Monthly Archives: September 2017

Never Give Up!

Yesterday, I almost cried with joy…relief. It was a true Eureka Moment moment. Just like you can strangely sink into a pit of despair over that proverbial glass of spilled milk, I found myself close to tears of pure joy, just by having my carpet cleaned. The “new” carpet wasn’t perfect, and still has its battle scars (mostly thanks to the fish tank). Yet, the metamorphosis was UNBELIEVABLE!!

We have wrestled for years about whether to get the carpet cleaned, or replace it. While replacing it seemed the obvious choice, we couldn’t agree on what to replace it with. So, its been  lingering on life support for eternity.  It’s only thanks to the funding I’ve received through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), that this became possible. That’s largely because I didn’ need to think about it. I could just do it. “Have a Nike moment”. Well, to be honest it took a lot more than just a Nike moment. It took a hell of a lot of work to “be prepared”, and that could only happen because the dermatomyositis is in remission and I have this NDIS funding.

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Now that the carpet’s returned from the dead, I have a glimmer of hope that the rest of our house isn’t dead after all. As they say, success breeds success, even when it comes to something as small and seemingly insignificant as the carpet. Slowly but surely, I’m getting my dignity back…and not just in relation to the state of the house, but I’m also feeling the cogs moving much more smoothly within.

Being something of a lounge chair philosopher, this brings me back to something I’ve considered before:

Is your house is a reflection of your soul, who you are as a person or your state of mind? Or, does it stand alone?

Naturally, it would make logical sense that whatever “stuff” is going on in your household or your life, that your house would become some kind of mirror or reflection. However, that can work both ways. Some people seem to throw themselves head long into maintaining the fascade during a crisis, seemingly to hold up the crumbling interior. For us , that hasn’t been an option. I’ve been sick for way too long and even the support crew’s had it. So, at our place, the house and garden have also cracked…along with the mirror.

However, is this crumpled wreck of my self or the accompanying shell, the real me, especially when I’m not living alone? After all, a family home is a family home, a canvas each of us paints and even when we live alone, a house isn’t a blank canvas. There are functional, financial and cultural considerations which reign our vision in. Most of us can’t just splat our real selves everywhere. Or, at least shouldn’t!

 

The photo on the left shows me having a transfusion of IVIG. I had these every 3 weeks for five years until my treatment regime crashed with a flare and I had chemo. In the photo on the right, I’m playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata after a chemo treatment. 

Yet, strangely we are resurrecting. I’ve been in remission for 3.5 years. Moreover, about four months ago, I was approved for our National Disability Insurance Scheme and any looking back has only been to celebrate my onwards and upwards progress. Well, that’s aside from my usual bout of severe chest infections, and the operatic cough which hails from the dark side of Hades. Indeed, I’ve been wrestling with all sorts of horrors lately as I’ve barked my way along some grueling, grim tributory of the River Styx filled, which is populated by all sorts of ghoulish spectors and shadows. Just picture the grim reaper, and I definitely believe he’s been stalking me for the last four weeks. However, I’ve become a seasoned veteran of the battle, and his attacks are not as severe as they once were.

 

Anyway, under the NDIS, I’ve been able to get extensive help at home and we’re steadily chipping away at years of neglect, struggle and the too hard basket, which has been overflowing with so much rubble that it’s toppled over.

So, you could just imagine my relief, my exuberarant joy and tears, when I said: “Hello carpet” yesterday.

It was also: “Hello sky”, because I also had the windows cleaned and much to our amazement, they’re clear. My daughter even joked this morning, that the magpie might fly into the glass and hit it.

The state of the windows was just another thing I’d switched off to. I know people do get their windows professionally cleaned, but this was out of our league and in terms of DIY, we’ve been struggling to put one foot in front of the other before NDIS. Windows, to me, is a computer thingy.

So, even though I’ve missed my usual contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share this week, I’d love to invite you round for coffee right this minute. That is, while the windows and carpet are in a blissful state of suspended animation, and you can actually see the floor. I know it won’t take long for trouble to return. We’re moving into Spring here and we have a little black dog who covers our carpet in a layer of felt. We also have two kids and my husband and I are also human.

In other words, we live in the real world…not Facebook or a magazine.

Have you experienced anything like this lately? Something you would call a “Eureka Moment” which has almost had you jumping out of the bath and running naked through the streets like  Archemedes? If so, I’d love to hear it and these stories are so encouraging to people in the thick of the storm, who doubt there’s any way out.

dog in the storm

Stupid me actually drove into this storm in search of “the shot”. I ran to my car which became my “tin can”, while hail the size of a golf ball pummelled the car. Even the sound alone, was terrifying.

