Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Interfest

We had an extra public holiday on Monday for Boxing Day, which fell on a Saturday and therefore doesn't count as a holiday, apparently.

So Lindsey, Ian, Stella, Jim and I went out to Pipers at the lake for lunch. And then Lindsey, Stella and I went out to the Elaine Farmgate shop, just because. We didn't really need anything, but it's a nice drive and an accessible place for Stella to get into.

There are lots of roadworks along the road between Buninyong and Elaine. A great deal of the way is restricted to 80, with some sections restricted to 60. It's a bit tedious, especially when there is noone around doing anything. So we came back along the forest road.The road through the forest is an unmade track. I think it might be a forestry route.  I almost never go along it if I am driving Ziggy. But Lindsey's car is a robust 4W Drive which can cope with the road, if driven slowly and carefully.  It's not too bad at each end but the middle section is very seldom graded and is full of ruts and ridges and potholes and other hazards to shipping. It's a beautiful route to look at, and the advantage to having to drive slowly is that you see lots of things that you would miss if you were going faster. Such as birds and butterflies. And a big, fat echidna bindling along an embankment beside the road. (It was big as in on the large side for an echidna, not big as in the size of a wombat or an elephant!)

On Tuesday Stella had to have a blood test, so she and I went and had that done and then went out to the mushroom farm.  I did need to go there. I had long run out of mushrooms.  The advantage of taking Stella on a weekday is that all the extra people aren't there.  No coffee van, no seafood van and, above all, no local wine stall. The wine stall is usually right outside the entrance.  With it not there, I could park right outside the entrance and Stella could come in using her walker. She's never been in it and it is exactly the kind of shop she likes.

And so we come to New Year's Eve. Many people are celebrating the end of 2020 as the passing of a very difficult year.  And there is no doubting that, in many ways, it has been.  I am slightly more muted in my boisterous farewelling of 2020. There is nothing to say that 2021 isn't hiding on the sidelines, rubbing its fingers with glee, ready to unleash even more upon us.  It is even possible that the whole decade is in training for turbulence, chaos, disaster and catastrophe.

Lindsey, Stella and I decided to ignore all of that and we bundled Stella into the car and went out to the Wendouree shopping complex which is large and full of the sorts of shops that Stella likes. We had lunch in a Japanese cafe. We went to the Other Wilson's store on the other side of town. We went to Dan Murphy's. We didn't any of us buy very much but we had a good potter around. A calm, peaceful and pleasant end to the year.

In other news, Rupert is very much better. I had a wag of the tail and a Happy Dance when I went to pick up Stella on Tuesday.He is eating his food properly. He is playing with Hugo. He is playing with his toys. We think he is going to be OK.

Rupert and Hugo looking out
through their front door on Tuesday

Oh, and happy Gotcha Day to Hugo. Three years today since he arrived at Hill House as a 10 month old puppy. A good addition to the household

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Boxing Day

Wendy drove us home from the Christmas Feast. She doesn't drink alcohol so was fit to drive - and was happy to have a bed in an actual bedroom for the night.

She and I went to the Mill Market in Warrenheip. The Mill markets are enormous trash and treasure and bric a brac indoor markets. I suppose I go once or twice a year for a potter around.  I've been to the Warrenheip and Daylesford ones but not yet the one in Geelong. Wendy had never been to any of them and it seemed to be the sort of place she would like.  And she did. Although mysteriously, she didn't buy anything. Except morning tea in the cafe for her and me.

We dropped up to Hill House to inspect Rupert and to visit Stella, Lindsey and Ian. All the visitors had gone home and it was nice and quiet.

Wendy went home on the train.

It's been a good few days

Tatsuki in Gifu on his Christmas bike

Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn in Sheffield
with their (home delivered) pub Christmas lunch

Freyja engaging in her favourite Boxing Day activity,
out at the movies

Boxing Day clouds over our place



Lindsey and I headed out at around 7am on Christmas Eve. We managed Wilson's with no difficulty for the fruit and veg.  The supermarket was pleasantly empty. We headed over to Alfredton to run an errand. We hit Bunnings, which was nice and orderly. Then we headed back into town to pick up the seafood. We got there about 15 minutes after the seafood shop opened. By then the queue had snaked its way along the shopfronts, round the corner, up past the pet shop and computer shop and halfway along the supermarket wall. 

