Monday, November 13, 2017

Holiday

Stella and Tony came up for their week of recuperative holiday. I think they enjoyed it, even if both of them were rather tired at the end of each day.  Having said that, Stella looked a bit better and managed to do more as each day went by.

We went out to the Stocklands shopping centre up in Wendouree for a potter around in the shops and a spot of lunch.

We went for coffee in the Old Bluestone Cafe in Buninyong that none of us had ever been in before. It's very cute and our iced chocolates, hot chocolate and carrot muffin were delicious.

Lindsey, Jim and I went out for supplies, a bed pole and a few other bits and pieces and came back with all of that - and a small scooter for Stella.  I think she was a bit surprised :-)

We had to wait in all day for someone to come and do a blood test for Stella on Friday.  They didn't come, which was frustrating. It was a lovely day and we could have gone out somewhere. Turns out they went to Mount Martha instead. Which was even more frustrating because they had been told she would be with us all week and had successfully managed to come on Wednesday to do it.  I think there must have been some muddle in the communications department!

On Saturday we took Stella and Tony to the fortnightly little farmers' market by the lake.  It was an absolutely glorious morning and the lakeside was busy and bustling.  I think they very much enjoyed the market and the lake.

On Sunday Lindsey drove Stella and Tony back to Mount Martha. Jim and I went too but in a different car. We all met up at the Dava for lunch, then took Stella and Tony back to their place. Lindsey and Jim went back to Mount Helen, leaving me in situ for the week.  Some hours later Lindsey rang me.  "Where are your car keys?"  Well, I assume they're in my backpack, where they should be.  But no.  They were in Jim's pocket in Mount Helen, leaving a completely redundant car at Mount Martha!  I have arranged to borrow Stella and Tony's car on Wednesday to go to work, where Lindsey will deliver my car keys, Stella's walking stick which unaccountably got left behind and various other bits and pieces.

Today we have been to see the GP (who is very pleased with Stella's progress). We have also organised visits from the blood test people (to the right address this time :-D ), a home care package person and made an appointment for a back X-ray.  Oh, and we also managed to stop for some lunch and sort out the pharmaceuticals. Not a bad day's work


Stella on her new scooter, Mount Helen
Photo by Lindsey

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Waiting

So. The plan was to go to Melbourne in the car on Tuesday and go to work, staying in East Melbourne, leaving Jim, Sam and Rupert in charge at Mount Helen.

Tick.

Wednesday: Go to work, back to the flat.

Tick.

So far so good.

Thursday:  Go to St Vincent's for my 9:00 Plastics Out Patient clinic, see the hand therapist, go to work, go back to Mount Helen late in the afternoon.

Uh oh!

There was some kind of problem in the Out Patient clinic.  I waited and waited and waited and waited to see the doctor (who was quite pleased with my hand).  Then I waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited to see the hand therapist.  My usual therapist was away on Thursday so I saw a final year physio student and then a qualified therapist who checked over what the student had done.  I have more exercises to do, on top of the original ones.

I didn't get back to the flat until 1pm.  It hardly seemed worth going to the surgery so late in the day so I rang in my apologies and came back to Mount Helen earlier than expected.

On Friday I had to take the Honda in to have its brakes repaired.  The Honda place is in the centre of Ballarat. I had intended to take the bus back to Mount Helen, expecting that the car would be ready later in the afternoon.  When he said it would be ready at about 12:30 I decided to stay in town. If I had taken the bus i would only have been at home for half an hour or so before I would have had to head back into town.  Hardly seemed worth it. So I wandered into Central Square, pottered around in the shops, went for a walk around town and finally went to the library. Figured I might as well sit it out in there. I had my iPad with me and the library has free wifi.  All good.

Get a message.  Car won't be ready until 1:00.  Waited until about that and meandered back to the car place.  The car was on a hoist.  Clearly not ready yet.  In fact it was another half hour before it was ready to be driven away.  Still - at least the brakes work properly now.

Not a lot of waiting yesterday.  It was a strangely busy day for a Saturday. Lindsey, Jim and I went to the Bridge Mall market in the morning.  Then Lindsey and Ian went off, taking Rupert with them, to meet Emily for a lakeside walk and a spot of lunch.  Jim, Sam and I stayed behind and began planting seeds, sorting out veg beds and generally being useful in the garden.  When Lindsey and Ian returned, she, Jim and I went to Blackwood to raid the shop at the Garden of St Erth, calling in at another little garden centre on the way back.

And now we are waiting again.  This time for Lindsey to return from Mount Martha bringing Stella and Tony with her.  Stella escaped from the hospital this morning and they are coming here for a week for further recuperation.  Lindsey left at the crack of dawn this morning and they are due here at any minute.  In the meantime, Jim, Ian and I have tidied the house, prepared their bedroom and done some food shopping.

So an extra long long weekend for me.  No work on Thursday, none on Friday.  Tuesday is a public holiday in Melbourne and I'm not working tomorrow.  You never know.  I might even get some more seeds planted.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A lovely few days

We've had a lovely few days.

On Thursday I wanted to go to Kmart and the new one at Delacombe is closer than the one out at Wendouree.  So Jim and I went out there for a potter in Kmart and to look at the new shops that have opened since we were last there.  There's a new fruit and veg shop which had a table of produce that was beginning to look past its best.  Fill a small plastic bag for $1.  You wouldn't believe the amount of asparagus I got in my small plastic bag.  It was looking a bit withered at the end but the tips were perfectly fine.  Bargain!

Then we called in to visit our friend Pat who has recently moved into a retirement village not far from the new shopping centre.  It's very much like the retirement village that Stella and Tony live in - only considerably bigger.  She provided a lovely afternoon tea which was not bad going considering that she only had about ten minutes warning of our arrival!  It was good to see her and to admire her new unit.