On the other hand, if you’re currently feeling trapped in the thick of the storm, know you are not alone. A lot of people have been there or are there right now, and are only too willing to hold your hand either figuratively or in person. I would encourage you to hook up with some people sharing your experience, especially veterans and survivors of your particular battle. I know I’ve certainly found a lot of comfort with “my colleagues”, my “fellow travellers” in the same boat.

Take care and don’t forget to count and even search out your blessings. There’s always something, no matter how small. Or, perhaps it’s so big, you’ve only seen its feet.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Rowena sun

Here I am at Railway Park, Byron Bay. The artwork was done by a mum whose son died in the park from an overdose of prescription drugs. She undertook this art in the park project to help save others.

 

Our Father’s Day!

Happy Fathers’ Day!

While I’m tempted to philosophise about what it means to be a Dad, I think I’d better stick with what I know and focus on what it means to be a daughter and my observations of my husband. Of course, it’s very easy to hop up on the soap box when I’m in my own blog bubble on my laptop and my husband’s watching a very strange movie, Tropic Thunder, which seems worse than any Dad joke. However, even now, there’ s that caution and thank goodness for that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see my Dad for Father’s Day today, and by the time we managed to call, he was already in bed. We’ve put our celebrations off until we’re all feeling better. However, Mum said that he was up early to play golf this morning and quite frankly Fathers’ Day should also be about Dad doing what he wants to do, because even though my Dad’s retired, he still has responsibilities.

“To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.”

Euripides

My Dad has always been my rock… stable, reliable, always there for me. Most of my life, I’ve been anything but a rock…the social butterfly, the panic merchant, the deep thinker who could easily fly off the deep end. Whenever life got tough and I’d start to complain, Dad would tell me “this’ll put hairs on your chest” or he’d quote our then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser: “Life isn’t meant to be easy”. We had a family whistle, which I later found out Dad had inherited from his own father. If we were lost, he’d whistle out to us and it was such a relief. I also remember being small and looking right up over the top of the crowd to find Dad. Not quite a tall as Roald Dahl or the BFG, Dad was noticeably taller in a crowd. Speaking of being tall, Dad also looked like John Cleese back in the day and I didn’t understand why people made such a joke of the Nudge ad on TV: “Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more”. Dad buried my dead goldfish and the dead tadpoles because I was too scared to go near them and how he encouraged me to drive out of my comfort zone. Whenever I was nervous about driving somewhere, he’d ask me if my licence prevented me from going there. Obviously not, so there was no reason I couldn’t do it. I also remember being terrified when notorious criminal William John Mundy escaped from gaol. I clearly remember checking the windows and being absolutely terrified and Dad said he’d protect me. I felt so safe. Dad was invincible. Back then, I really could believe father knew best and Dad was only a very small still away from being Superman.

Rowena & Geoff

I don’t know why we have to grow up. Or, at least go through that whole process where we realize our parents aren’t perfect and tend to focus on the gap, instead of being grateful for the abundance we have and the enormous, immeasurable sacrifices they’ve made.

Now, that I’m a parent even if I’m not a Dad, I can appreciate the enormity of the task. That being there 24/7 x 18 if not a lifetime is beyond huge. Of course, there’s love. Such love and delight in our kids, but so much worry, concern and just wanting to ease their path, understand who they are and try to see the world through their eyes instead of our own.

So, I’d like to thank my Dad for that. I’d like to thank my Dad for still being there for me and our family. Both Mum and Dad have helped us extensively through a very intense time with my health, especially when the kids were small and I was hospitalized for seven weeks. I still remember Dad’s reassurances at the start, and how they were running out of oomph by the end…”you coming home any time soon?” Having a 3.5 and 18 month year old left on your doorstep for so long without warning is just the sort of thing which “puts hair on your chest”. After all, it no matter how much we might love our little people, the heart might be willing, but the body can struggle to keep pace. My Mum and Dad have been truly amazing.

Rowena & Papa 1969

Look at those little eyes looking up at my grandfather for the very first time…you can feel the love between us. 

