Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I've been through UTI's with my mother-in-law and I never thought I would have to deal with that again. My poor M-in-L talked to people who weren't there and she talked non-stop for days, whole conversations which were lucid in their detail but with phantom beings. When she was moved, she was terrified because she couldn't tell which was floor or ceiling and thought she was falling. On the worst day before the anti-biotics began to work, I sat with her for 12 hours listening to this terrible raving but every now and then, she would touch me and ask if I was real. Then she would sleep a little before it started again.
It's a terrrible thing to go through, knowing that what you are doing is quite wrong but unable to do anything to stop it. Usually the infection is well entrenched before the mental symptoms begin and I would say now that Mum's probably started on Saturday or possibly Friday. By Monday night, she frightened the Brick Outhouse by trying to put a cup through the microwave door because she thought it was already open. She couldn't remember how to get back into bed even with him helping.
Thank goodness for a family doctor who still makes house calls because she was too terrified to leave the house. She was dazed and incoherant. We had to take away all her pills and constantly tell her where she was. At one stage I found her with the phone in her walker and the receiver on the bedside table and trying to answer the radio. The hard part was hearing her being lucid but having the next sentence completely loopy. We had to double dose the anti-biotics yesterday which meant staying until the early hours and bless the Outhouse, he set the alarm so he could take me home.
She was a long way better today but it was a constant battle to juggle the tablets so they didn't clash. Trying to keep track was driving me crazy so I can see how she lost control of them. The headache is gone, the confusion was down to one loopy every two hours or so and she knew enough to swear at Aunt Patty who suggested that a district nurse could do better than 'her girls'. She also got pissed off at Aunt Selma who says she has no pain in her knee and feels wonderful. She was lucid enough to read the letter from the Government telling her she was getting a one off $100 payment to help with expenses. "Bugger expenses," she said, "I'll have that DVD set from the ABC shop." She then asked me who the visitor was as she looked at the bedroom chair with her shawl draped on it.
So it's back to every day visits for another week or so. We'll test the urine every 3 days to keep an eye on it. The wound cut has almost closed except for a tiny bit where there is a dissolving stitch that hasn't dissolved. We just keep adding to the list of things to watch as there will be other signs of the body breaking down. We can't keep ahead of them because we can't tell what will be the next to go. It's a waiting game and we just have to play it.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
"Rock hard manhood, multiple explosions and several times more semen volume delivered to my door, low cost and fast."
As tempted as I am to reply and say yes, send, and does it come with green eyes, I think some of the blurb got deleted along the way. (Ron, drooling is so unattractive)
There was something about free will and whales. Humans have free will and don't have to eat whales, they can become vegetarians. Vegetarians have free will and can become vegans. Whales don't know what free will is and eat krill, toothed whales eat fish, Orca eat seals. Krill are voracious little beggars and chow down on plankton. Free will means I can make a choice, animals can't. If the whales were being caught to feed a starving nation, then I would have to make a choice to support it but these whales are destined for the wealthy only so I choose not to support full scale whaling. As for saving the krill, one day we might have to do just that. Salmon farmers give the fish a dye to get the salmon colour they would naturally get by eating krill. If the farmers work out that it's cheaper to grab krill then look out.
Mindless ramble through my head over.
Tonight on 60 Minutes, they have a story on same-sex marriage in Canada. The couples interviewed are Australian, one half of the first couple is the now convenor of Australian Marriage Equality. The other couple is Matthew Culleton and Luke Gahan who was the first convenor of AME. Watch the show and tell me how these four men are going to bring down our so-called wonderful heterosexual institution of marriage. It's not about sex, it's about love and commitment.
On the home front, I made a quiche and cut my finger on the processor blade, fortunately it was not going at the time. Whizzing sharp things and me do not go well together. (or is it I, blood loss mistake) My soup is the best tasting this winter even with the wrong pasta in it. I picked up a packet of calcium enriched, especially for kids, teddy bear pasta shapes, result, delicious. (Hi Gerry) I'm now going out to cook Granny Smith apples with cinnamon bark and shredded lemon zest and strongly resist the temptation to put a ginger sponge topping on them.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
This is gorgeous and rare. It's called a circumhorizontal arc and it's caused by light passing through high altitude Cirrus clouds. The sight occurs only when the sun is very high in the sky, more than 58 degrees above the horizon. The hexagonal ice crystals that make up Cirrus clouds must be shaped like thick plates with their faces parallel to the ground.