I held our place in the queue while Lindsey did a few other things that we had planned to do.

One hour and forty five minutes later we had the Christmas seafood. I have said this before but let me remind everyone.  I AM NOT DOING THIS AGAIN!!!!!  If anyone wants to order seafood to be picked up on Christmas Eve, they can pick it up themselves.  I got my seafood from the van at the mushroom farm, where there was no queue at all - and very nice it was too.

We launched Christmas by having Christmas Eve dinner at our place.  Stella, Emily and Lindsey came down from Hill House (Ian was invited but had things he needed to do). Freyja and Simon came from Melbourne and we had seafood bisque (seafood from the van, not the shop), followed by roast turkey for the meat eaters, and miso soup followed by a Smith and Deli's roast "turkey" for the non-meat eaters, accompanied by lemon potatoes and creamed vegetables.

Freyja and Simon stayed over and spent Christmas morning on the traditional Put Together The Complicated Present game, constructing a castle for the cats

It must be said that the cats aren't absolutely excited by this castle.  Marlo would have loved it.  Brandy and Whiskey aren't quite as fascinated by boxes.

I spent the afternoon making these vegan-friendly courses for the Christmas Feast:

Mango and raspberry trifle

Festive vegetable and tofu pie

Scalloped potatoes

And then everyone assembled at Hill House for the evening Feast. And a very merry evening it was. 


Tony's memorial bear with a bottle of good red wine


 Rupert enlivened the Christmas season by becoming very unwell late on Wednesday afternoon.

Ian says he was reluctant to eat breakfast, although he ate some rice at lunchtime and his dinner late in the afternoon.  He did, though, reject his after dinner treat.

He was very restless, then he went down the garden, hotly pursued by Hugo who leapt on him. I'm not sure exactly what happened but Rupert started howling.  Ian and I both ran down to find what looked like a fight, although they don't usually fight.  I'm not sure if Hugo had intended to play but had got stuck.  Whatever, his teeth were stuck to Rupert's jowl.  Ian managed to separate them and we all went back inside.  But it was obvious that Rupert was not happy.

Jim and I went home, but I was unsurprised when Ian rang to say that he was worried about Rupert.  He was shaking and drooling and whimpering. He put Rupert in the car and came down to collect me.

Rupert had the classic symptoms of bloat.  If your large chested dog shows symptoms of bloat you need to act very quickly. We were somewhat surprised to discover that in Ballarat, which vies with Bendigo to be the third largest city in Victoria, there is no out of hours emergency vet. The nearest is in Geelong, an hour's drive away. I sat up at Hill House with Stella until Lindsey came back from work, while Ian hot footed it to Geelong with Rupert.

He had successful surgery but had to stay in hospital until yesterday. He wasn't eating- which is hardly surprising when he had just had major surgery on his stomach. Also, on Christmas day lots of people and dogs were coming for the evening. It was probably better for him to be in the peace and quiet of hospital until Christmas was over.

Lindsey and Ian picked him up yesterday and brought him home.  He still wasn't eating but then was tempted by some Christmas pâté. And perhaps just a sliver of ham.  Maybe some home made sausage roll? Oh yes, a little turkey would be pleasant.  But not, definitely not the prescription tinned gloop the vet had sent home with him.  Definitely  not that!

Lindsey says he is more alert today and a bit happier. His legs are more stable. He is  a bit more interested in food. We are cautiously hopeful that he will make a full recovery.

But Christmas does not seem to be good for Great Danes.  Sam the Dane died on Christmas Eve three years ago. And yesterday one of the Danes who goes to the Great Dane meets died of bone cancer.  We won't tell them about Christmas next year.

