Monday, 23 December 2013

a little tipple

My son came home from hospital a few days ago in this patient Transport Ambulance.  The surgeon required this so he could lie down on a stretcher for the hour's drive.  Unfortunately, it was more than an hour.  The ambulance had been ordered for 10:00 am but didn't arrive till 4:30 pm.  On the way home, they detoured to another hospital to pick someone else up.  By that time the main road west out of Sydney was packed with peak hour traffic.  He was very glad to get home, and has been improving every  day.  A bit of TLC and home cooking will do that.

He sounds great and is taking things slowly but is happy to be pain free in his back and almost that way for his stomach.

He had post-op visit to the surgeon today who is very pleased with  the result of the operation.  He has a plan for rehab to cover the next few weeks before another checkup.

I've always been able to tell how he feels by listening to his voice, even over the phone.  He can't hide tiredness, pain, drug haze from painkillers etc.  It's just lovely to hear him sounding so alert when we speak on the phone.  He probably won't make the Boxing Day meal at his brother's on Central Coast. Too much time sitting in the car is not a good idea.  Last year, he had an impromptu gathering at his big house in Stanmore and youngest son felt it was the Christmas gathering he  had missed out on.  With middle son in a nasty situation, youngest son is returning the favour at his new place with the jetty and great view over the bay.  I am sure DIL needs some professional help.  She's never been easy to get along with and members of the family can tell tales of her attitude.  However, right now, venom and bile just ooze from her.

My sister gave me this  tiny cask made of strong cardboard as  part of my Christmas present.  She made some remark about taking it on a picnic.  I thought it might perhaps have contained a wine glass full of liquid.

When I turned it over, I saw it's not wine  at all, but olive oil from this year's pressing at an olive grove in Goulburn, NSW.  She bought it on her travels this year.  It tastes really good and is fresh and light.  It's now being used at home and I am  enjoying it.  What is also good is that the tap is very good, allowing absolutely no drips to escape.  The cask holds 250 ml and is a rather neat marketing idea for the growers.

I have other pictures I could show but most of them show a very deep, nasty cut which I inflicted on myself several days ago.  I was aware that the knife  could slip but thought I had taken enough care and had positioned my fingers out of harm's way.  Not so, I have a very deep cut running diagonally on top of my left index finger and covering the middle joint.

Of course I was home by myself.  It took me about half an hour to stem the bleeding and when I looked at it I quickly put a  bandaid around it and rang my St John friend who would have happily come over to dress it for me.  Phone didn't answer and he didn't reply to an SMS for some hours.  My son arrived and went straight to the pharmacist where he bought non-stick dressing bandaids, with the same material as the old Telfa wound dressings.  It's healing, but is sore and I suspect went almost to the bone.

 When he had finished cleaning it up, he made us each a gin and tonic, possibly my first or second one this year, even at the end of December.  We both needed it.  He's doing OK, but DiL is being very unpleasant.  She keeps putting his stuff on the porch and telling him by text to pick it up or  she will dump it.  She knows this place is small.

As my mother would have said, it's stinking hot here today.  A southerly is due soon, I hope.  I've been following the drop in temperatures up the coast and for me, it  can't get here quickly enough.  Heavy cloud and humidity.  This is the second day like this and last night was almost unbearable.  Friday was the same and I could not avoid going out.  I had a doctor's appointment.  I was fortunate enough to score a seat under the air con outlet in the waiting room.  I had quite a wait.  He's the principal in the practice and was complaining of being very short staffed.  I decided to catch a cab home.  It's actually walkable distance from here, but in that heat there was no way I was walking.  My guess is that it's probably about 45 minutes to walk on a good day.  Unfortunately, every man and his dog wanted a cab and I had a long wait.

I hope you all have a good time at Christmas and enjoy any holiday break.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

dunking biscuits in the Hawkesbury

Last weekend saw our family gathering for Christmas.  We went again to my niece's weekend property on the Hawkesbury river north of Sydney.  About 90 minutes drive from my place.

We were there last year and loved the place.  There was a lot of tension around and just as we sat down to lunch there was a huge thunderstorm.  We were right down near the river and had to bring everything back to the house and try to settle.

This time my niece had set up two large tables in the back section of the house, open to the breezes and the view.  It was good to all be at the same table and this time we had insisted on shared food rather than brought  for individual groups.  It was not entirely a happy gathering.  My son was there with my grandchildren but DIL did not attend.  However, everyone made an enormous effort for support for them and the day was generally very good.

The house is old and has been added to in fits and starts but the big trees give a lot of shade and the grounds were green as they can irrigate from the river which is pumped up to a holding tank and which also gradually fills a well.  The grandchildren had a great time on the quad bikes before lunch.  It was all the two youngest remembered from last year.

Lunch was pleasant, some BBQ, several of Mum's fondly remembered salad dishes, the famous noodle salad which is well known down here.  Ham and other meats.  One son made her chicken in curry creamy sauce with mangos and cashew.  Another cashew and sultana recipe of hers was popular.

The photos are not mine.  I forgot the camera and with a sore shoulder did not feel like hopping up and down with just my phone.  Top photo shows the rather ramshackle area we were in but it was a good size for us all and for a few extra hangers on who were drawn to the lunch.

