been ripped out and then discarded when dropped.  I've replanted the stems and moved the plant away from the rail, so the birds can't be comfortable on the rail while pulling my plant apart.  It's fairly hardy, so I think it will be OK.

And birds of a different sort.  I really think I'm totally bored with what I have on the needles.  A very plain pair of socks and  the Transatlantic shawl.  I found Wingspan which is a free pattern on Ravelry.  The yarn is some of Ailsa's beautiful 50/50 merino and silk.  I think a longer colour repeat would be better for the pattern, but I had this and love knitting with it. There are eight short row triangles and I'm onto the  third.  Very easy but effective.  Each triangle is partly built on the preceding one and another sixteen stitches are cast on for the base of it.

Click on picture to enlarge and see the pattern more clearly.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

a headless chook

"Running around like a  headless chook" was one of the sayings my mother used to use.  It was the third anniversary of her death just a few days ago, so I feel justified in using it.

If you've ever seen a headless chook running around, you'll know just what I've been like this week.  Here, there, and everywhere.  I hope I can string two coherent thoughts  together.  When the date of her death rolled around, it hit me in the stomach.  I haven't always had this reaction but I certainly did this year.  It seemed like yesterday and a thousand years ago simultaneously.  I miss her, her stubbornness, her support, her "brainwaves" as she called them.  I miss her love of family especially her great grandchildren.  I remember her playing Monopoly with Miss now eleven when said miss was four.  No one could find the dice for the set so they pretended, closing their hands and shaking, then flinging the imaginary dice on the board and counting the squares.  Moo well into her 80s and Miss Four.

Eldest son had the back operation a week ago.  I don't think any of us realised how much stress this has been in our lives.  He's been in a drug induced haze for several months because of the pain.  The operation was longer and much more complicated than expected as the damage was much worse than MRIs showed.  However, when he woke up, he could tell that the nerve pain in his leg had gone.  Agony, but this time from the operation where a large chunk of  bone was removed  from his spine.  Instead of two days in hospital, he was six days.  He's getting around in what is really a shuffle and he can just negotiate stairs.  However, I can now hear hope in his voice instead of despondency like before.  I have a lovely picture  of the incision some inches long instead of keyhole.  There's no identifying features in it, but I haven't asked if I could use it, so won't post it.  Several inches also of plumber's crack.

The result has been a huge relief, much more than I imagined. It was some hours before I heard how things  went.  I had a sudden awful thought that everything had failed and DIL couldn't tell me.  Nonsense I know, but the brain does silly things when stressed.  The reason was that everything took much longer than anticipated.  I wasn't even thinking about it when the thought popped into my mind. I thought I was handling  things well. Apparently not.  I've had trouble concentrating on anything much.  One morning I used my coffee machine to froth the milk.  Except it wasn't the milk, it was the coffee.  Frothing it destroyed the texture and I had to grind more coffee  and do a second cup.

Fortunately most of the effects of the bathroom fall have gone.  There's residual soreness but nothing like the first couple of days when even breathing hurt.

Today is the anniversary of my move to here.  The year has gone quickly.  I've achieved a lot, although  I still find ways of doing things or placing things usefully.  I don't deliberately concentrate on the past, but being by myself has allowed my brain to process more stuff than when I was with son and DIL.  Flashes of insight into behaviour and reactions to events sort of thing.

The photo shows #2 son putting together flatpack furniture on moving day.  I have almost no photos specifically from that day.  I must have been busy.  Other son had just then had the first ankle reconstruction.

So I have celebrated.  I have bought an iPad.  It is something I have been considering for over six months now. I saw a friend use his some days ago in a way I could have done myself.  He preaches from his.  Brilliant.  Much better than a a million pieces of paper which I always nervously check to make sure they are in the right order.

I haven't even told #1 son about this.  He could fix up what I can't do in five minutes flat,  I refuse to even think of asking him.  He needs his rest to recover.  So #3 son is coming down at the weekend to do what I can't.  When my wifi was  first set up, #1 son did his usual fantastic job of setting it up.  He now works as a management consultant but he's a genius with computers and has been since his teens.  He set it up very securely, too securely for me to access.  I know what has to be done but can't get in to do it,  so Youngest  son, also computer whizz is coming  down to do a few bits and pieces on Sunday.  Then I will tell others of the fait accompli.  I've transferred the apps I use from my iPhone to the iPad, done some tidying up and such.

So I'm looking forward to a quiet week next week.  I'm planning on seeing Judy Dench and Maggie Smith  in their new film released yesterday.