Rupert, recuperating at home
supervised by Hugo

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Markets

As you might imagine, the big spring and Christmas markets were all cancelled this year. Many of the country farmers' and other markets are only just starting to trickle back. So no Strawberry and Cherry Spring Festival in Bacchus Marsh. The St Anne's Christmas market cancelled.  Talbot only started back on Sunday. Craft markets?  No.  Nor Trash and Treasure markets.

This did not help my Christmas shopping!  Although fortunately we are doing a Kris Kringle this year for the family Christmas Night dinner, which very fortunately can go ahead - we just creep under the 30 person maximum limit. So I only have one present to buy for Christmas Night, plus one for Jim to give.  But there are, of course, other presents that need buying. I have had to use the shops. And the Internet.

So Lindsey and I were pleased to see that the Ballarat Market people had decided to put on a Christmas Market on Friday evening.  Lindsey finished work early and we headed off to the lake to see what was happening. And it was quite a large event.  Most of the regular stall holders were there and there were lots of other stalls.  Craft stalls, Christmas stalls, plant stalls.  All sorts of things.  And food stalls.  Lots of food stalls. Lots of well patronised food stalls.  Fortunately, Lindsey and I didn't need food stalls and had a happy hour or so pottering around. 

It was a good little Christmas market.  I hope they do it again next year. I also hope that the other markets will come back.

We didn't go to Talbot on Sunday.  Lindsey went to Mount Martha and brought Stella up for the Christmas and New Year holidays.  I went into town and pottered around there.

You will, I hope, be pleased to hear that my patio has finally been laid. They came on Friday, which was wet and cold first thing but which cleared up as the morning progressed.  It's not quite what I had planned and there are three tiles which still need laying. They didn't realise I had intended them to go down and by the time I realised it hadn't been done they were packing up ready to go home. But I think we can probably sort them out later.  I have been bringing round gravel from the heap out the front to finish off the edges.  I need to bring more gravel around to finish it off.  When time permits! I have bought loads of little pots to plant herbs in. I had intended to fill the edges with soil and plant the herbs directly but the way they finished it meant that it would be difficult to do that.  No worries.  I can be adaptable. Gravel and pots will look lovely.

A work in progress, but nearly finished

I woke up this morning to this:

Hugo bashes, Rupert Woo Woo Woos,
Brandy and Whiskey simply stare.
Breakfast time!

Jim has lost a lens out of his glasses.  We have searched everywhere. Well, everywhere apart from where the lens actually is. We can't find it. We did find lots of dust, cobwebs, gunk and rubbish as we looked under and behind things that haven't been moved for two years. I found Whiskey's red ball which has been missing for ages. But no lens. I have made appointments for us to see the optometrist in January but Jim's near vision is really not good.  He can just about manage without glasses for distance vision but couldn't see his iPad properly, or even his food plate.  Lindsey suggested I get some reading glasses from the news agency or pharmacy. as an interim measure.  An excellent suggestion.

They suit him

Monday, December 14, 2020

A Green Weekend

The weather this last weekend was absolutely glorious. It was warm, but not too hot. The sun shone, but there was occasional cloud cover for shade. There was a pleasant breeze but no really strong winds. It was just lovely.

Our activities were lovely too.  Lindsey and I did our usual Saturday morning activities - Mushroom farm, Elaine Farmgate Shop.  But we also went to the Lakeside Market, which has moved to Zoo Drive, near the lake. Not that there is a zoo. I don't know if there has ever been a zoo. But there is a market twice a month, at least for the time being.

Being so close to Christmas, there were lots of extra stalls and it was a perfect morning for pottering around the market, admiring things, buying things and thoroughly enjoying the green coolth the trees offered. The lake was sparkling, the people were happy; it was a great morning.  I bought lots of seasonal fruit and have had my dehydrator going ever since. Apricots, nectarines and plums from the market plus loads of mangoes that Lindsey had acquired from a charity drive. I also froze some of the mangoes. I am planning to use the dehydrated mangoes (rehydrated) and the frozen ones for the Christmas trifle with, I hope, some fresh raspberries. There is another market before Christmas and I am hoping to get raspberries then. Also, perhaps, some cherries.