On Friday I went to work bright and early with Lindsey.  I had a fairly productive day.  I've been asked to pick up some more of the admin that the nurses do, freeing them up to do less paperwork and more nursing and had some training on that.  I'm going to have to pick up some more time from somewhere to fit all the new bits and pieces in!  I got to the station on my way home to find that the train I was hoping to catch was on a platform as far away from where I had arrived as it was possible to be.  No realistic chance of catching it.  The next train was, for mysterious reasons, a coach.  It took a bit longer than the train would have but was quite a pleasant trip.  You can see more from the windows of a coach than you can from a car.  Mind you, had I waited a further 20 minutes I could have caught the train after that which was indeed a train and which trundled past us on its tracks while we were proceeding slowly along the highway. Still, I had plenty of time to read my new book or to gaze out the window. Jim was very pleased with himself.  I had originally intended to take the bus to the University but under the circumstances asked Jim to meet me at the station. He was a bit worried about whether he would be able to find his way there. To his relief he managed to navigate his way with no trouble at all.

Saturday evening saw Lindsey return from Melbourne, bringing Ian with her.  He had finally managed to make his way back from Canada, where problems with his flights saw him delayed by two days. I think he enjoyed his two days "holiday" in Vancouver but I also think he was glad finally to be home.  Sunday was a pleasantly quiet day.  Jim has been busy preparing the vegetable garden for the spring planting.  Lindsey and I went out for supplies for the dogs, the garden and the pantry. Ian prepared Sunday dinner.

Yesterday Jim and I duplicated last Monday and went to visit Tony and Stella, calling in to Katrina's Kitchen on the way. Both of them seemed to be in good form. Stella is making very good progress with her new hip. We are hoping that she might be able to escape from the rehab unit later in the week.  Then the plan is to bring them both to Mount Helen next weekend for a few days to allow further recuperation.  In the meantime, Tony has lots of delicious stews and casseroles to keep him going for the next week.

I didn't sleep all that well last night.  I woke up at around 2 and took ages to get back to sleep.  Then I had a weird dream in which Lindsey and I were in Japan at some sort of festival. There were lots of odd things going on so it took some time before we realised that there was a group of vegans trying to kill us!!  Odd behaviour for vegans.  Then Sam began banging at the door at around 6 which woke Rupert who started banging at the sides of his cage.  I'm tired out already and I haven't even left for work yet!!

Come to the, I am not dressed yet either.  Better get a wriggle on, I suppose.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Jim and I went down to visit both Tony and Stella on Monday, stopping at Katrina's Kitchen on the way to pick up some supplies for their freezer.  They both like Katrina's Kitchen meals and the big advantage is that you pop them in the oven and 30 or 40 minutes later you have a complete meal ready for you.  They mostly do online sales - alas, they don't deliver to Ballarat.  Not that we need ready meals, really.  Fortunately, they do deliver to Mount Martha where ready meals are proving to be very useful.

Anyway.  We picked up Tony and went off to visit Stella who was looking really quite good.  She is ambulatory with a wheelie frame and seemed quite cheerful.  Emily and Jess were there when we arrived and left soon after. Jim, Tony and I had lunch in the hospital cafe. They do nice pies in the cafe.  We took Tony back home and then returned to Mount Helen.

I went to Melbourne with Lindsey on Tuesday morning and trundled into work.  I was chatting to the practice manager and the practice nurse when my phone rang. It was Stella to say that she had been moved to the Rehab Unit where she is having physiotherapy, gym sessions and the attention of an OT.  Not bad when you think that was only a week since she fell and five days since her new hip was put in.

I went to the hand therapist in the afternoon who was quite pleased with my hand - although it has been very swollen since last Friday.  I now have an oedema glove, plus a silicone inset for my overnight splint.  And, of course, I have to keep doing the exercises and massaging my palm.  I had felt on and off as though my hand wasn't doing very well last week, but really it's doing fine.  I think I am just doing and expecting too much after only five weeks since the operation.

I decided yesterday not to stay at work until Lindsey finished at 7:30 and headed back to Mount Helen by public transport.  I have to say it was a very pleasant trip.  I did some Japanese practice and read my new book on my tablet and gazed out the window.  And Jim picked me up at the University bus stop which meant I didn't have to walk up the quite steep hill to get to the house.  It seems a bit lazy to be picked up such a short distance from the house but I do not enjoy that climb at the end of the tram, train and bus trip back from the surgery.  I am thinking that I might go back down with Lindsey tomorrow morning.  She is not coming back here after work tomorrow so I had been intending to take the car.  But I am now thinking that I might go with her and come back by tram, train and bus but perhaps a bit later.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Last week

In the end, last week wasn't quite as complicated as I had feared it might be.  Though I suppose it was complicated enough.

I went down to Mount Martha and arrived late morning on Wednesday. At that point Stella was in the Frankston Public Hospital. It was decided that they would transfer her to Beleura in Mornington - which was something of a relief. We had thought they might take her to the Peninsula Private Hospital which is a perfectly fine hospital except that it is around a 30 minute drive along the freeway.  Beleura is less then ten minutes directly up the road from Stella and Tony's place which is much better for Tony going to visit a couple of times a day.

Anyway.  Stella moved to Beleura late in the afternoon and Tony and I went to check her out. I stayed overnight with Tony.  Lindsey came down on Thursday morning and went to the hospital. Stella had a replacement hip put in at 11:00.  In the meantime, Tony and I drove up to town so he could see his oncologist in Heidelberg.  Lindsey stayed in Mount Martha.  The oncologist seemed fairly happy with Tony's progress.  He is to have a number of scans and tests before he goes back in  couple of weeks.  We went back to Mornington and arrived at the hospital to find that Stella was now in the High Dependency Unit after the operation and looking quite chipper.  Lindsey and I both stayed the night with Tony.

Friday found Stella looking quite healthy but rather confused mentally.  Lindsey stayed with her and Tony, and I actually went to work!  Then on Friday evening both Lindsey and I separately went back to Mount Helen, where Jim was quite pleased to see us. He, poor thing, had been isolated there with only the dogs for company since Tuesday morning!

Stella continues to do well.  She is much less confused now and has moved out of the HDU.  She is ambulatory with assistance and a frame.  She has several visitors today and Jim and I will go to see her tomorrow.   We have been enjoying a very welcome (to me, at least) quiet weekend.