The picture is something serene, sunset looking north east from my balcony.  I have several of these from this aspect and moving around to pink and gold puffy clouds in the west.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

St Patrick's Day

This has not been a wonderful week for me on a variety of fronts and it's raining yet again here today, so here's a little bit of humour as it's St Patrick's Day today.  St Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland.  I rather like his expression, it mirrors mine for much of the week.

The week started quite well.  Last Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day.  Sunny, not very humid, a pleasant breeze.  I came out of church and thought I'd walk down the hill to where I used to live with son and DIL.  Son was at home I knew.  Major back problems getting worse daily and an operation scheduled for yesterday.  Extreme pain, lots of heavy duty painkillers.  He was suffering from cabin fever as the pain was so  bad he was confined to just sitting in a special chair.

I walked down Enmore Road five minutes to Sultan's Table, an unassuming looking place with great service and amazing food.  It had just opened so I ordered some chicken and a variety of very good dips.  It's a good place for  an easy meal, but I knew my son would need takeaway.  And cheap.  Very cheap.  After I preached at church a few months a go, my friend and I had a wonderful meal which cost $23 for the two of us together.

My son was in pain although he had a new machine which sent two different impulses through his back reducing his pain enough to allow for a decrease in one of the morphine medications.  We ate outside upstairs so he could be out of the room for a while.  It was good to see him.

Monday morning I had a fall here.  The shower is over the bath here and I have been ultra careful not to slip.  The bath itself has never been particularly slippery, but this time I slipped.  I whacked my ribs and one side very hard across the edge of the bath, and then fell backwards into it.  I lay there a few minutes assessing the situation and finally decided nothing was broken.  With a great deal of effort I got out.  I was SORE.

I felt quite bad for a couple of days as more sore spots emerged.  I'm now a lot better although I have some very nasty bruises, and I've bought a non-slip, large mat for the bath while I consider how I want to renovate the room and have a proper shower recess. Bathmat already has non-slip stuff under it.

I've known this area since childhood, my grandmother lived here and I've lived around here for a long time.  I walked past the corner  shop yesterday and saw this tile.  It's raised in the design. There are other similar tiles painted in various spots and I can see where some tiles were removed.  I guess it was once a butchers's shop but that must have been a very long time ago.  I can't remember my grandmother talking about it at  all.

Son's operation was late yesterday.  He's still in pain but thinks the leg pain from the damaged nerve is gone.  He had a rough night but has been up and for a short walk.  The pain seems mostly now to be post-opearation pain.   The operation was much longer and more involved than the MRIs and scans had suggested.  The surgeon told him this morning that the disc was totally stuck to bone and that he removed a lump of bone at least the size of a stock cube.  No wonder he still hurts.  Every thing about the operation was larger and longer than expected.  Still, hopefully he's on the mend now, although I think his recovery will be long.  I was quite nervous, back operations, nerves, bones, spinal cords, all major things.

Just to show this is supposedly a knitting blog, here's a link #3 son sent me.  50 knitted and blocked, life sized bees.  Buzz, buzz.

Friday, 9 March 2012

we don't give bread...

...with one fishball.  Lyrics, if you can call them that are here. Second song down the page.  I first heard this song many years ago, probably on the ABC Argonauts session.  It comes to mind at times and now it's an earworm, stuck in my head.  I made fishcakes tonight and the song came unbidden to mind.

I had bought a smoked salmon steak, not the flat slices but a steak.  I cooked two potatoes, added chopped leftover vegetables, some onion and chilli with the seeds.  One lovely fresh egg and I flaked the salmon into it and made six decent sized fish cakes.  Two were my dinner served with salad and fresh green beans. Don't forget the lemon juice.

I have actually been working on a sock this week and may even get it finished soonish.  The first was finished before Christmas.  The weather has been too bad to be out and I've been watching the cricket.

Yesterday was the wettest in Sydney for a very long time indeed.  The street out the back of here runs down to the stormwater canal and is on a slight slope.  A young man told me in the lift today that the water was cascading down the street calf high for him.  The intersection out the front was about half a metre deep with water from the street opposite and from part of the main road leading west.

Before I bought here, I was quite impressed with a townhouse in Riverside Crescent in Marrickville but it went for more that I wanted to pay out.  Riverside Crescent should have been a warning.  It looked through trees  to the golf course and across to Cooks River.  Yesterday cars were floating in the street and some were submerged.  The townhouse would not have been wet but the underground carpark was flooded.  A high price was a blessing in disguise.