Fathers’ Day is not just an opportunity for me to remember my own Dad, but also my grandfathers. My Dad’s Dad was a real character…a dentist who used to buy soft drink by the crate every weekend (large family) and used to give us horsey bites under the dining room table in such a way that you’d bang your knee. He also did the coin behind the ear trick. I remember my grandparents travelling and my grandfather bringing me back a very stately-looking English dress which he’s bought on Bond Street, an apron from Amsterdam, Denis the Menace in French from Paris and even a giving me a precious taste of some dark chocolate he’d brought back from Italy. I also remember the last time I saw my grandfather before he died of cancer. He took his oxygen mask off, even though he was having a coughing fit, because he didn’t want to scare us. He held my hand and told me the importance of hands. He’d worked as a dentist and my grandmother was a concert pianist so hands had been very important to them. They had worked with their hands. Expressed themselves.

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I don’t remember anything about my grandfather’s father, known as “Pop”. Not unsurprisingly, he died before my time. However, Dad has a funny story about when he went away with pop to visit his aunt inter-state. Well, Pop handed my Dad a hip flask of Scotch. Dad was about 7 years old and he’s pretty sure Pop asked him to drink it. Well, later on, Pop asked Dad for it back. Apparently, he’d asked Dad to mind it and we get the feeling he was hiding his stash from Gran. He wasn’t very impressed when Dad had tried the stuff. Indeed, although he hated the taste and it would’ve been pretty rough for a young kid, he thought he’d better do his best. I found out in recent years, that Pop had lost his eye in a childhood accident in the family foundry and stove-making business. I admire his tenacity, because most of the family didn’t know about it. He ust got on with it.

Father’s Day is rather mixed for my husband. While he’s been celebrating being a Dad himself for the last 13 years, his own father passed away when Geoff was 16 so many years ago now and his funeral was a week before Father’s Day. That’s like a double-dose of tough but then shifting gears and celebrating the present. Well, to be honest, parenting is more about ups and downs and loving your kids through the entire spectrum of experience.

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Our son courageously cooking bacon this morning and dodging spitting fat. 

Anyway, our Father’s Day began with bacon and eggs. Our son has become quite the bacon cook around here and our daughter made the eggs. I made the coffee. Then, we were off to Church where they’d set up a photo booth in front of a vintage black Mercedes and we had our photos taken. They also provided meat pies for the dad…and the kids. Yet, they still felt hungry enough to have pancakes for lunch back home. I was an egg short and added a good shake of custard powder to produce some rather yellow-looking pancakes, which thankfully passed muster. My family is very fussy.

After lunch, the day went down hill…rapidly.

In a moment of deluded madness, I’d booked the carpet cleaner in for tomorrow…and the window cleaner as well. We’ve never had our carpets or windows professionally cleaned before, but I can get it as part of my disability support package. There was just a slight problem of finding the carpet in certain areas of the loungeroom and also needing to move furniture. Indeed, you could say that we’ve moved mountains this afternoon. So, much for Geoff relaxing on Father’s Day!! He was doing a lot of moving, shaking and sweeping.

I guess you could call that a father’s day.

Did you celebrate Fathers’ Day today? What did you get up to? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena

Puppies!

As you may recall, a close friend of mine volunteers for a pet rescue organization. Well, she messaged me during the week and mentioned they had PUPPIES!!! Of course, I invited us round for a playdate. Indeed, we were there in a flash and my husband even came along to supervise procedings. He had grave concerns about us arriving home with a pup! I wonder why????

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My daughter with one of the pups.

Coco and her sister, Daisy, are apparently black, curley-haired retrievers and are six weeks old. They are pure black, except Coco has a small splash of white on her chest. Both of them looked like miniature versions of our Border Collie x Cavalier, Lady, only they have shorter ears.

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The puppies up on the trampoline with the girls.

Not surprisingly, these pups were irresistable, and it’s amazing how I can find them trying to chew up my shoes and even my good jumper endearing. Of course, there was that typical Australian; “she’ll be right, mate” nonchalence, but they were so cute that I almost couldn’t care. I even let them chew on my finger.

We will be getting a second dog in the not to distant future. Indeed, my friend has told me there are some border collie puppies coming up and I’m thinking about joining up as a volunteer and hosting these. See if one of them clicks. So far, I haven’t been seriously tempted by any of my friend’s lodgers. They’ve been wonderful dogs but I still feel lie we’re hanging out for another Border Collie pup.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the pics.

xx Rowena

The Australian Magpie.