Lindsey and I managed an early morning walk on Friday morning.  It was a glorious ,morning:


You wouldn't have chosen to go for an early morning walk in Mount Helen today though.  It was a morning vista that wouldn't have been out of place in Tupton in autumn!!



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A walk in the Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens

I might not have found any mojos in the parks this morning, but I had a lovely walk.  It's a glorious morning.  And now I am going to have a cup of coffee, do my hand exercises, get organised and then potter off to Mount Martha to see what's going on.







We had a good weekend down at Mount Martha.  We headed down on Saturday afternoon and went back to Mount Helen on Sunday afternoon.  The sun shone and it was pleasantly warm. We had lunch at the Dava on Sunday and a very fine lunch it was too.








This week is kind of complicated, at least as far as who is staying where overnight.  So much so that we drew up a chart.  Not complicated for Jim, who will be at Mount Helen all week.  Ian is in Canada so we didn't add him to our chart.  But Lindsey and I have to be in different places through the week. I have an appointment with the hand therapist at St Vincent's and then need to be at Mount Martha to take Tony and Stella to Tony's appointment with the oncologist later in the week.  I need to go to work and then I want to be back at Mount Helen for the weekend.  Lindsey also has to go to work and has a series of meetings and training sessions to fit in as well, plus she's busy at the weekend.

*******

I started this on Monday.  Since then Stella has added an extra degree of difficulty to the week by taking a fall in their kitchen yesterday, smashing her head and breaking her hip.  Not surprisingly, she is now in hospital and is scheduled for surgery today.  I am heading down to Mount Martha later this morning and I think Lindsey is planning to go down to check things out at the end of the week.  I'll keep you all informed about progress - hip fractures are not good news for any one but especially not for the elderly.

My hand therapist, however was quite pleased with my hand.  It's making good progress and I have new exercises to do as well as the original ones.

It's expected to be 30d in Melbourne today.  It's about 15d at the moment (it's 7am so still quite early). I might have a cup of tea and then throw on some clothes and go for an early morning walk before it gets too hot.  I lost my walking mojo some weeks ago. I need to find it again.  Perhaps it's in the park.  I'll go and have a look.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Weekend

SATURDAY

Morning:

An early start.  Sam had been restless in the night and had kept Lindsey and Ian awake. They had been hoping for a bit of a lie in but Sam had other ideas.  Naturally, once the entire household had got up, Sam retired back to bed for the rest of the morning!

Lindsey, Jim and I headed to the monthly Bridge Mall market. Lots of lovely stuff.  We had run out of Jackaroo Dukkah.  Fortunately the spice lady was there so we could replenish supplies.  The egg and bacon sandwich people weren't there this month so we had to make do with a sausage sizzle sandwich and a delicious steamed bun with chicken ginger filling.  We got lots of lovely veg and some nice meat for Sunday lunch.

Ian stayed behind to see if he could repair the extractor fan which was making an unearthly rattling noise.  Alas, it needs to go to extractor fan hospital.

Lunch time:  

Online Japanese lesson.  Lots of fun and quite useful.  I can now ask if something's already been done and also say "No. not yet".

Afternoon:

We all went on a trip out to the Avalon nursery in search of fruit trees and some shrubs.

Evening:

An excellent butter chicken curry with many accompaniments for dinner.  An Ian creation.

Hand:

Coming along nicely.  A bit swollen today; I think I may have done too much with it yesterday. But hugely better than it was.  I can do more with it and I am getting better at the hand exercises.

All in all, a good day.

SUNDAY

Morning:

Lindsey and Ian slept much better last night.  Sam had been completely banished from their room!!

This morning Ian has embarked on a total cleanup and clean of the lounge room.  The dogs have been despatched to our end of the house.  Sam, in particular, is unimpressed by this.  Lindsey and Jim go to help with furniture shifting.  I decide that I might not be much help with only one hand in proper working condition and set to tidying up the kitchen and amusing the dogs

Lunch time:

Lindsey appears and says that we are going out.  This seems unlikely.  She is still in her pyjamas and dressing gown.  She reappears 20 minutes later and says she is ready - this time dressed in daytime clothes.  We leave Ian  shampooing the carpet and head out to lunch in the Olive Grove (full breakfast for them, lamb wrap for me even though I know there is to be lamb for dinner) and then scavenging in Bunnings and foraging in the supermarket

Late afternoon:

We get back to find Ian still in his PJs admiring his handiwork and drinking beer.  Standards are clearly slipping in this place!  He managed to reassemble the TV, put a chair and a small table in the lounge and provide a beer so Jim could watch the Grand Prix.

Dinner:

No time for the five hour lamb that Ian had planned, nor even for three hour lamb.  So Ian produced a lovely roast lamb dinner with many roasted vegetables

MONDAY

I'm not sure what happened to today,  Lindsey and Ian both left at about 8:00 this morning and then the day more or less vanished.  I vaguely remember doing lots of useful domestic things and Jim took Sam for a walk.  He also planted loads of fruit trees and a couple of shrubs.  Nevertheless, the day has disappeared.  Must pay greater attention tomorrow!




Thursday, October 05, 2017

A Thursday afternoon walk along the Yarra to the MCG.

I had an appointment at St Vincent’s this morning for my hand to be looked at and then to see the hand therapist. I go back to see the hand therapist in two weeks and the plastics clinic in four. I have new strappy bandages for the hand and a series of exercises to do.  People seemed quite pleased with it.  So far so good.

It had been raining when I walked up to the hospital but it had stopped when I came out again.  I wasn't far from the city centre so I wandered off into town and had a potter around in the shopping centres and in the lanes and arcades, eventually ending up down by Federation Square.  So I strolled along the Yarra and up to the MCG before heading back to the flat.  I haven’t had a proper walk for ages.  It was sunny and even quite warm.














Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Visitors for the weekend

Lindsey went down to Mount Martha on Thursday afternoon and came back on Friday bringing Stella and Tony with her.

Tony has now finished his course of radiation therapy, so they are not tied to regular hospital appointments and could get away for a long weekend.  Friday was a public holiday in Victoria and Lindsey wasn't working so it all worked out well.