More treats after lunch.  A big 4WD backed a boat down the boat ramp, lifejackets were found for the kids to share and they went for rides up and down the river.  Not long each time, it's about ten minutes by boat upstream towards Windsor from Wisemans Ferry and about half an hour around the side of a the mountain on a windy, dirt track.

They each had multiple turns being towed behind the boat on what was called a biscuit.  It looked to me like a softer version of the boogie boards young kids skate around on in the shallows at the beach.  The boat was driven fairly slowly and they all had a ball.  Every one of  them came off it several times but they weren't fussed by that.  They stayed still in the deep river  for the boat to turn around and come back for them.  I think they'll remember this treat all year.  Even Master Eight had a ball and he's not a strong swimmer.

Had I realised this was being taken I probably would not have been too happy.  The shoulder strapping raised lots of questions.  It has been a help, not a cure but it has made things easier by preventing the shoulder joint from moving much.  This stops a lot, not all, of the crunching and grinding.  It's not attractive but I don't think about that at all.  Comfort is more important.

Eldest son is on his way home from the hospital.  Back patients travel by Patient Transport Ambulance, not private cars or taxis.  The surgeon is very happy with the result on the back and the stomach is recovering from the indignities inflicted on it.  Now for rehab and I know he'll work hard at that.

Part of my sister's present to me is this knitted nativity set.  Terrible photo with lots of things  contributing to that.  It's been stabilised but the textures can be seen.  I somehow doubt the amount of gilt there.  It seems to me as if the sheep  near the manger is on steroids.  It's huge.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

it never rains but it pours

What a time over the last two or three weeks.

Youngest son has moved house.  He's sharing with a friend who has his fifteen year old son with him permanently.  A big two level house with five bedrooms, looking over a jetty and a bay on the central coast.  Two flights of stairs down to the jetty and a comfortable bench.  Master Eight is convinced he will supply lots of fish for the household.  I suppose it's possible but I somehow doubt it.  My grandmother was experienced at fishing and the different conditions for different  fish but even she was not always lucky.

There is a decent size kitchen with lots of bench space and plenty of cupboards.  Most of the floors are polished or are tiles so cleaning will be easy.  The best part is a huge covered verandah overlooking the water with plenty of room for a couple of tables and chairs and BBQ.

Last night he rang to  say Miss Thirteen wants to live with him.  She does not get on well with her mother and has no respect for her.  Of course, respect has to be earned and I must  say her mum has not done much there in the last year.  So she moved in last night.  Her best friend lives just down the road and I also suspect the space of the new house has also attracted her.

Middle son is still living with me.  I see any reconciliation as very drawn out.  I feel heartbroken for the children.  Having someone, even a son, land unannounced on my doorstep has been a bit hard to cope with at times.  No problems between us and he knows I will support him despite anything he may have done.  It's just a shock to the system.

One good thing has come out of it.  We cleared the enormous wardrobe in the second bedroom and made him some space.  He found my ball winder which I have not seen for a year.  It is now just where I know it will be when I want it.

Eldest son with the terrible back problems has suddenly had another operation yesterday.  The disc operated on two years ago was degenerating and he was back on the massive morphine derivatives and other painkillers.  Everything lined up yesterday for an operation, otherwise it may have been February.  He hates the drugs so went in to a private hospital.  He has a different surgeon with an excellent reputation.  Today he was up and walking around supported by DIL.  He looks amazingly well for such a huge operation, much better than last time.  He's not impressed with the food he can have, basically jelly and custard.  The operation was done through the front of the body and stomach and gut had to be moved out to allow access to the spine.  A new disc is fitted and the very lowest part of spine has been fused.  The surgeon is very pleased with the result and says he will be taller as spine was collapsing.  He's 6'5".

That leaves me.  I have not done much knitting because of the bad shoulder.  GP sent me for x-rays and ultrasound as he thought it was frozen.  Haha!  Two tendons, one about 2.5 cm across, are ripped right across the tendon and through its depth.  There are problems with the nerve.  Cartilage is destroyed and the ball joint is impacted into the socket.  There are places of very severe inflammation and just severe inflammation in other spots.  And more. And more.  Even I can see that it is in a very bad way.

He says I really need a replacement joint.  I do have a close trusted friend who is  an amazing physiotherapist who lectures overseas several times a year.  She will try gentle exercise  first as she says that can sometimes help enormously.  I remember Spike Milligan's epitaph, "I told you I was sick."  I feel like saying, "I told you it was more than just aches and pains.."

I have knitted very little as it makes  shoulder sore.

Son was pining for Christmas decorations so I fished mine out.  I have the Art Deco nativity scene but there are six different interpretations of Christmas trees through the place now.

These are the small knitted pines in Grignasco Bambi with vintage button trims.  I should have opened the front door for more light.  They are just inside and the wall is brilliantly white, not the mauve it shows as here.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

ave atque vale

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

A truly great man now gone, but what a legacy for us all.  As he left Robben Island where he had been imprisoned for twenty seven years, he said he realised he had to forgive those who had imprisoned him or they would still have power over him.    The essence of forgiveness.

It is difficult for  most of us to understand just what apartheid meant to  those in South Africa and what an evil construct it was.  Those who  spoke against it at the time were punished.  I remember a lecturer in the English Department at Sydney Uni in the 1960s who thanked the South African Government for giving him time to write a book on Shakespeare.  He had written it in prison where he, a white man, was being punished for speaking out against apartheid.  The book was smuggled out for publication.

Ave atque vale.  Hail and farewell.