When light enters through a vertical side face of such an ice crystal and leaves from the bottom face it bends, in the same way that light passes through a prism. If the crystals in the Cirrus clouds are just right the clouds light up in the colour spectrum.
This was photographed on June 6 in the sky over northern Idaho near the Washington State border.
By The Associated Pressposted: 23 June 200609:16 am ET
HONOLULU (AP)—Alongside the submarines, ships and airplanes participating in large-scale military exercises in the Pacific this month, a team of sea lions and dolphins are expected to patrol the sea.
These marine animals will be flown in from San Diego for simulated mine recovery and mine detection during the biennial RIMPAC war games.
Six bottle-nosed dolphins would find the mines, while four California sea lions would help recover them.
"There are a number of mechanical systems that work to some degree in those areas, but not as well as the Navy would like them to work,'' said Tom Lapuzza, spokesman for the Navy's Marine Mammal Program. "Unmanned vehicles are becoming better at finding mines and being able to deal with them, but they are still not as good as the dolphins are.''
More than 40 ships, six submarines, 160 aircraft and nearly 19,000 military personnel are taking part in RIMPAC 2006, which runs from Monday through July 28.
It brings together military forces from Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States for training off Hawaii.
But the high-tech gadgets deployed by the military can't match the natural skills of the dolphins and sea lions, Lapuzza said.
Sea lions have "incredibly good underwater hearing'' and can dive to 1,000 feet to attach a recovery line to a simulated mine, he said. Dolphins use their sonar to find the mines.
"For sure the divers and unmanned vehicles are going,'' he said. "They are thinking about taking dolphins, but are not sure they are going to do that yet.''
Opponents of the program say the military should not train animals for use in warfare.
"These animals are highly sensitive, deeply intelligent creatures, and to use them for warfare is to abuse them,'' said Wayne Johnson, who is on the board of Animal Rights Hawaii. "These animals need to swim free.''
Marine mammals have been used by the Navy since the early 1960s.
The animals save the Navy an estimated $1 million a year, Lapuzza said.
The $15 million Marine Mammal Program has 75 dolphins and 30 sea lions at its San Diego facility.
The four sea lions will be transported to Hawaii in cages with pools of water, and dolphins are carried in 10-foot-long fiberglass boxes suspended in a sling and enough water to enable them to float, Lapuzza said.
If the animals are so good at this retrieval why can't we find a peaceful use for them. What stops them from heading for freedom in the open ocean? After all they're conscripts, not volunteers.
Friday, June 23, 2006
I've been putting away photographs for Mum but this one I had to put up. That is a very fat corgi and one enormous cat called Charles Amadaeus Mozart B. He didn't start out this way but had an appetite for food that transcended gluttony. One of Mum's neighbours came over and complained that he was bailing up his dog and stealing the food out of his dish. Not a small dog either but a Collie. Charles began to get a stomach that needed wheels and after one of his food forays, fell from the top of a six foot fence and started a vet bill that rivalled the national debt. I have another set of photos somewhere showing him ambushing my small granddaughter, boosting a cupcake straight from her hand and walking away with it in his mouth, paper and all.
Because the children were so young when they left for Queensland, I kept in touch by writing stories about the cat. He started as he was, a fat selfish glutton but ended his days as the Captain's cat on the Queen Elizabeth 11. I can't draw to save myself so all the illustrations were fabric collages or cut out pictures from that grandmother's mainstay, the Franklin Mint Catalogue. The stories still exist, their other grandmother has kept everything I've sent them and I'm glad because I'd never be able to duplicate all that work. I even invented a family tree for Charles right back into fantasy land when the bush fairies collected cat fur to make covers for their beds in winter. I must have had far too much time on my hands because for that, I pulled apart a length of wool and knitted a cover on a pair of wooden toothpicks. The things we do for a story.