Sunday saw Jim and me driving out to Daylesford, where we were meeting at Gillie's house for the resumption of the meetings of the Sunday Lunchers.  We had had one lunch at our place at the beginning of the year, then all subsequent plans had to be abandoned as Viruses, Pandemics, Panics, Lockdowns and Restrictions made their various presences felt in the course of the year. For now, the Virus has been beaten back in Australia and restrictions across the country have been lifted. For now!  But it did mean that We Six and Flora the Dog could meet at Gillie's house for a long overdue catch up and a delicious lunch.  Gillie lives on the other side of Daylesford from Ballarat and has a verdant, productive garden.  We sat outside under the shade of her enormous walnut tree and passed a very pleasant, greenly shaded afternoon. It was positively glorious.

All in all a great weekend, with a great deal of green shade. Central Victoria is a beautiful place. We are lucky to live here.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Stella is at home

It crosses my mind that, as far as you are concerned, Stella went into hospital last week and promptly disappeared, never to be seen again.

You will be pleased to hear that she has not been lingering indefinitely in the hospital. Lindsey managed to spring her last Monday. This was rather complicated by Stella having woken up on Monday morning to find that her cannula had come out overnight. She is on a blood thinner so her blood doesn't clot well.  This is excellent when it prevents her getting blood clots in her legs or brain or heart. Less desirable when it prevents escaping blood from clotting. She said her hospital room looked like a crime scene. Blood everywhere!

Fortunately, she didn't need a blood transfusion. All of her medical specialists agreed that she should go home. The nurses were persuaded that it shouldn't take 3 or 4 hours for her to be discharged. And she was Home in Time for Tea.

And there she remains. She seems to be in good form and to be managing ok on her own, with her carers calling each day and various other people popping in and out.

Jim had his annual health assessment on Thursday. He is to see a geriatrician next year and has to have a number of tests before then. He's had his blood tests - we haven't heard from his GP so I assume they were within acceptable limits. He has a CT scan of his brain on Monday and then we wait until April for him to see the geriatrician. Apart from having put on a bit of weight this year he seems to be in quite good health. We will aim for him to have lost a bit of weight by next December when his next assessment is due.

Apart from that, things are trundling along in an unremarkable way. Always good when there is nothing particularly startling happening.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Birthday Weekend

I did get down to see what is happening on the former reserve on Saturday.  They are making quite some progress on the new housing estate

Lindsey and I went to the Bridge Mall market on Saturday and then headed out to the mushroom farm and then to the Elaine Farm shop.  It was quieter than it usually is at the mushroom farm.  I'm not sure if that was because the return of the markets is having an impact on their business, whether it was because we were later than we usually are, having been to Bridge Mall and having a potter around the city centre shops while we were there, or whether people were doing Christmassy things.  I guess we'll find out - possibly next weekend.

We started the celebrations for my birthday on Sunday lunchtime, up at Hill House.  Ian had prepared a mighty feast. Tempura to start, roasted lamb for the main and Lindsey had created mini pavlovas for dessert, using some of the fruit she had got at the market.  No real need for an evening meal.  Then yesterday, Freyja and Simon came up from Melbourne and stayed over., also at Hill House, where we were staying with Rupert and Hugo.  I must give a shout out to Shop 29, a pie shop and bakery over in Wendouree. The mushroom shop stocks their pies and we had bought a vegetable and mango curry pie for Freyja and Simon.  It was labelled as "vegetarian/vegan" and Lindsey and I weren't sure whether it was actually vegan. The people at the mushroom farm assured us it was but we were doubtful. So I messaged Shop 29 at around 7:15 yesterday morning. I was somewhat surprised to get an immediate response. It was, after all, very early. Yes the pie was vegan. It was glazed with apple.  Apple!  Had never thought to use apple as a glazing agent. Then he told me how he glazes with apple. (4 parts apple sauce, one part hot water). I was very impressed. Good customer service. 

My patio didn't happen yesterday. The forecast was for rain all day so we put it off until Friday of next week.  In the event, it wasn't all that rainy although it did rain on and off. It was definitely on the chilly side.  I can be patient.  The patio need isn't actually urgent, although I would rather like to get my herb garden underway. It will be around the edges of the patio so I can't plant it until the patio is done. But again, there is no urgency about it.  It can be planted whenever and the herbs that are growing in the planter are quite happy where they are.