We had quite a relaxed weekend, mostly.  Lindsey, Jim, Stella, Tony and I went out to lunch on Saturday and to do a bit of shopping, leaving Ian behind to watch the football grand final.  Apart from that we had quite a lazy day.

On Sunday morning, Lindsey and I took Stella out to the Elaine farm shop and came back through the forest to Navigators to the vegetable shack.  After lunch the three of us and Jim went out to Delacombe to inspect the new shopping centre.  Many of the little shops aren't open yet but it's a nice little shopping centre even so.  We had a good time pottering around.  Lindsey has bought a lightweight wheelchair which we took with us.  Stella would have struggled to spend all that time walking around.

So we didn't do anything very exciting but I think they enjoyed the change of scenery and the pottering around.  Plus they had the dogs to play with.  Interestingly, Rupert  took to Stella quite quickly but he really didn't like poor Tony at all.  He was OK when we took him to their place for the Fathers' Day family lunch but this weekend he barked and barked and barked at Tony.  We wondered if maybe the radiation therapy had made him smell funny.  We can't think of a thing else that has changed.

Lindsey took them back to Mount Martha yesterday, in time for their appointment at the dentist.

I woke up this morning and realised that I can actually use my left hand a bit.  It is still very bruised on the palm but you can see the veins and arteries on the back of my hand now and the bright yellow and blueness of my hand and arm are fading.  I am using both hand to type this!!  Not very well, it must be said, but nevertheless.  Not bad after less than two weeks.

I am off to Melbourne on the train later this afternoon, leaving Jim, Sam and Rupert in charge. I might even go wild and go back to work tomorrow.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Meanwhile, back at the hospital

I continue to be very impressed with St Vincent's public hospital.

Jim and I took my hand for its one week post operative check up yesterday.  We had to wait for a while but when I was called I saw a hospital intern, a nurse, a surgeon who popped in to see what was going on, the surgeon who did the operation and another nurse who cleaned and re-dressed the wounds on my hand. Once again everyone called me by my name and only the intern didn't tell me his name and what his role was.  However, he was wearing a prominent ID tag so I could see who and what he was.

Everyone professed to be very pleased with how my hand was going.  I have to say that so was I.  I took a photo of the wound (which I am happy to show you on request 😊). The second nurse said that it looked as though it had been bitten by a shark, but I think it's been remarkably well done.  The only area that concerned them was where the little finger joins the hand, which hasn't properly healed yet.  That has extra padding under the dressing.  Then I was sent to see a hand therapist who was very pleased that I had taken photos of my hand before surgery and of the wound.  It made her assessments easier. She has made a splint to keep my fingers straight, to be worn as needed during the day, but absolutely all night. No actual therapy yet, not until the last wound has healed.

My hand gradually swelled up over the course of the day and the bruising, which must have been contained by the bandages, has spread down my arm a bit.  The hand itself is very bruised. But I am beginning to be able to use my hand a bit and I can lie it almost flat on the table.

I go back next Thursday for another assessment in the Plastics clinic.  Then I am hoping to be discharged to the hand clinic.



I weighed myself yesterday morning before we went to the hospital and again this morning.  Assuming no actual change in my body weight in 24 hours, the plaster boat and bandaging weighed a little over 1kg.  No wonder my arm ached from time to time!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lunch (and other things)

On Monday morning we took ourselves by tram and train to Macedon,where we were met in the station carpark by John.  And oh look - there's Gillie.  I wonder why she's ... And coming up behind us from the platform was Irene who had joined the same train as us, but at Footscray, rather than at Southern Cross where we had boarded.  We should probably be slightly better organised next time!!

Back at their house, Chris had been busy preparing a veritable lunchtime feast, which we enjoyed with conversation, wine, music and merriment.  It was unfortunate that Jim had managed to hit the bottom of his backpack on a lurking rock when getting out of the car.  You usually have to try quite hard to break a bottle of wine, but Jim had managed.  Wine was leaking everywhere through the bottom of his bag .  Fortunately it wasn't the fizzy wine which might have been slightly more exciting.

We had a great afternoon.  Irene and Gillie left at about 3:30. They offered us a lift to the station but we accepted the offer of a later lift, kindly offered by Chris and John's son in law.  In his absence :-D  This allowed us to chat some more and to play with the grandchildren who came by after school.

We did not feel the need to join the regular crew for the Monday night steak feast!!!

We did get to the surgery on Tuesday morning for Jim to have some blood tests, to have his blood pressure checked and to have his ear looked at.  His BP is fine.  His ear is not.  It is very inflamed.  He has anti-inflammatory drops for his ear.  So his hearing in that ear is even worse what with wax, inflammation and ear drops clogging up the works.

After a late breakfast we headed back to Mount Helen where the dogs were very pleased to see us.

A fairly quiet day today.  We have done a very few useful things.  The dogs have pottered about.  Rupert went out into the back run and disappeared off.  Eventually I went out to find him.  It's an enclosed yard but I couldn't actually see him.  I found him right down the back, between the shed and the fence.  When I spoke to him, he turned to join me - and it was apparent that there was a problem.  He couldn't move properly.  In fact, as he had turned to look at me, he had caught his foot in a piece of metal attached to a pole that had either blown down or which he had knocked down from where it had been resting against the fence.  Poor Rupert didn't like that.  I managed to get him to stop struggling and to sit, while I wondered how I was going to sort this out one handed.  Fortunately, as he sat and relaxed, his foot came free. Phew.

It obviously hasn't inconvenienced him hugely.  I just heard a thundering of paws and saw Ian's book vanishing into our room, accompanied by a grey blur moving as fast as the speed of light.  He knew he wasn't supposed to have it.  Not only was he moving at speed, but he hurtled into his crate and sat as far towards the back as he could.  Happily, there is another door at the side so I could reach in and rescue it.  I don't think Ian has finished it yet.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Exploring

It was a glorious day yesterday.  The sun shone, the sky was blue and the temperature reached the mid 20s.  Until a late afternoon change saw a sudden drop in temperature, high winds and a couple of very sharp rain showers.