Mum has a little over two weeks to go before a visit to the oncology clinic and everything is going well. The opening along the wound cut is back to about 5mm from 30mm and the doctor was very pleased with her yesterday. She decided to have a shower by herself today, while I was in the house but that didn't go to plan. She got in the shower okay but no water. Someone has leaned over the fence and turned the water meter off so I'm outside in the cold wrestling with the tap and she's inside trying to wash in what was left in the hot water jug. She's so confident now that she told me to have the weekend home. If I could just remember what to do with a weekend home.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Last year I had the Brick Outhouse cut down the huge Blue Spruce. There is no way you can tie up those sorts of branches so he hauled them out to the nature strip and piled them up. I also had branches from the Golden Elm, Sycamore and Acer trees. Then the fun started. It was how many bundles….none. Then we can’t have our workers come and pick them up. It’s a one off, it won’t be like this next year, the trees have been cut down. NO, we need bundles.
I dug my heels in and said they could stay out there until they rotted. Enter sniffy neighbour who rang up on my behalf to say how decrepit I was and how much help I needed. Thank you for nothing, sniffy neighbour. One Council department came out and photographed the pile but forgot to tell its companion department who also sent a photographer. The next call was to tell me how much I would be fined if the nature strip wasn’t cleared in three days. Right said Fred and I was up the next morning at 6 o’clock, on a day much like today fortunately. It took me five hours to drag branches back under the car park and bundle up what others were small enough. Thank you to all the crappy neighbours who drove past.
I had managed to save up enough money to have a plumber come and fix the bathroom taps but that now went to the man who came and removed the debris and finished cutting the trees down to stumps. He was worth the money, clearing everything even to sweeping up the pine needles. One day later, the first Council department rang and said they’d reviewed my situation and would pick up the branches for this year. This was one month after the first photograph had been taken by the first department.
I should have taken an I.O.U. because I have a carport full of citrus trees. Why do branches always look small on the tree but fill the yard when they’re chopped? They’re heavier on the ground so I had to tie a rope to each one and pull it across the lawn (lawn?) to the carport otherwise the mower man will have hysterics and just go round the piles.
Sniffy neighbours on both sides are still complaining. It’s no good taking away their built up garden beds and then telling me it’s my fault the bottom of the fences are rotting. I don’t water and I don’t have garden beds. On one side whining people want me to cut down the tree in the corner. It was originally a Lillypilly with big purple fruit but it’s gone back to the original graft tree which gives me hayfever and has little black berries. The birds love the berries and they have to crap somewhere so what am I going to do, walk out and give them a stern talking to about not doing it on the shiny roof next door. Them on the other side have the cotonester red berries being dropped everywhere. I’m an equal opportunity pest encourager.
At least when I was thirsty I only had to reach up and eat a mandarin. My legs and arms look a bit worse for wear but my blood clotting factor seems to be working. My first Camellia bud has flowered. The world’s worst photographer will try to get a good pic of that. It’s pink and called a Waterlily Camellia. I have two Camellias which are the only things I haven’t killed off. I don’t count Geraniums, nothing kills them. My snowdrops are also up, they survive because they’re underground where I can’t do much damage. At least I can say, my garden is where the wild things grow, nothing much else does.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
I wasn't going to put craft up here again so soon but I have no thinking brain cells at the moment and Avon has pinched my idea. Their's is only a tacky 12cm cushion with a smaller cushion and coin on top which they call a wealth cushion. It's perfumed with a ghastly Jasmine scent and Jasmine is horrible when it's real. Mine were a lot bigger than a measly 12 cm.
I made these for a man's walk-in dressingroom/wardrobe. The two lower cushions are Chinese red and gold satin and the smaller top is of shot Thai silk of a pumpkin colour which I matched to the colour of the room. Every corner has drops of gold and red glass beads and the leaves on the top are glass beads woven on gold wire. The house has an Eastern influence in furnishings so these are in keeping with the theme.