We have decked the house for Christmas.  I raided the mini woodland behind our place for some sticks and made this:

I pinched the idea from my cousin Penny, who got the idea from her dad, my uncle Peter.  I am quite pleased with my effort. The dog and cat decorations came from a maker on Redbubble.  I am quite pleased with them as well.

Friday, December 04, 2020

Back at Work

On Wednesday, for the first time in months, I actually went to Reservoir to work in the surgery.

It was something of a struggle to get up and to move with purpose on Wednesday morning. It was something of a struggle to get Jim up and moving with purpose! Nevertheless I managed to leave on time, and Jim was also ready when Ian came down to collect him and take him up to Hill House.

It was good to be back on deck. It's hard to keep up with what is going on when you are never there. It was good to catch up with colleagues. I was happy to rummage around in the shops (my wallet was less happy about this!). Things were less happy when the software that powers the practice management system crashed and took the morning's work with it. Absolutely everything that had been done that morning. Sigh.  The collective memory work of the reception team did manage to identify most of the people we had made future appointments for. Not all of them, but most of them.

And then I came home again, collected Jim from Hill House and down to Tani we went.  A good day.

On a less happy note, poor Stella had a sudden and quite nasty recurrence of her leg infection and had to be taken back to hospital, where she remains. She's back on intravenous antibiotics and is desperately hoping that she will be allowed to go back home when she reverts to oral antibiotics.

I found myself unexpectedly in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens yesterday.  Someone has made some topiary animals since I was last there

Work continues on the new housing estate across from our place.  There has been a big digger there each day this week, putting in new roads. And there is a large, smouldering bonfire. I am going to sneak across over the weekend when there are no work people around, and see where is actually is and what they are smouldering. We can't see any flames, just lots and lots of smoke

Tuesday, December 01, 2020


When we moved in to Tani, two years ago, there was a grassy reserve on the other side of the pathway over our front fence.

There were lots of trees.

Then a For Sale sign went up around the various entrances to the reserve. I looked online to see what was happening and discovered that the reserve was to be subdivided into 23 housing blocks.

For a long time, nothing happened.

When we got back from our short-lived trip to the UK in March, there were lots of blokes chopping down trees on the far side of the reserve.  It was during the first set of lockdown restrictions. If you could work from home you must work from home. Essential workers only to be allowed actually to go to work.

I remember thinking that I could certainly see that you can't chop down trees while working from home, but I equally couldn't see that it was essential work.

Anyway, back in March we still had lots of trees around us.

Then the tree fellers went away and men came with bulldozers and big diggers and the chopped down trees were taken away and they dug a HUGE hole with a large slag heap mound of mud behind it.

Then nothing much happened.

And now more people have come and have chopped down more trees, and they have started to put roads in. We couldn't see any of these buildings properly when we first moved in

We do still have lots of trees around us. This is our place looking from the "reserve"

I think most of these trees are probably safe. They were on our side of the cyclone fence which stopped people going onto the reserve during the first phase of the tree felling. And the trees at the back of us also seem safe - although someone (I assume the council which owns that bit of land) has cleared most of the scrubby rubbish away

The truck has been an interesting addition over the past week or two. It and a small digger have been excavating a large hole in the back garden of the house at the end of the pathway. It's unusual for us to get much traffic noise at our place so we both noticed when the sound of a truck reversing close by started up.

Lindsey and Ian are back from Sydney now and we have returned to living at our place, and coming up to Hill House when they are both at work. Rupert and Hugo were a bit dismayed when we packed the car up and took all our stuff away. They were delighted when Lindsey and Ian came home. And pleased when we turned up again this morning.  Brandy and Whiskey were pleased when we came home yesterday and actually stayed the night. They were a bit less exuberant about it than Rupert and Hugo, though.

Flowers in the sky at Hill House

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Hill House

 Lindsey and Ian have taken advantage of the opening of the border between Victoria and New South Wales to go to Sydney so they can finally meet their grandbaby, who is 4 or 5 months old.