Jim and I were here on our own, with the dogs but no other humans.  We were almost out of potatoes. Something needed to be done!

We had many options.  We could have gone to a supermarket, or to a greengrocer, or to a farmers' market. So many potato purveyors to choose from. We decided to go out to the little farm shop at Elaine. Last time we were there we bought a bag of absolutely delicious potatoes. And it's a nice drive on a pleasant spring morning.

I passengered.  My paw definitely isn't ready for driving yet.

We picked up some potatoes and a few other bits and pieces and then decided to go exploring.  We drove up Settlement Road, along the railway line, then along a very pretty road around Mount Doran and then along a track through the forest up towards Lal Lal.  It was lovely.  Then we went from Lal Lal back to Yendon and on home.  Rupert, in particular, was very pleased to see us.

My hand is doing quite well, I think.  It hasn't hurt as much as I had expected - although it definitely didn't enjoy being squashed against the wall by Sam this morning in his breakfasty excitement.  It does hurt a bit, I suppose, but mostly it is pins and needly and I think my arm will be very happy at the end of this coming week if it is liberated from the plaster boat it is encased it.  The plaster and bandaging are quite heavy and the arm would like a bit more freedom of movement.  And it's funny because I know perfectly well that all my fingers have been laid straight on the plaster boat, but my brain is convinced that my little finger is curled under.  After all, it has been curling under for some years now.  I don't actually remember when I could lay my hand straight.

In the meantime, I am becoming more adept at doing things one handed, though it is quite hard to carry heavy, hot stew pots with one hand and doing up buttons an zips is definitely a challenge!

We are still here on our own with the dogs.  Ian is due back shortly, then we will hand over the dog-watching baton and head down to Melbourne for a couple of days.

Friday, September 22, 2017

St Vincent's Hospital

I have to say that I have been very impressed with St Vincent's Hospital.

I went for my initial appointment for my hand in the public system on the 16th of August. I went for my operation yesterday!  I had been graded as a Category 2, but I was obviously offered a cancellation, so I think I was at the top of the Category 2 list.

Lindsey and I arrived at just before 7am.  The person who was supposed to be ahead of me hadn't turned up so they put me at the top of the operating list.  Every single person who I spoke to greeted me by name, told me their name and what their function was. They told me what they were going to do, how they were going to do it and what the outcome should be.  Then after they told me what had happened.  They were all cheerful and friendly.  By 12:15 I was in the recovery room, arm and hand all bundled up. As well as the general anaesthetic I had had, my hand had had a prodigious local anaesthetic so was completely numb until I got up this morning. It's hurting a tiny bit now which is a useful reminder not to try and do too much with it!! Mostly, though, it has pins and needles.

The worst thing about yesterday was the getting up early in the morning and not being able to have a cup of tea.  No water either but it was the cup of tea that I missed.  They gave me a cup of tea later and gamely tried to give me the strong cup that I asked for. It wasn't the most exciting cup of tea I have ever had but I definitely appreciated it.  I enjoyed my sandwich as well.

Lindsey met me in the discharge room and we had headed out into the sunshine by about 13:45 to the flat. We were back in Mount Helen by a little after 16:00.

I was interested in Rupert's behaviour when we got back.  Lindsey had stopped to talk to the builders who were finishing off the fittings for the new folding doors in the lounge room.  Jim was in the other end of the house with the dogs.  Normally when people come back, particularly if they've been away for more than a few hours, Rupert bounces and bounds and rushes around. When I walked into the kitchen he was asleep on the couch.  He sat up, looked at me, then gently walked over, sniffed my arm, licked my chin and leant gently on on me, wagging his tail.  I don't know how he knew but he definitely did.  He bounded all over Lindsey when she came through. Sam greeted us with his usual, dignified pleasure.

Lindsey had bought steak for dinner. She did it with mashed potato, lots of veg and gravy.  I positively scoffed mine.  I was surprisingly hungry!

My hand before the operation. This is as flat as it would go:






Back from the hospital:



And today:

There are penguin stickers to help the healing,
and seal stickers Just Because


I have a proper Getting Better Penguin as well.  Lindsey bought him for me.  He looks a bit worried, though :-S



Monday, September 18, 2017

Talbot

Lindsey and I were driving from Mount Helen to work on Friday morning when Lindsey wondered if there were any markets to go to over the weekend.  It was the third weekend of the month and the ones we go to regularly are on the first, second and fourth Saturdays. We do go to Sunday markets occasionally, but not often enough for them to rise up in our consciousness on demand and we weren't familiar with any third Saturday markets.

So I looked to see what markets there were. And discovered that there is a market in Talbot on the third Sunday of the month.

Talbot is in central Victoria, about half way between Clunes and Maryborough.  It is a smallish place, population of about 350   Lindsey thought a market there might be on the small side, although  I had read somewhere that it was one of the largest Sunday markets in central Victoria. We pondered whether to go, it being about a 50 minute drive from the house.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we thought about whether to go. Jim hadn't ever been to that bit of Victoria. It was a very long time since I had had any reason to head out that way.  Lindsey also couldn't remember going particularly recently. We decided to go. After all, even if the market wasn't up to much it would be a nice outing and there would be bound to be lunch somewhere. So off we went. Ian decided not to go. He has quite a bit of travelling to do this week and felt that a day pottering about at home might be nice.

We had a lovely drive. The scenery was very pretty. The sun shone.  And it became clear that many other cars were heading along the same route.  We suspected that they too might be going to the market.  It didn't seem to be the sort of road that would ordinarily have lots of traffic on a Sunday morning!

And they were indeed heading to Talbot. We had to park some distance away and walk up. And the market was huge. It went on almost for ever. I think it had pretty much taken over the whole of the village.  It was also very busy.  Positively bustling!