They're designed to be placed near a heating duct or window where the heat from the Sun will release the Spice potpourri. I didn't think a pretty lavender or rose pot pourri would suit so I mixed cinnamon bark, crushed cloves, allspice berries, dried mandarin and lime rinds, cardamon pods and orange oil, lots of orange oil. The trick to not having any of the spice dust come out of the cushions is to put everything in a huge bowl with the dacron filling and keep rolling it around until it is held within the filling.
I was glad when they left for their new home, the smell was delicious and filled the house and made me hungry. It also made me want a drink, a nicely chilled Brandy Crusta. I love the sugar around the rim and I love the smell of it. I wish I had my sister's liver then I could drink again and that would be the first thing I'd drink. I have a list.
Where was I? Avon, crummy ideas, mine are better and I thought of it first. I read the Avon book and write down things I like then I wait for the sale catalogues when it's half price. I can be thrifty when I like. Speaking of thrifty, my excellent $2 emporium has closed for renovations when it will be opened as a $2 specialist shop. In other words, $2 and up. Bother, I liked the tiny little shop, it was easy to hide a special something behind the other junk until I could get back to it. If they make it all light and spacious it won't be the same. I hate change.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Today I went to see that film about the book that everyone hates because he is making squillions from it. If I don't mention the name, no-one can google me. It would have been worse if I hadn't been in Gold Class courtesy of my Christmas present ticket and working my way through the dessert menu courtesy of my Christmas present food ticket. I would have had my feet up but I can never work the stupid button on the side of the comfy chair and besides I would have to lean too far for the food.
Memo to self: Never go to one of those black out trendy food places where I have to wear a blindfold and the place is in total darkness. It's supposed to enhance the appreciation of the food if you can only taste it. I'd die of starvation. I can't find my mouth in a theatre where there is a small amount of light. It's very embarassing when the lights go up and you're wearing a necklace of marachino cherries that somehow missed being hoovered up with the cheesecake.
The film was ordinary. I'm glad I read the book or I would have missed the primary plot, being as it were, holy (pun intended) absorbed by the secondary plot. That is, the mystery of Tom Hanks' disappearing botoxed forehead. He starts offwith a 3 storey high forehead and straight across hair and ends with worry lines and a widow's peak. For the first hour there is no expression above his eyebrows and his squishy little eyes don't move a lot either. When did he have the stroke? I mean he only talks using the right side of his mouth although at the end there is a slight movement that shows teeth on the left. It was fascinating watching the various lumps, bumps and furrows slowly appear. He has a face that lumps, bumps and furrows can only improve. I hate to think what he'll look like by the time he makes the next Langdon film.
People complained it was too talky but I didn't think so. There wasn't enough of the Louvre, or Westminster or the Chapel in Scotland. I'm still stumped as to who could have played Langdon other than Hanks. On that note, I watched 'Zulu' the other night and please don't ever have Hollywood remake that film. It's a little dated but Stanley Baker and Michael Caine and the cast of British character actors are still great to watch. I'd have actually paid Gold Class prices to see that.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
This is going to be the evening sky facing north-west in Melbourne tomorrow night, June 15 at 6.00pm AEST.
The black expanse to the left of Pollux is a representation of the Prime Rodent's mind.
I'd do more sky watching but it's outside and it's cold and the neighbours think I'm perving when I sit on the roof.
I did take a photo of the partial eclipse of the moon last year. It came out beautifully, a tiny yellow dot in a huge nothing, guess who forgot the telescopic lens.
What can I say, women cannot be perfect all the time, we do have our seconds of off-time.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The peg down the middle of the long bone is hammered in and the top of the bone is cut off and levelled. Keep looking at this and ignore the steaming pile of Yak turds in the room, it's only Howard and Ruddock stealing legislation. They'll pass into nothingness in time but Gays and Lesbians will still be here, being civil unioned by a more tolerant society than this miserable remnant of Christian Crawlers Anonymous.