Jim and I have relocated to Hill House to stay with Rupert and Hugo.  Brandy and Whiskey have not. So I go down to Tani each morning and each afternoon for an hour or two each time. I feed and water the cats, play with them a bit, water the garden, check out my seedlings and generally potter around. Brandy and Whiskey don't seem to be particularly perturbed by this, though they are pleased to see me when I appear.  As you would expect.  I  proffer food!

Chris came to Ballarat to go shopping on Tuesday and popped by for a spot of lunch.  We had that at Tani - exciting to have visitors now that it is allowed. Up to 15 a day for now, rising to 30 in mid-December.  I can't imagine many occasions when I would want to have more than 30 visitors in the course of a day.  I'm not sure that 30 people would fit in our house and garden.  They would fit at Hill House, so if I were minded to have a gigantic gathering it would have to be up here. 

Jim added a certain level of excitement yesterday by deciding, against all advice to the contrary, to go out and start planting potatoes at around 17:00.  He can't find his large, potato planting dibber so was using my small, seedling planting dibber. He had planted five potatoes when his knees locked and he couldn't get up.  In fact, he couldn't move.

I went down to the potato patch to see what he was doing and why he was making strange noises. We managed to get him sitting on the ledge that separates the terraces.  I could not get him up.  This was strangely reminiscent of trying to get Stella up last week! However, Jim had not fallen, as such and I was not going to call an ambulance if it could be avoided.  The problem was that his knees were not minded to cooperate. Eventually I got the shower chair which was stable enough to give him some leverage and he was upright. But his knees were still not minded to cooperate and he couldn't walk properly. So I fished the spare walker (you may remember that Stella bought a new one last week; the old one had been left here) out of the shed and we managed to get him into the house.

I am now officially over trying to hoik people up from a sitting position who are unable to get up under their own steam. I will plant the rest of the potatoes myself, not using my small dibber but by digging a small trench and chucking them in. And hope that I remain upright and mobile. There is no one to get me up if I can't do it myself!

Apart from that, it's been a largely uneventful week. I can live without "events", people coming for lunch always excepted, of course.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Stella's Busy Few Days

We met Lindsey and Stella at Pipers for lunch on Thursday. I know we had only recently been to Pipers, but it is in a nice location, has easy wheelchair access and does nice enough food. We sat outside under cover, the weather was lovely, the lake was sparkling and we enjoyed our food.

All was well. Until Stella went to get her bank card out of her purse.  We could not find it! This was slightly alarming because I was the last person who had had it.  On Wednesday, Stella and I had gone to Sebastopol for Stella to have a blood test.  On our way back we had called at the butcher and the IGA and Stella had given me her card to pay for her purchases.  I was sure I had handed it straight back but in the purse it was not.

I went to check the car, to see if it had been left in there.  Lindsey turned out Stella's bag to see if it was in there.  No card.

We turned out the bag again, just in case it was hiding.  Stella found her card in a secret pocket that Lindsey and I hadn't noticed.  Much relief!  Excellent.  Now we can all go off to do various other things.

But wait! I no longer had my car key. I had had it, when I checked the car for the bank card. I did not have it now. Jim and I wouldn't be going anywhere very much without the car key.  There was a momentary panic until we looked in Stella's bag. Again. And there it was. It had been scooped up with everything else after Stella had found her bank card.

Excellent.  Jim and I could go home. Stella and Lindsey went to the disability aid shop and bought a new, lightweight wheelchair and a new walker.

On Friday, Freyja came up from Melbourne on the train to meet Stella, Jim and me for lunch.  We had it at Tani. After lunch I took Stella back up to Hill House.  Rupert and Hugo were pleased to see us back when we got out of the car.  Alas, Stella missed her step going up onto the porch and toppled over.  Fortunately she was not hurt (although a little bruised), but I could not get her back up again.  Rupert, particularly, was dismayed that Stella was sitting on the front porch step and not coming back into the house.  I think Stella was a bit dismayed as well!