It had some of the stalls that we encounter in our regular visits to Farmers' markets. It had lots of other stalls.  And it combines the Farmers' market with a town market and a flea market.  It was excellent.  We bought lots of lovely food, lots of other things, including a lovely wooden feeding station for Rupert. We made trips back to the car to offload things so we could explore more.  It was a great morning


Lindsey

Jim and Lindsey 

Talbot market in full flow


Jim looks as though he is standing in front of Mount Fuji :-)


We decided to head back to Clunes for lunch. We'll keep Maryborough for another day - they also have a market which we will go and inspect one day.  Clunes too has a market but it was on the way home so it seemed more sensible to call there for lunch.  And a very fine lunch it was too, at the Bread and Circus Provedore. I had fried chicken with chips - and was somewhat surprised by the size of the portion.  Jim very much more sensibly had beef and vegetable soup (although that was also quite a hearty portion.  Lindsey had a burger and chips, although her chips came in a basket and were nowhere near as numerous as mine.

A light lunch of chicken and chips

Jim's hearty bowl of soup

You can buy more than just lunch in the Bread and Circus Provedore

Our lunch venue

Clunes main street

I think there is a very good chance that the Talbot market will join our list of regular outings!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bummer!

The (second) sale of our house has fallen through.  It looked as though it was going quite well, but the buyer has changed her mind.  At least this time I suppose she changed her mind quite quickly, unlike the last one who took months before she pulled out.  We're going to try the auction thing again. At least at an auction once it's sold it's sold.  And maybe someone will be interested at a lower price than the last time we tried.  It's annoying though. And even more so because only on Monday and at vast expense we sent the contract and the Land Registry documents back by express post ready to finalise the sale.

I really do despair, though.  It's a nice little house.  I really don't understand why absolutely nobody wants to buy it.

If it doesn't sell at auction we will rent it out.  Or move back into it.  Or raffle it.  Actually - that's not a bad idea.  I wonder how you get a licence to raffle a house :-D

In other news, I have an appointment on Thursday to have my hand fixed.  I wasn't expecting to have it done quite so soon but at least this way it should be better enough for the adventures we are planning in December. It would have been very inconvenient to have my hand in plaster and thus be unable to drive in December!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hearing

Jim and I went down to Reservoir yesterday. The Australian Audiology people go to the surgery once every three months and do free hearing tests and I had booked us in.  I am happy to report that my ears passed the test with flying colours.  Jim's ears, on the other hand, did not fare quite as well.  Apparently they are completely blocked with huge quantities of wax and it was hard to tell if he didn't hear the beeps because of the wax or because of his ears.  He can't have another free test for 12 months but we can work on the wax starting immediately.

Except that we forgot last night!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

House Hunting

Jim and I went out looking at houses yesterday.  No - we haven't finalised the sale of the Tupton house yet.  We are still in the middle of filling in all the forms ready to send back to our solicitor.  But Lindsey is thinking about buying a house as an investment.  We are considering buying or renting when our house is finally sold.  So we thought we would go out and look to see what is available, taking advantage of some of the open inspection times.

We looked at a nice little unit in Mount Clear, near the little shopping complex.  It wasn't really the sort of house we would have described as our perfect house, being a fairly new unit rather than a Victorian cottage which is the style I love the best - but we were rather taken with it. It was in good condition. It had a courtyard for the dogs (it would need fencing between us and the immediate neighbours but that wouldn't be difficult). It had a functioning kitchen but you could update it if you were minded.  Plenty storage space, including a sizeable pantry.  A garage which was accessible from inside the house.  A lovely, lovely view. And therein lies the problem.  Too get the lovely view the unit is at the top of quite a steep driveway.  Jim and I walked up from the road.  I found it manageable.  Jim struggled a bit but also found it more or less manageable.  The issue isn't now, though. No worries while we are hale and hearty and while at least one of us can drive. But in five or ten years time ...

It's probably worth a second look, and there is another unit in the same complex which is also for sale and which is down by the road.  Might be worth looking at that as well.

Later in the day we pottered into Ballarat to look at a couple of houses that might fit Lindsey's requirements.  Somewhere in town with renovation potential.  The first house Jim and I walked in and almost immediately walked out again, so fast that the estate agent didn't even have time to get my details.

The second house had lots of people looking at it.  Jim and I looked at it quite carefully but came away thinking that it probably needed more work than Lindsey had in mind.  Pondering later, though, I wondered if we had been influenced by the fact that there were a lot of people getting in the way so that you couldn't see the potential.  Thinking back, the kitchen was larger than you might have expected and had loads of potential. There would have been the opportunity (if you were minded) to redevelop the bathroom, laundry and porch area. It had three bedrooms and a reasonable lounge and a surprisingly large backyard.  I think that if it hasn't been snapped up by an investor with money and vision, we should take Lindsey to have a look at it, but by appointment rather an at an open inspection

But even if that one has gone, there are lots of houses in that style in that sort of area available to buy.  But they will all be needing some TLC if you are looking in that price range.

Today the sun has shone and we have taken the dogs for a walk, pottered around, done a few useful things, pottered around some more.  A nice, gentle day.  Lindsey and Ian have been in Sydney for the weekend and are due back into Tullamarine at around 5:30.  I have dinner plans!


Monday, September 04, 2017

Father's Day

It was Father's Day yesterday in Australia and the family had arranged to gather at Mount Martha for a celebratory Sunday lunch.

Lindsey and I went down on Saturday afternoon, after a raid on the Ballarat Bridge Mall Farmers' Market and a visit to Bunnings for something slightly more robust to fence off the vegetable beds than bamboo canes and plastic trellis panels.  These were doing absolutely nothing to keep Rupert and Sam out of the broad beans, pea and onion beds!  Jim came with us on the morning excursion but stayed at Mount Helen to re-do the veg bed fencing while Lindsey and I headed down to Mount Martha.

Sunday saw Lindsey taking Tony to Frankston for an MRI of his brain.  I've never seen brain MRIs before.  I can't read them at all but there are some very pretty designs in the brain.  While they were doing that, Stella and I started the preparations for lunch.  Jim and Ian came down with Sam and Rupert.  Rupert was a bit surprised to find Lindsey and me in this strange new place. Most of the family came, excluding Jess who was visiting her father, Bethan who is in Thailand en route to Nepal and other places and Emily who was working.  Simon brought not only Noodle  but also Molly who was staying with him for the weekend.  Rupert was very disconcerted by the ongoing invasions but settled down reasonably quickly and really enjoyed having Noodle and Molly to play with.  He didn't enjoy having his ear bitten by a rose bush but quickly forgot about it - until we realised that his ear was bleeding profusely and stepped in with tissues and bandaids.  He didn't like that sort of attention at all!