As I was saying about meteorites. This is a quote from Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican observatory in Arizona, and curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, Italy.
"Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which is a kind of paganism."
The Vatican's meteorite collection????
And back we go to Antarctica. Jennie Whinam, a botanist with Australia's Department of Primary Industries in Tasmania, and colleagues from the Australian Antarctic Division decided to check what sort of alien organisms might be hitching a ride on the expeditions to remote sub-Antarctic islands. They used vacuum cleaners and forceps to suck and pluck every seed, spore and plant fragment. From 64 arrivals, they found 981 seeds and fruits belonging to 90 species, some of them invasive and a serious risk to local flora. The majority came attached to the Velcro fastenings of clothing and gear.
The Swiss inventor of Velcro got the idea from the prickly burrs entangled in his dog's coat. The fine hooks covering the burr had become so emeshed in the dog's fur, it was almost impossible to separate. So full circle and an invention is now doing exactly what Nature has been doing forever. Now don't give another thought to those Yak turds, Nature will fix them.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Not every scientist is convinced that this is a crater but Geophysicist Dr. Ralph von Frese of Ohio State University thinks this is the remains of a 48 kilometre wide meteorite that wiped out most of life on Earth. This was at the end of the Permian (called the Great Dying) 250 million years ago when 90 per cent of marine life and 80 per cent of life on land were wiped out.
The circular land features are in the Wilkes Land region of East Antarctica, south of Australia. The crater would be more than twice the size of the Chicxulub crater believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs. von Frese believes its location suggests it is older than 100 million years, the date at which Australia drifted northwards from Gondwana.
The faint yellow circle is a 320 kilometre wide plug of dense material which is a feature of impact craters. von Frese expects this to be mantle material that was sucked up as the meteorite rebounded from the Earth's surface.
The image above shows Australia fitting together with the Antarctic coastline and the concentric rings or shock waves around the crater. Von Frese says this suggests that the ocean between Antarctica and Australia opened after the crater was formed. He thinks the impact could have triggered the process that culminated in the break up of Gondwana 100 or so million years later. This was the creation of the tectonic rift that pushed Australia northward.
Dr. Peter Morgan of the University of Canberra trained in gravity analysis at Ohio State University and says he has ground-based gravity and radar measurements of the same area. He is now processing the data to see if it supports the theory. But before the structure can be linked to the Permian extinction, it has to be dated and it's almost 2.5 kilometres beneath the ice.
While we're still down in Antarctica. Belgium will build the first polar station powered solely by renewable sources of energy - solar and wind. The base will be for studying climate change and will cost $10.8 million. Australian Government please take note and try converting our base down there. Some of that 10 billion earmarked for ID cards would be put to better use on the ice.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Tony Abbott is still sitting on his PBS hands. There are instances where the drug won't work but a young mother with kids who is looking at dying anyway will take any chance to survive.
The Prime Rodent said yesterday, "The Government is well aware of the public support for the drug and the need to consider potential listing of this drug as quickly as possible. The Government is moving to ensure the necessary processes are completed in minimum time."
Will you two get off your collective arses, stop pissing about with Civil Unions which will hurt no-one and do something about this cancer which kills women? I bet if your dicks turned green with purple spots and herceptin would help, it would be free. Speaking of free, if this government has 10 billion to waste on ID cards to stop us welfare bludgers, I'll give up my share to buy Herceptin for one woman.
On the subject of us welfare, disability bludgers of baby boomer age, here's another little item.
Hello Whingeing Watson. Generation X-ers are at risk of dying before their parents. A new Australian study shows they are becoming obese faster than any other age group.
The Sydney University study found those born between 1966 and 1970 were gaining weight more rapidly than baby boomers and adults of the pre-war generations.
Diet and lack of physical activity have been blamed for X-ers being more prone to becoming fat.
Now for something I really have an opinion about. Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop wants to introduce a national uniform minimum age of 4 and a half for starting school. Education ministers will vote on it next month. This is fine if the parents are given a choice if they don't think their child will cope at this age. An extra 6 months makes a lot of difference to a child's development and while parents who have had children in childcare will say they can cope, others may not.