We had to call an ambulance to get Stella back up on her feet.  I have to say I felt slightly uncomfortable calling for an ambulance when no one was actually hurt, but the ambulance service does offer a Getting People Back On Their Feet After A Fall service and they were not in the least perturbed about coming to help.  30 minutes after I had called them, Stella was back in the house.

All's well that ends well !

Lindsey has taken her home again now.  I think she is quite glad of the opportunity for a day or two of rest after her busy week up in Mount Helen. She has been lunching and shopping. She went to the Elaine Farmgate Shop and into the city centre. She came and met Brandy and Whiskey.  She had visitors (as well as Freyja, Emily also popped up to visit her). She played with Rupert and Hugo. All in all, I think she had a good week.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Brandy and Whiskey are Helpful

We will sit on the doona while you put the
clean sheet on the bed

This will prevent it from blowing away

I will check the comfort of the mattress
and the cleanliness of the
new sheet

I will check the cosiness of the doona

I think that Whiskey is feeling relaxed and at home
at Tani

Such big, beautiful eyes


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

All things are subject to change without notice

What was supposed to happen yesterday:

  • Lindsey was going to work as usual
  • Ian would be working from home
  • Stella and Frances would go for Stella's blood test in Sebastopol and then possibly go out for lunch
  • Jim might or might not go to Hill House and do some digging and might or might not also go out for lunch
What actually happened yesterday:
  • Lindsey rang at 07:00 as she was about to leave for work to check that what she thought was supposed to be happening was also what I thought was happening
  • Ian rang at 08:00 to say that Lindsey had hit a huge hole in the middle of the road near Ballan and had buckled her wheel. He was heading to Ballan in his car. Lindsey would carry on to work in his car and he and her car would come home in the company of a tow truck. Could I please go up to Hill House and look after Stella
  • Lindsey rang to say that Ian couldn't hitch a ride with the tow truck because of Covid restrictions. Could I please go to the Ballan services and pick him up, tow truck due around 9:30 or so.
  • I had a quick shower, sorted the cats out, didn't do many of the useful things I had intended to do.
  • Jim was bundled into the car in his pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers and taken up to Hill House.
  • I prepared tea, mango and custard for Stella's breakfast and coffee, bacon and egg for Jim's.
  • Leaving Rupert and Hugo in charge, I headed to Ballan, arriving around 9:30, where I found Ian together with Lindsey's Limping Vehicle. There was no sign of a tow truck.
  • Still no sign of a tow truck.
  • Still no sign of a tow truck.  I may have been mugged by a cup of coffee, a potato cake and some dim sims.
  • Still no sign of a tow truck.
  • Ian rang the rescue company. No tow truck was coming (we had already surmised this). The tow truck driver hadn't been told we needed one.
  • Tow truck arrived half an hour later. We headed back to Ballarat in Ziggy, leaving Lindsey's car to be taken to hospital in Ballarat by the tow truck.
  • I arrived back at Hill House at around 2pm and sorted out lunch. Both Jim and Stella had got dressed in my absence.
  • Ian arrived back in a hire car. Jim and I headed back to Tani.
The hole in the highway was indeed a rather large one.  By the time I got there it had sort of been repaired, in that someone had filled it with gravel and put up a sign advising of a "rough surface ahead". I am given to understand that several cars had hit it before it had been filled with gravel and had arrived at the services with buckled wheels (the services are only a couple of km beyond the hole and it was possible to limp along to them and wait for assistance in safer conditions). 

I can't say I was very impressed with Lindsey's rescue company. I had lots of other things I could have been doing yesterday morning and early afternoon other than hanging around in the Ballan Services car park. I suppose, at least, that it wasn't raining.

I am hoping that today will be slightly more orderly.


Monday, November 16, 2020


Now that the lockdown is more or less over, the ring of steel around Melbourne has been lifted, Checkpoint Charlie has gone and Manky Melbournites are able to travel into the regions, now that all that has happened, we can have Metropolitan Visitors.