Rupert getting to know Martha who lives across the road from Stella and Tony's place

Playing football with a lemon

Christian and Sam

Sam and Rupert in the car on the way back.
Rupert is exhausted from all the fun

Fancy pants bandaid for the hurty ear

Tea time!
Lindsey stayed down at Mount Martha for another night.  Jim, the dogs and I went back to Melbourne with Ian then Jim drove the dogs and me back to Mount Helen, leaving Ian in Melbourne .  It was a good weekend.

Today has been very blustery in Mount Helen.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are trees or branches down in some places.  Rupert and Sam have been very reluctant to go outside.  So have I, I suppose.  But I have an inside toilet at my disposal!  I must go out soon though.  We need a few bits and pieces from the shop and I have an online Japanese lesson in an hour and a half.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Nuts

So the results of my blood tests came back and suggested that I do not have an (anaphylactic) allergy to walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews.  Lindsey says that it is highly unusual for nut allergies to go away, but I certainly did have anaphylactic reactions to nuts in my 20s.  Mind you, I haven't knowingly eaten nuts for a very long time so I suppose it is possible that the allergy might have moderated in the interim.

I am not, however, launching myself into munching on almonds and cashews and other nuts.  My blood might not think I have an anaphylactic allergy but my brain does.  I have a feeling that if I start knowingly eating nuts my brain will tell my body to react.  I have decided to make sure I carry my antihistamines and my asthma puffer with me, and not read the ingredients lists on things until some time after I have eaten them.  If there is no reaction and there is a nut present then we can mark that nut as safe.

Coconut is a different matter.  I know that coconut is not a true nut.  I know that strictly speaking it is a fruit.  I am fully aware that allergists and other people who Know These Things say that coconut allergy is very rare (although I do know people who are allergic to coconut).  But the last time I ate coconut I didn't know it was in the food until I had had a couple of mouthfuls.  And I investigated because I had an almost immediate reaction.  My plan not to read ingredients lists may come unstuck here. I do need to check for coconut, and coconut is EVERYWHERE in Australia. It's a bit of a dilemma.  I may have to risk it.  Oh - or get someone else to check for coconut :-D

I have, however, spent so many years not viewing nuts as a food that I don't even notice them in the supermarket unless I want them for something specific.  And then I have to go hunting.

In other news, you may remember that the proposed sale of our house in Tupton fell through earlier in the year. Since then there have been plenty of viewers and even a couple of second viewers, but no bites.  We have been in talks with the estate agent with a view to renting the house until the housing market in the UK improves.  Then yesterday I had a message to say that the most recent viewer had put in an offer.  It's considerably less than the asking price but Jim and I decided that a bird in the hand ... and have accepted the offer, with the proviso that she has to take the house As Is.  We do need to remember, though, that the house is in England and not in Australia. The potential buyer has sold her house, but subject to contract.  The people who are buying her house could pull out at any moment, in which case our buyer would have to pull out too. Please keep your fingers and toes all crossed until all is complete.  This may make daily life difficult but I have every faith in you all :-D


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Busy

I have had a busy few days.  It's one of the little ironies I find in writing a blog; when there is much to say there is little time to say it and when there is time to write - there is not much to say!!

Anyway.  I went to work last Tuesday as normal and then on Wednesday  I went down to Mount Martha.  Stella and I took Tony to the Memory Clinic in the afternoon. It was quite an interesting experience.  They were testing for memory, cognition, logic and various other things like that.  Stella and I were in the room too and silently did the tests as well.  We all did quite well, though I would have failed dismally on the "count down from 100 by 7s". Quite why anyone would ever want to do that EVER is a mystery to me! They think that Tony may have some mild vascular cognitive impairment, probably from the two falls (of the many falls that he had over a period of a couple of months last year) that caused bleeding in the brain.  He is to have an MRI of the brain and then go back for more tests in three months time.

On Thursday Tony and I spent the morning running various errands in Mornington and Dromana and then we all went to see the oncologist in Heidelberg in the afternoon.  It's a relatively straight run down East Link and the Eastern Freeway from their place to Heidelberg and I wasn't expecting any real problems getting there or back (apart from finding somewhere to park - I ended up dropping them off outside the place and then parking in a nearby hospital carpark).  The freeway was quite busy as we headed out of town, but it was peak hour and the traffic was moving, even if slowly.  I was very surprised, however, as we got out of town to find that the traffic was almost at a standstill.  This is very unusual on East Link.  There had been an accident on the slip road from the services which had blocked a couple of lanes, hence the delay.  I was very glad that I hadn't been in the car which was being lifted up by a crane.  It was upside down and somewhat flat.  Fortunately, it wasn't a fatal accident - but I am still glad I hadn't been in that car!

I headed back to Melbourne quite early on Friday morning and went to work, and then came back to Ballarat mid afternoon.

Lindsey, Jim and I spent the weekend doing the sorts of things that Jim and I used to do in Derbyshire.  We went to farm gate shops out in the countryside and bought meat, vegetables and other provisions for the week.  We went to Eynesbury to the monthly farm, craft and food market on Sunday to have lunch and to potter around. We came back with spice mixes, pork pies, terrines and pate, balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, loads of very yummy things. Ian didn't come with us.  He spent the weekend at home doing useful things there.

We managed to dodge the various rainstorms that swirled around over the weekend.  It didn't rain at all when we were outside. Or, not over us it didn't. We could see it raining in other places




Rupert had his first bone, which he thought was a great new toy and a very delicious one at that.



