going someplace nice, without going anywhere in particular

 

three

What a gift it is to have a friend of many years standing. To be gifted with two such friends is entirely priceless! Lunch time found me at a local restaurant with two of my Ladies who Lunch. It was a three hour lunch with the obligatory glass of chardonnay, which this time went straight to my head.

Sometimes, I imbue my one glass and not notice any inebriation, but today, that glass, sipped slowly through lunch, went straight to my head. It did not hinder holding up my end of the gossip with humorous and intelligent witticisms however.

One of the ladies has a son in law who is a pilot and is with the Australian forces newly arrived in Iraq. Her daughter is moving house next week, and so friend has to shoulder to the grindstone to assist daughter. Mothers never cease being mothers, do they?

Speaking of mothers, after our lunch I visited my sister who is laid up with a fractured toe. She fought the corner of the shower cubicle and the shower won! I gathered together a pile of books to occupy her while she takes it easy for a few days. This week would have been her husband, BIL’s  birthday, the first without him, so a bit of a sad week for her, and I hope a bit of light reading will take her mind to another place for a few hours.

Her daughter was also visiting, and she had her lovely  baby girl with her. I mentioned her birth in June when the baby was born at just 29 weeks weighing 820grams. Well, four months along, baby weighs just over 8 pounds. She is a beautiful little girl who sleeps her day away, and spent sometime asleep on my shoulder or in my arms. A change of pace after Petite Fille this week, and it brought back to me how fast time passes.

I had left home at 11.30 and arrived back just before 6pm, a long time of being nice, especially for me, but what a lovely way to end the holidays.

I am going to sleep tomorrow, though. Oh yes, indeed, very late; very, very late.

sleep black

Saturday in the country

open window

In an odd state of mind tonight.

Today would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday, so I have been thinking of him throughout the day. I don’t think I will ever stop missing him. Thinking of Dad leads me to thinking of BIL as the first anniversary of his death is not all that many weeks away. I guess mortality is on my mind.

I have more reasons to love my new doctor; for when I returned to have the stitches removed from where the mole was removed he informed me that the report stated that it was well on its way to turning into a melanoma. My new doctor may have just saved my life!

My body loves to make crazy cells : eye tumours, cancer cells and time bomb moles. I guess I have a fairly good idea what my end entails! But not tonight, dear…

minerva birthday

First Saturday in a couple of weeks that I felt half human so I dragged the mixing bowl from its cupboard and baked a batch of savoury muffins and cooked some vegetable fritters to restock the freezer with my school lunches. I also made some cherry and dried fruit muffins for a surprise morning tea we are going to have for Minerva’s birthday this week. The best thing is that we will close the library for one break to party! I think the closing of the library will be more exciting for Minerva than the food, as the students do try her patience some days.

I tell her that the way we deal with the issue is often the issue, but she hasn’t taken the hint. Then again, she has been there 10 years and I expect I may feel exactly the same in another seven years time. Every year there is a group that we are so pleased are graduating, but alas, there is always another troublesome group to take their place.

I sent six of my year 11 students to to work with another teacher in another building yesterday. All they had to do was walk from A to B, easy. It was only minutes later that I looked out of the window to see one of the boys being walked down to the detention room by the deputy head. What could he have done in just minutes to get into trouble, I have no idea, but then again that particular boy I am sure will either have his head kicked in or end up in jail once he is on his own.

Goodness me, I really am on a downer tonight. On the up side, only three weeks until September break. Spring is coming and they have predicted a 29C day on Tuesday! Today was glorious, about 25C with clear blue skies. I threw all the windows open to air the house and wished that it would stay just like this all year round. I am sure that somewhere it does, but we will be dry and oh so hot before we know up. They say air conditioning has been approved for the Library work areas… I hope it is not a cruel trick.  Too many of those already.

 

getting with the spirits

Christmas cake 1

I have been a little into the Christmas spirit (and the alcohol spirits!) this week. First I created a “‘Tis the season to be reading” Christmas reading display in the library, and today I have baked our Christmas cake.

I actually followed the recipe to the very detail this year, something that will stun and amaze my daughters no end! They are used to Mama being a little hit or miss with quantities and the queen of substitutions! This time I made a shopping list, checked it thrice and made sure I had the correct ingredients in the correct quantities. Taste will tell, but looking at the cake on the cooling rack, I think it might be my best effort yet! Who would of thought – maybe being Martha Stewart OCD is a good thing!