I photographed this magpie or “Maggie” at my friend’s place today. While they can become territorial and aggressive during Spring, they’re found  throughout most backyards, at least around here, and are mostly very tame. It’s quite clear that they’re worked out humans are a great source of food and they make themselves part of the family. Our elderly neighbours were being eaten out of house and home by their baby magpie who’d also make quite a lot of noise demanding to be fed. My friend volunteers for an animal rescue service and the magpie has discovered the puppies food bowl and helped itself. I guess you could call it “fast food”. Apparently, we have a family of maggies living in our jacaranda tree out the back. Geoff tells me that they’re “resprayed” our Morris Minor.

What types of birds do you have in your backyard? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

It’s Been Flubberized!

While intrepid jungle explorers receive all the kudos, quite frankly, I feel any parent brave enough to delve through their child’s school bag deserves a gold medal, a statue in their local park and their own TV show. This is where such lofty ideals as COURAGE, BRAVERY, PERSEVERANCE and PERSISTANCE  hit the road, and you find out whether you are mighty… or a mouse.

Rowena 1981

You’d never suspect this neat girl would have rotting yogurt or a squished banana in her bag, would you?!!

Thinking back to my own school bag, there were definitely some serious horrors in there. Indeed, there were horrors of Elm Street proportions. Undoubtedly, the worst of it had to be the burst yogurt. Don’t ask me which fool put a yogurt in their bag without a raincoat or any form of protection. No one likes a dobber. However, I still remember the stench, and fishing out wads of soggy paper caked in the stuff and trying to salvage affected exercise and text books. Of course, I didn’t clean it up very well and the smell only got worse, and no doubt even mould set in. This was pure YUCK in capital letters!! A school kid’s equivalent of a toxic spill. I don’t remember Mum cleaning it up either. That was my job…along with cleaning out the squashed banana, which was also brutally slaughtered in that very same school bag. I feel ashamed to admit it now, but I was evidently a repeat offender,  who didn’t learn from her mistakes.

Unfortunately, my daughter has followed in my footsteps. While she did a fantastic effort with a squished banana, she’s now found a whole new catastrophic realm. Her school bag has “flubberitis”.

Flubber is a type of slime. If you’re from my era, you might recall that you could buy slime in a little green plastic can. I loved this was fanastic, goopy ooze.

On the other hand, this slime is quite different. You make it yourself and it looks and smells like some deadly toxic pestilence straight out of Ghost Busters. Slime replicates very, very quickly and is currently spreading through schools and homes faster than the common cold. If you have a good look around in the playground, you’ll see its tell-tale \ smear on just about everything, just like another substance we’ll simply call> “nasal secretions”.

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Flubberitis…goopy slime on the march inside my daughter’s school bag. At least, it smelled like fresh apples. 

My daughter’s been operating a slime laboratory in her room for the last six months and I haven’t been impressed to find slime stuck to her sheets, carpet, school hat, skort. Depending on the type of slime, it’s footprints vary. Not quite as bad as chewing gum, it still likes to stick around and can be a beast to get rid of. Moreover, there’s all the apparatus used to make the slime. That’s simply mess on mess on mess, even if you can appreciate that it’s “art”, “science”, “an alternative to screen time” or “better than drugs”.

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My daughter is keen to export slime to even the remotest corners of the globe…a budding entrepreneur. 

I have mixed feelings towards my daughter’s obsession with slime. On the positive, making slime is a creative and scientific venture. She not one mixes the core ingredients together, she and her friends add things to vary it’s texture and colour such as foam balls and glitter.  There are a multitude of different recipes and kinds of slime out there and it really is quite fascinating for anyone with a science bent. Moreover, many people also enjoy the sensory stimulation of playing and fidgeting with the slime. This can be a lot of fun and may also relieve stress. On the other hand, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like stuff sticking to your fingers, some slimes won’t be for you. I personally find many of the slimes feel quite icky on my skin and I don’t like touching them at all. Smell is also a problem and has caused breathing difficulties in our family. I also find the mess and the smears across just about every surface annoying. I’ve also been concerned about her sniffing all that glue, and she’s now been told to make it outside.

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Like Mother, like daughter. This was where I made potions out of wildflowers when we were living on acreage out at Galston, Sydney. This was my happy place and this has always been a much-prized photograph. 

That’s how I see the stuff. My daughter finds it mesmerizing and a real sensory indulgence, especially when she’s added things like foam balls, sparkly glitter or sand to the mix. I’ve seen her squishing it for hours, as it releases some kind of magic I struggle to understand. Yet, that doesn’t matter as long as I can show some interest and listen to her accounts of the ducks’ guts of slime.

It could be better. It could be worse.

Have you or your kids had much to do with slime? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

xx Rowena