The picture shows the stormwater canal a few yards  from me.  It had been higher than this an hour earlier.  My son suggested pooh sticks but I replied branches would have been needed.  The water was very deep and moving very fast.

Son needing back operation will finally have it next Friday.  Talk about being given the runaround. He now has a machine, not a TENS but an updated machine which delivers electrical impulses to confound the nerves.  He's hoping this will allow him to reduce the drugs he's on.  Maximum doses of Tramadol, Endone, Mobic and Valium with the shortest allowable interval between doses.  He hates them.  The main problem is that the pain has been so intense for so long and the pain killers so strong, that he really is not at his best to go into the operation.  Recovery time will be painful but less so than he's finding now. It will also be lengthy.

Off to Mittagong tomorrow.  We haven't seen our friends there for several months.  I've even baked a cake in celebration.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

saturday snippets...

... or, would you like some rain with that?

Not a good week in various ways.  One day was the hottest day we've had this summer, 34°C here.  One of the very few days over 30°C that Sydney has had.  Now I'm not bothered by that, I like the mid-20s but there's been so little hot weather neither I nor many others were acclimatised. Horrible day and high humidity as  well.

We've had weeks and weeks of rain.  There are vast quantities of water making their way into outback NSW from the Queensland floods.  Now added to that is the huge amount of rain across practically the whole state.  Broken Hill had six months rain in a few hours the other day.  The rain trough moved in and took up residence and shows no inclination to move.  Everything here was already saturated  and the ground is at what was called field saturation point when I did Agriculture.  That means it goes squelch, squelch when you tread on it.  No more moisture can be taken in.

Little wonder then that 75% of NSW is either flooded or on a flood alert or watch.  Watch is slightly below alert, but when it pours all day, what's the difference?

DIL who volunteers with SES is busy.  Out at night and doing full-time work too.  Last night she was at  Wilberforce on the Hawkesbury River, down stream from Warragamba Dam which is now at 100% capacity.  Not so long ago it was just under 30%.  She was there from 6:00 pm till 9:00 am this morning.  She came home for a sleep and was back there at 4:30 this afternoon for another night.  She has most of the qualifications for all work, chain saw, trees, electrical, fires, floods, boats, roof work and more and does a lot of training herself now.  This time it's all hands needed on deck.

The flying rat squadron shown here has been on slim pickings this week here.  With so much rain, they've had a hard  time getting scraps from people eating while outside McD's.  This lot have been here along the roof  pretty well all day.  They have  a vantage point and if something is dropped they descend en masse in their rush to be first to grab it.

My son who had the bad fall down fire escape stairs some fourteen months ago is facing yet another operation.  He used to be a runner and went every day.  With the broken ankles, pretty well all strenuous physical activity stopped.  When the ankles were fixed he gradually became more mobile.  Not at all back to running, but at least doing physio and swimming.  It then became apparent that his back had also been injured in the fall.  It became worse and worse and he's had MRIs and scans etc.  Also steroid injections which for him were useless.  The pain has been terrible and the fellow who weaned himself off morphine after  ankle ops in a few days has been on the absolute maximum possible for at least three weeks.  He loathes taking painkillers of any type at any time.

Last week he went to doctor for another script, it's tightly controlled here and only 20 tablets at a time can be prescribed.  She took one look at him and listened to the worsening symptoms and was alarmed at some new developments.  She sent him straight to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he was for a couple of days.

His neurosurgeon  and various other surgeons have been insisting to the insurance company that he must have operation to repair damage or they will be looking at a much bigger scenario.  It's next Friday and we just have to get him through this week.  Prince Alfred is close to them if anything should develop, although the operation will be in a private hospital with same surgeon who is top specialist in RPA.

Yesterday I spent most of the day hassling Woolworths re delivery of grocery order.  Four emails and seven phone calls later, I thought the problem was fixed.  Not so.  The replacement order this morning was still missing major items.  I gave up and took a refund.  Now I admit, I don't usually have problems.  Occasionally the wrong product is picked.  If I won't use it, I ring and get a refund.  If I will use it, I usually let it slide.  This was over the top.

Last picture is looking up the street out the back from which I get my address.  I actually have two addresses, one for this street and the other for the main road outside which has a four (!!!) figure street number and is used only by the Water Board.

Off to stir my chicken curry.  It's cool today so a good day for curry.  Lots of vegetables, some leftover chicken taken off hte bone and some Korma paste which was open in fridge.  Smells good and I should have a couple of meals to freeze.