I have all the gift shopping completed (online!), with most items hidden away for now. It is Petite Fille’s first Christmas, and she will have both Grandmas at her beck and coo all day long! Along with some young cousins, and lots of gift paper and boxes!

We are going German themed this year. I am “assembling” wurst salad. I have been checking Pinterest for German recipes and have been a little taken about at just how many of the “everyday” meals we had growing up were actually of German origin. I guess my mother grew up with a German grandmother who would have influenced the cooking a great deal. I have even tracked down German tea – East Friesian Tea, The rest of the menu is still in debate as all “bringing a plate” but we  are hosting at our house.

Yes, it will be sad without BIL this year, but we have a grandchild who will fill the house with renewed love , and fond loving memories of Christmas past. It is what it is – Christmas!

the empty chair

chair

It has been a difficult week or two. Monday was BIL’s funeral. He would have loved it! The was a recitation of the Hail Mary in Gaelic by a nephew by marriage; his daughter’s mother in law piped BIL out of the church and at the cemetery with haunting bag pipe music.  His favourite song by Eric Bogel, Safe Habour was played during the reflection period after Communion. His daughter had also created a beautiful PowerPoint that played during the mass. It had photos of BIL with all his family members, his and ours.

More than one person commented that it was the most beautiful funeral they had ever attended.

As BIL and my sister have spent their entire lives in our home town, they are known by many people, and of course we have large extended families as well. The police had to direct traffic through the town centre as we progressed to the cemetery.

There were baskets of rose petals to scatter across the coffin. The children present took to this with gusto and we all laughed when one little great niece upended a basket and shook it with earnest endeavour to make sure every last petal disappeared with BIL. I could just imagine BIL egging the children on, as he adored them.

Afterwards there was the obligatory cup of tea and finger food, which we were all dreading. Some of his nephews produced a few bottles of beer to salute him, making it a traditional Irish wake (BIL’s background was Irish, ours is German).

My sister has been a champion, holding everyone together. She says her most surreal moment was in the funeral home when she was faced with the selection of coffins.

There were coffins with aerial scenes of the local farming district, a coffin shaped like a tractor, another that appeared to be made from old fence palings. There was a sofa onto which Sister sank and asked for a coffee, it was all to much. So she sat sipping her coffee in a room surrounded by coffins. Her selection was more traditional!

I was given comfort by my dearest friend, who I have known since kindergarten. She and her husband both took time off work to attend BIL’s funeral. We reminisced about how BIL and Sister had taken us to our very first music concert – Cat Stevens back in August 1972 at Festival Hall. It was also something I had reminisced about with BIL in one of our last real conversations. Friend was also at their wedding earlier that year. When you make a childhood friend you never think that you will be comforting each other at funerals in your older years…

So, where to now? My sister will have to adjust to life alone, days restructured, plans refocussed. The rest of us have gone back to our every day lives. Every so often I stop and think “I can’t believe BIL is gone”, but he is.

Another empty chair at the table.

Beware the powers of the Flamingo Dancer

ireland

BIL passed away early Monday evening. His daughter sat on one side of his bed, his wife, my sister sat on the other. I stroked his hand to say goodbye and as I said “I’ll see you on down the road” his face relaxed and his breathing stopped.

Black humour as it is, the family tale is that I killed him!

If you don’t laugh, you cry…

in the land between

This wise guy was chilling it out down amongst the trees at the front of our property and took no notice of Mr FD and I as we took a photo of him. I suspect he even puffed up his pose for us a little more!

wise Owl

wise Owl

We lunched in the city at a restaurant and I had an odd little chardonnay with my wurst salad. Wurst salad is the modern equivalent  of the ploughman’s lunch – cheese, cold meats, pickle and radish. It was delicious though perhaps a little less salad dressing would have made it perfect. I just kept hoping the it was an olive oil dressing and therefore good for my arteries! wurst salad In the afternoon, we visited with BIL. No hospital picnics this time.

He is conscious, and he knew us, but his voice is almost inaudible and he starts a sentence and both volume and subject just trail away. Despite his illness and broken hip he has developed a Houdini act of crawling over the side of the bed rails between the rails and the end of the bed and has taken a couple of tumbles, including the one I mentioned last week. So, they have him in a bed that apparently costs about $40,000AUS that has an alarm that will sound at the nurses’ station if he sits up (his room is across from the nurses’ station) giving them time to run to stop him. It is quite the technical bed, with a mattress that puffs up in areas to relive pressure areas, and extends at the foot end as he slips down the bed (he is only 5ft 6 in so there is some room to go!) The calcium is leaking from his bones and this is part of the reason for the confusion. Eventually he will get drowsy and fall into a coma. He is also on morphine which will have its own impact. His kidneys are still working but his bowels and bladder weren’t doing their bit today.