My son started at 4 and a half. It was two years before we knew there was a problem and that was only discovered by accident. I always heard his reading homework until one night two pages in the book were stuck together and he read the next page perfectly except it should have been the preceeding page.
It was discovered that he had memorised every page of every book by listening. He wasn't dsylexic but he read and wrote words and entire sentences completely backwards. He knew that was wrong so turned it round and the psychologist who tested him said it was the equivalent of reading and translating a foreign language. The problem was that his eye/brain co-ordination hadn't matured when he started school and it was a matter of his body catching up to the brain. The psychologist tested him twice to make sure the answers he was giving were not guesses because those answers were in the 11 y-old range.
It was only another 6 months before the reading and writing becames normal. But the stress on that kid who felt he had to hide it had an emotional effect on me. The psychologist pointed out that it took specialised testing to discover it because he wanted to be like the others in his class so he became very clever at concealing it. This is why I wouldn't like the school age to be mandatory unless the parents are able to discuss their child with teachers first.
The brains auditory and visual pathways and sense organs develop before the foetus is exposed to external stimuli. During the last few months it starts sensing noise and vibration. The retina and visual cortex are still developing. If the babies are born prematurely this development is disrupted by exposure to artificial lights, noisy equipment, the voices of doctors etc.
This creates permanent damage, which means they cannot discriminate between frequencies and tones as well as other babies. They can develop speech difficulties and never become good musicians. Being exposed to overbright lights too early means that the eye grows too quickly, often resulting in myopia.
John Zeisel’s idea is to design places that act as a substitute for the womb; an environment that supports what is going on in the brain.
But it was his use of design in Alzheimer’s care homes that made me realize why I feel comfortable in my home. According to Zeisel, most care homes have hallways that all look the same. This is distressing to Alzheimer’s patients who can’t remember what’s around a corner or which way to go.
Zeisel has overcome this by having all hallways and pathways ending with a visible destination. Such as having a fireplace or kitchen or something the person can associate with safety visible at all times. He also puts familiar photographs, chosen by the patients, on the walls so they have a sense of place. They don’t wander around because they can see where or what they are going to. This lowers the level of anxiety.
To quote Zeisel:
“If somebody has amnesia, and cannot remember certain things, they say: “I don’t know who I am.” To remember something you need to know where it happened as well as when it happened. Place is essential to memory: without a memory of place, people lose their sense of self.”
My home is small, in the old language, 13 squares. Every room is visible from another. The only longish hallway leads to the kitchen and I filled one wall of it, floor to ceiling, with books. The way mirrors are placed there is a view around every corner. I’ve never grown tired of it and I feel safe in it. So now if I go into a house and hate it immediately then it’s just my cognitive mapping ability that’s offline and nothing to do with the purple shagpile carpet and orange feature wall.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I do want to thank His Ratness for considering the institution of marriage and how he can save it from those awful *gasp* same-sex people who think they *horror* should be allowed to commit to each other. I mean JUST LIKE US normals. I admire him for standing up on the day of the Anti-Christ and throwing his Godliness in the Devil's face.
Now let's really save the institution of marriage and shove all skanky blondes in those detention centres we've got standing idle. Another idea would be to let legislation go through but do a little deal with God. Any gay person proposing marriage to another would instantly be smitten with Ruddock's visage and that should stop them in their tracks. I'm sure I could think of others but I'm having phantom pains due to bodkins being stuck in odd places.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Monday, June 05, 2006
I'm not bad at craft but definitely the world's worst photographer. I used to make these little mice, from my own design, in pretty flowered cottons for gifts for babies. They have shank button eyes, lacey ears and ribbons hold up their tails. Stuffing the tails was an art in itself. I sold hundreds of these until sales stopped dead, just like that. It took a while to figure out why but I finally did. Mothers didn't dress their babies like babies anymore. Nothing pretty was suddenly the rule and it was garish colours, baby jeans and walloping great boots on two month old tiny tots. They grow up fast enough without pushing it along. Stupid fashion conscious tarts. So now I make them with lavender inside and put them in the wardrobe. Fiddly little buggers but pretty.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Don't blog when tired, stressed, in pain, full of pain killers, eating almond brittle, peanutbutter on toast, thinking too much and drinking port.