Now he just has to work out how to stop the magpies eating it when he is not there - and how to stop Sam burying it, because that is what Sam thinks that bones are for!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Preserving

Over the weekend I treated myself to this:



I had the use of a preserving pan for a couple of seasons when my cousin Penny lent me hers.  Apart from that, I've never had one.  When I wanted t make jams, chutneys and other preserves, I used my heavy duty casserole pan.  This wasn't entirely successful . Because it gets used for all sorts of things, the preserves tended to stick on the bottom and burn.  When I discovered some Seville oranges at Wilson's the Greengrocer's  I bought them, and then decided to treat myself to a proper preserving pan.  It's a small one so absolutely perfect for me.  I pretty much never need to make industrial quantities of preserves.

I also bought a sugar thermometer (I already have at least one, but it's packed in a box somewhere) and a jam funnel.

And made this:




The marmalade is a bit dark. I used brown sugar instead of white or demerara, largely because I had brown sugar to hand. Also, it's a bit more set than I would usually make it.  According to the sugar thermometer the marmalade didn't ever reach setting point.  It did according to the "drop a bit on a saucer and see if it wrinkles" test. It tastes OK though.

What shall I make next?  I am thinking beetroot chutney, or grapefruit marmalade, or ... Not jam, though. Not yet.  I'll wait for the soft fruit season. And we need to start collecting empty glass jars as they come to hand.  I have established a collecting box :-D

Oh. And today is our one year anniversary of arriving in Australia with a view to staying.  It is, of course, not our anniversary of our first arrival together in Australia. We first came together in December 2005. But On This Day in 2016 we landed very, very early in Cairns and then flew on down to Melbourne and started the process of Moving In

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Birthday Celebrations

It was Freyja's birthday on Thursday.  She and Simon celebrated by going to London on a Magical Mystery tour which involved food, more food, drink, taking in a show, stumbling upon a creepy toy museum and catching up with friends.

Jim and I celebrated by going to VicRoads and converting his British driving licence into a Victorian one.  Then we headed to the Medicare office to get him a Medicare card so he can access Australian health services.  We possibly shouldn't have gone at lunchtime, when there was one Medicare officer trying to deal with several enquiries.  And I possibly should have thought to print out and fill in the application form before we went.  Still, we got there in the end and he now has both a driving licence and a Medicare card - so two forms of identification :-)

We ought to see about getting him a Tax File Number so I can send him out to work. His bridging visa allows him to work - although I think he would prefer not to.  And I don't think we can get him a Senior's card until his resident's visa is approved.  His Medicare card states that he is a visitor and you need to be a resident to get the Senior's card.  The turn around time for the resident's visa in Australia is between 18 and 24 months.  Simon and Freyja's application (for Simon), which was submitted in London, is being processed now.  Obviously far fewer people submitted applications in the last week of June in London than did in Australia!!!!

Jim and I occupied the rest of Thursday by unpacking a couple of the boxes that came over from the UK.  We repacked most things, not having anywhere to put them, nor having any use for them at the moment.  But I was glad to see some more clothes, some notebooks and pens, and a few other bits and pieces that we have left out of the boxes.  Alas, Jim's radio controlled clock doesn't work.  I looked it up and the National Measurement Institute (who would have thought that there would be such a thing!) says that the relevant radio signals don't reach us in Australia.  I could set it up as an ordinary clock but we have plenty of those and there doesn't seem much point. We'll give it to the next passing visitor from the UK where it does work.

We might unpack some more boxes over the weekend.  There are only three or four left to unpack.  It night be interesting to see what's in them. Apart from my Toast and Marmalade crockery set, which I am assuming is taking up most of the remaining boxes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Time Passes (Gallops!!)

Facebook's On This Day feature alerted me over the weekend that we had reached the one year anniversaries of leaving Tupton,  leaving Sheffield, having a family weekend in London and, today, leaving England and flying to Osaka.

One whole year.

Who'd have thought it.

In the meantime, life goes on.

Lindsey arranged a referral for me to see an allergist about my nut allergy, largely to see if there were any nuts I wasn't allergic to.  Much to my surprise the skin prick test suggested that I wasn't allergic to any nuts.  I'm not sure I absolutely trust these results, convenient and useful though it would be not to be allergic to nuts. Last time I unwittingly had coconut the reaction was almost instant and was quite strong.  So the allergist has arranged a blood test for the common nut allergies and told me to continue avoiding coconut.  It would be very much more convenient to be able to eat coconut, it must be said.  It is absolutely ubiquitous in Australia.  I think the Aussies have been duped into thinking of it as some sort of miracle food!

While I was out in Bundoora (which is where the allergist is based), I went to look at an outlet centre which I had seen on the map.  I would visit it again, if I were in Bundoora.  But I wouldn't go there from East Melbourne, nor from Ballarat.  There is a very large outlet centre down by the Yarra in the centre of Melbourne.  There is another very large outlet centre by the Essendon Airport.  There is a Rivers in the Bundoora one.  I had a good potter around in that.

The morning had been enlivened by a strange burning smell in the flat when Lindsey was getting ready to go out and I was getting ready to go to the allergist.  Eventually we narrowed it down to the dishwasher.  So we turned it off, unplugged it and I checked to make sure the smell was dissipating before I left.  Ian called in later and found that a vegetable peeler had fallen on to the element and was nearly burnt through its handle!!  No wonder there was a strange burning smell.

I have had my first solo flight on the reception desk at the surgery.  I have a had an occasional, gentle nightmare since I started covering on the desk where I have been rung up on a Saturday morning and told I have to cover the desk, with no notice and no instruction on how to open up or cope with emergencies.  Fortunately, I was given 24 hours notice and had time to run through the opening procedures before flying solo.  Even so - I walked in at 8:15 on Saturday morning and realised that I didn't know where any of the light switches were :-D  Happily it didn't take much effort to find them.

And now I must go and shower and get dressed.  I'm supposed to be going to the surgery and attempting to catch up with the scanning this morning.  Tomorrow, very excitingly, I have an appointment at St Vincent's hospital to have my hand looked at. My left hand has quite a severe contracture and is becoming more and more useless for day to day activities.  Lindsey says that I can't have a bionic hand replacement, which is a bit disappointing.  But a hand that works will do.

Rupert doing excellent sitting

A magnificent example of a Romanesco cauliflower,
picked from the garden two minutes earlier