It is so odd to ponder the gap that is about to open in our family. It is different when it is an aged parent, but when it is a family member of the “younger” peer generation it is almost surreal. We are walking in the land between life and death. We all have to face our cycle of life at some time, can anything ever prepare us for it though?

Sunday arvo

Recipes lily sandwiches

We visited with BIL this afternoon. Earlier in the day I had been told he was in a private room so I prepared a hospital picnic and took it along. Arriving at the hospital we found that BIL had taken a tumble late morning, trying to make it to the bathroom alone when no nurse came to help, bumping his head and cutting his hand, so they had “punished” him by moving him to a four bed ward, where they ignored him anew. He is in the orthopaedic ward and they are nowhere near as caring of dying people…hopefully they will move him back to palliative care soon.

Unperturbed by the presence of others, I set out my picnic fair and we toasted BIL with glasses of old fashioned lemonade and tucked into the food with a slight frenzy. We even got BIL to eat more than we expected which was gratifying as he is so thin now. As Mr FD observed on the drive home “he looks like a man with cancer”, as he is.

BIL seemed a little confused, which I hope was just the pain medication and not another sinister turn. He speaks so softly, just above a raspy whisper. A shadow of a man.

Our little festivity was interrupted by a call from a nearby bed by a male voice asking “Would your mate mind lifting my leg into bed, please?” A look of horror passed over Mr FD’s face when he realised he was the “mate” being referred to, but he did assist the poor man to lift his bandaged leg into a more comfortable position. Once again, the nurses were nowhere to be seen.

There have been so many cuts in the health system thanks to our new state government that there are not enough nurses on the wards, and no doubt those that are, must be stressed and exhausted. Certainly the ones we saw today were not in the best of mind frames; not even for the dying, as I said.

Oh, and their solution for BIL’s bathroom needs? To sit a large bedpan on his meal tray. Yeah, I am sure he can use that solo with a fractured hip. The man is dying, do they have to tear away his last shreds of dignity? Who could blame him if he asked Scotty to beam him up?

didyahavagoodweekend?

Incredibly busy weekend as Daughter2 flew home from Perth to see her Uncle BIL in palliative care. Mr FD and I still have respiratory infections so we were unable to visit with BIL, instead taking D2 to the hospital and then spending time in the cafeteria while she was with her uncle. He asked her to come back in the afternoon, after he had rested a little, and so we went and had lunch before she returned for a second visit. We couldn’t face the cafeteria a second time, so Mr FD and I put the seats back in our car and listened to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

I think we dozed more than we listened because it was nearly an hour later that I actually thought about the narrative we were listening to and realised that the CD player had some how been switched to random and so we had been listening to the chapters out of order! No, not a drop of alcohol or any of BIL’s medication had passed our lips.

Then we took D2 back to Brisbane where she spent the night with her sister, before they drove out to us, with Petite Fille for lunch and a visit with their Grandmother in her care facility. D2 then had the 5 hour flight back to Perth to be at work Monday morning!

Weekends are so segmented these days. Visits with BIL, my mother and then time spent with Petite Fille as we want to be a real part of her life. Two days are just not enough, and then there are my continual health issues, an immune system that can be challenged by a butterfly flapping its wings in an Amazonian rainforest!

I miss D2 dreadfully since she moved to Perth. She has built a good life there, even appearing to have met Mr Right. We are yet to meet Mr Right due to the tyranny of distance, but all signs (Mum, we are moving in together!) are that he is a permanent family member now. Hopefully, by Christmas we shall meet and greet, and not frighten him with our magnificence too much. At least he has Mr Boy (Petite Fille’s daddy) to look to for survival advice!

Children come to share your nest, then they leave for their own lives, before returning to make that nest bigger and better. And so it goes…

following the green and orange halls

curious Electric Cabs In New York City – 1896

As soon as the glass doors whooshed closed behind us, I regretted the fact that I had not packed a cut lunch. On our mission to visit BIL in his hospital room, and show off my new summer frock, less than 30 seconds passed before I realised that the direction signs we had used to find BIL’s ward last weekend had now disappeared. It was even possible that the one arrow that there was no faced the opposite direction!