Especially don't blog when I'm doing all of those at the same time.
I'm leaving all the mistakes, it will remind me.
One thing I did leave out of that post, my first hangover. I found that the new toilet was the right distance for sitting and throwing up in the handbasin. Fancy mum thinking ahead like that.
Every day some health official or doctor is giving advice on how to avoid bowell cancer which is fine for the young but far too late for us oldies. Most of us can pinpoint the cause of any bowell problem and/or phobias in our memories of the backyard dunny. Throw in lung cancer as well if the BYD was made of Hardy's fibro and lord knows what carcinogens we soaked up through the skin from the phenol used to disinfect the wooden seat.
I can't believe how many terrors of my youth were caused by that small aromatic building. Our main house was built on sandy soil but a shortage of any drainage made the backyard a swamp which my mother tried to rectify by planting willow trees and my father undid by stabling a race horse there. The only light was on the back verandah which meant darkness halfway down the wooden path. Unless the moon was up, shining through the willow branches with the wind moving the leaves, talking to each other but it's okay mummy and daddy are here holding your hand. Yeah, right, back up, ma and pa are inside toasting their feet by the fire, "Just yell if you need us." I can't yell, the willow trees will hear me, if I pee myself, my mother will get me.
Now I see the beginings of the chronic anxiety that will keep shrinks and pharma companies in luxury for years.
We never had a light in the BYD, we were too poor to have that wonder of modern technology - a torch so the only chance was to hide a box of matches and hope no one found out. This led to more anxiety. Was it better to see where the spiders were and watch them watching me or stay in the dark and hope they stayed asleep. The only chance was to play Kipling's 'Great Game' and remember the exact location of every web in daylight. I don't know how they survived although flies were plentiful but it was the smell, not what you think nor the phenol but those dreadful, wrapped in purple cellophane, noxious de-odorant blocks commonly known as 'lavvy lollies'.
Then there was the horse. Dad built a fence using the BYD as part of it so the horse would use the wall as a scratching post or give it a bit of a wallop with a hoof. His best trick was to open the door and shove his head inside and that head and those teeth were enormous to a sitting child. How many times have I read in books about a horse's gentle snickering, forget it, this beast could smell fear, the snickering was sarcastic. No good banging on the walls for help, that dislodged the spiders and got the earwigs going. Even worse was making the big escape to find he'd done his second best trick, rolling under the bottom rail and standing on the path to the house. I was as glad as mum was, the night he jumped the front fence and trotted back to his old stable.
Now the wooden path was another hazard to negotiate to the BYD. My mother made it from wooden blocks dug into the sandy soil without cement. When it rained they floated away and I would hold to bursting point before tackling a swirling torrent. Water like that kills earthworms and they float and it doesn't matter how old I get, I will never walk through dead earthworms. It was a great day when Dad came home from the pub with a load of "hot" concrete blocks off the back of a truck.
Then there was the never-ending terror of being caught 'on the job' by the 'man with the can'. Dad bribed him to come more often, usually in the dead of night but never to a timetable. He actually had an apprentice. There were tricks to be learned. Never hoist a full one, tip a bit out son, but not where anyone can see. Our labrador dog was a digging type of dog and the DM's apprentice missed the hole by the gate going in but he certainly went to the bottom, with a full one, on the way out. A lot of workplace negotiations went with that incident and reparation in the form of a few dozen bottles of VB. One Christmas, unexpected visitors saw dad out at midnight digging a deep hole to bury a slight overflow, he'd have made a great parliamentarian.
In one of her beautifying moods mum built a wood and chicken wire fence, five feet high, to hide the BYD. My sister, the gymnast, would use the top as a practice beam until the day she overbalanced. She ended up hollering for an hour before dad could stop laughing and help her pull her foot out of the dunny wall. He left the hole there with her name underneath it. She and I would stand at the bus stop and watch in horror as the school bus and the dunny cart raced neck and neck down the hill. We had two options, pray the school bus would get to us first or run like the devil down the side road to the next street.