Twenty steps in, Mr FD and I had a discussion as to whether we took the elevator now or later, and I was right, only to find the hall we had taken previously was now boarded shut.

I spied a ward man approaching so asked him for directions, but he wasn’t sure and he found a fellow ward man, whom instantly we recognised as having assisted us last week. He looked at us with some recognition, because we are unforgettable and I was looking particularly fetching in my new summer frock, and between the two men we were given directions.

Somehow we were misled and found ourselves outside the hospital kitchen. I threw myself upon a woman emerging from behind the kitchen door, and she said though she was unaware herself she thought the tray ladies would know and disappeared on her own mission.

Another ward man appeared and we brought him into our little nation of lost peoples and he was about to try to explain the way to us, when our now regular guide appeared from the end of the hall. I had the sensation that he had followed us, with an expectation of getting his big jollies from finding us lost and bewildered, but I kept my suspicions to myself for the moment.

Mr FD greeted him, “I think you helped us last weekend, but we were trying to find our way out” to which he did not even change his expression and merely replied “I know”.

It was obvious that he was going to recount his explanation, but then he decided, “Follow me, I will show you.” At that he opened a fire door and we exited from the building and into a drive way. Across the road was the emergency entrance.

We followed like meek little sheep, which is not something that comes easily to either Mr FD or moi, scurrying to keep up to his pace. Into the emergency entrance, down another corridor, around two more corners until we came to a green corridor, then into the elevator, which we exited once before the doors even shut to allow a patient in a bed to go up first (manners are an essential around the sick and dying, alas and alack). Back into the elevator up to the sixth floor and back along more corridors, orange this time. The last twenty feet were the only bits that were familiar!

BIL was lying in bed, and Sister and their daughter were sitting beside his bed. BIL is even thinner than he was last week, the outline of his teeth evident through the thinness of his cheeks. His toes so thin I could see the entire length of his toe bones and exactly where they connected with his foot.

Yesterday, he had a day at their daughter’s and he seemed in a good frame of mind, but so thin and obviously still in pain as he asked for pain relief while we were there.

I modelled my new Sunday go to meetin’ dress, not that I go to any Sunday meetings, and my matching pearls, for BIL as I explained that I had dressed to honour him. He appeared to be impressed or it could have been a grimace of pain, but I choose to believe he was suitably impressed. BIL has always been a good audience.

An hour or so later we retraced our steps, but this time we had to do the go up to go down trick in the elevator, and luckily found our way to the main entrance without too much folly because there was no way I was going to ask for directions again. We shared the final elevator ride with a family of four adults who were looking up at the floor numbers as we rode the floors and muttering almost incoherently, “up to the 7th floor and down to the 4th and put the left and right foot in…”

As we exited the hospital I remember thinking that the little ward man would miss me next weekend, because we would be in Hobart and so unable to visit. I hope he can cope.

Hopefully BIL will be able to go home again soon, otherwise I must remember to pack a compass and some emergency flares along with a packed lunch!

the nice of niceness

Happy weekend

Exceptional weekend being nice. Saturday, a friend dropped in early morning for coffee, then in the afternoon we visited with BIL in the palliative care ward.

BIL may be able to go home this week if they can control his pain with oral medication, but he also needs to be eating, which he isn’t all that much. He has lost a lot of weight.

The hospital is undergoing major expansion and has become a very badly signed rabbit warren and we were exhausted by wandering hallways. Mr FD was hobbling on his sore knee by the end and we almost came to a stoush outside one ward where Mr FD claimed he saw BIL, but it was a public ward and I knew BIL was in a private room. I think Mr FD was just over his scavenger hunt for BIL and was ready to claim any man who had gray hair and looked over 70! To keep Mr FD marching I promised that if I spied an abandoned wheel chair I would push him the rest of the way! Luckily for me we did not come across any, or I may have required CPR!

Our exit journey was no better, as we were led into a dead end at a fire door only to be rescued by a cleaner who told us to take the elevator up one floor, to then go down three floors! Next visit, I shall pack a compass and a cut lunch!

I wore my new shoes to entertain BIL. They made me quite the “coolest teacher” at school last Friday. Who said Librarian’s are boring?

shoes vanns

Sunday we had a play date with grand daughter, Petite Fille who will be 7 months soon, and is sitting with grace, and sporting two teeth. Grandma was on all fours on the floor showing her the finer techniques of crawling, but I think the sight of Granny, bottom in air before her was too distracting for her to actually go to the mechanics of crawling!

Five more school days and then HOLIDAYS! Chill the bottle now!