When we finally got the sewerage connected mum went crazy. The new toilet attached to the house was built to her specifications. It was half the size of my bedroom. It had two windows with frilly curtains, wall paper, full length mirror and a hand basin with running water. Dad put his foot down about an expensive light fitting so mum bought a cheap plastic one and put in a 100 watt globe. After it melted and dropped on his head, twice, he gave in.
I think this covers most of my idiosyncrasies and phobias, anxiety, dead worms, horses, dark nights, never shutting the door, 100w globes to shine in every corner and never, never run out of toilet paper. Thank you Andrew, your cheque is in the mail, use it appropriately.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
In those 68 days Mum has had a mammogram, ultra-sound, core biopsy, CT scan, bone scan, Chest X-ray, heart scan blood tests, breathing test, mastectomy and lymph node removal. She came through the op with flying colours. It even surprised the oncologist at how well she went.
She has to take the tablets for the rest of her life but today it wasn't said how long that life would be. The doctor gave her too much information and I could see her zoning out. Already the wound cut has opened along one end, only 10 mm on Tuesday at the clinic but today it was more like 30. He said it might take 4 to 6 weeks to heal from the inside out. There is also a small build up of fluid at the breast bone. The tumour was much larger than the scan showed but only one node was cancerous. So while everything visible has been removed, the cells can still be floating around somewhere.
She got in the car and asked me if I got everything he said, that's so she doesn't have to think about it. As long as I know, she's happy. Did it mean she was cured? I told her to ask again in 5 years. My sister walked in, took one look at my face and handed me a large chocolate bar. She knows the signs too well. The breast care nurses don't do home visits so I have to watch for infection and do the dressings, which is no problem but what happens to really sick women who can't make it to the hospital? District nurses, I suppose but our doctor is willing to come if he's needed.
The old girl hasn't quite given up but she did tell me to stay home for the weekend. Bad sign, no manipulating to get me to keep her company. I never thought I'd miss that. I picked up her morphine from the chemist and her tattslotto but it was a long walk home in the dark. The leg went again about 3 houses from home. It's just a leg, I can fix that.
Friday, June 02, 2006
The only thing to do on a cold afternoon and there's no chocolate hidden anywhere in the house, is to make a visit to Miss Chika at http://shewhoeats.blogspot.com and drool over her beautiful food photos.
This is Ginger-scented chocolate mousse with mango and passionfruit.
Cubes of fresh Mango, pulp and seeds of passionfruit mixed with ginger syrup, light and smooth chocolate mousse with ginger bits, topped with chocolate shaves.
I used to make a marshmallow pavlova and fill it with chocolate mousse and drizzle melted chocolate over the top. Then I'd serve it with a small glass of Drambuie to cut the sweetness. No wonder I have a bum like a working bullock. Do you know you can actually taste memories?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I prunned this right down 12 months ago when the fruit didn't grow to more than grape size. It was overshadowed by a huge Blue Spruce so that was next to go. I think that's why the mandarin has come on so well, more water and sun. Notice my politically correct lawn, pine needles, grass tufts and dirt. It softens the landings when the possums fall out of the tree. When it rains on the blossoms, the smell of mandarins fill my bedroom.
Two years ago, I cut down the lemon tree to the second rail on the fence. I couldn't reach the ripe fruit at the top so I thought 'That'll learn ya!' but it loved it. In the grass at the bottom is a large cat and the fence is over 6 foot tall. It's a bit hard to see the lemons because the stupid things aren't ripe yet and I still haven't figured out how to get the top ones down.
I had never prunned anything until the Blight left and six years ago I did it a lot easier than these days. I just take my time, a few branches each day.
There are only two rules for cutting branches. Don't hang on to the branch you're cutting and don't stand under the branch you're cutting when hanging on to the branch next to it. In all cases this leads to stitches and a black eye.