This meant that Freyja and Simon could come to visit on Saturday. Which meant that I could finally, finally give Freyja her birthday present which I have been waiting to give her since August. Actually, I have been waiting to give it to her ever since I discovered its existence earlier in the year. It's a vegan edition of a Japanese cookbook which I have and enjoy cooking from. I have had to have much great patience!

While they were here they also assembled the new garden benches which have been waiting for someone to have time to give them some attention.

They met Brandy and Whiskey.

Then we all went to Pipers by the Lake, where we met Lindsey and Ian and had a spot of lunch.

Saturday was the one day during the week when no one was available either to visit Stella, still loitering in the hospital after her (successful!) angiogram, or to liberate her.  So, of course, the morning nurse went in and told her that she could go home on Saturday.  Alas, she had to wait until Sunday when Lindsey and I went down to spring her from the hospital.  We went in Lindsey's car, which is big enough to fit three adults and all of Stella' paraphernalia.

Lindsey went in to effect the discharge.  I drove on to Mount Martha to collect clothes and a few bits and pieces from Stella's house. Lindsey went in to find that Stella was not dressed, still had her picc line in, did not have her medication ready and had not been discharged by a doctor.

I waited in Mount Martha while all these things eventually happened. Almost three hours after Lindsey had arrived at the hospital we were finally able to put her in the car and to take her away.

And now she is at Rupert and Hugo's house, who were delighted if a little surprised when she turned up. They do love Stella.

Jim and I took advantage of a pleasant late afternoon on Saturday to launch our new patio furniture. Now we are waiting for the patio layer to come next week to relay it and to finish it, then I will put an edging garden bed in - and perhaps even buy another garden bench, always assuming I can persuade Freyja and Simon to come back and assemble it!

Sunny Saturday afternoon in our backyard

Jim enjoying the new outside furniture

Patio, newly furnished but waiting to be finished

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lockdown gone

And just like that - Checkpoint Charlie disappeared.  There is no real evidence that it was ever there. The checkpoint itself has vanished. Most of the signs that warned of a Police Checkpoint ahead have gone and the ones that remain now exhort travellers to Stay Safe and Stay Open.

The corollary of the restrictions being relaxed is, of course, that the traffic, noticeable by its quietness over the past months, has now returned. I had got used to quiet roads during the second lockdown and was a bit surprised to be diverted by my sat nav from the approach to the Westgate Bridge on Tuesday, then sent over the Bolte Bridge and along the Tullamarine freeway. This is not a particularly unusual route if you are passing through Melbourne at peak times but I haven't had to do it at all this year. Or not that I can remember.

Still, traffic is a small price to pay for Melbourne being released from solitary confinement. It means that Freyja and Simon can come to visit and I can finally give Freyja her birthday present which has been waiting at Tani since August.

I am not sure why, but we seem to have attracted the attention of fledgling currawongs. Brandy spends quite a lot of time sitting on the dining room window sill and watching the garden. He was paying particular attention the other day so I went to see what he was watching. And it was the attempts by a young currawong to escape from our garden. It could fly, but not quite high enough to get over the fence. Eventually it hopped up onto the table, then onto the back of a chair and then launched itself at the closest part of the fence and just, just, just managed to get over the top.

On Tuesday evening I heard some odd noises coming from outside the back of the house.  I went to investigate and found another young currawong behind the plastic cold frame, trying to get out.  I liberated it and it ran away.  But it is still in the backyard.  It is not quite old enough to fly properly. I figure it's safer in the backyard than it would be on the reserve; it might get taken by a larger bird but it won't be eaten by a fox. There is plenty of water for it and lots of insects, worms and other things for it to eat.  I am hopeful that it will soon develop more strength in its wings and fly away. I do not really need a permanently resident young currawong!

But two in such quick succession is noteworthy.  I assume there is a nest nearby that they can fall into our garden from. Although its parents don't seem to be looking for it.  The adult currawongs that have been around have paid no attention to it at all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A Sunday Afternoon Stroll

If you walk down our cul de sac you reach the main road between Ballarat and Geelong.  Across that road there are the Ballarat Technology Park, some state government and other buildings and the Federation University, all set in parkland and a forest.  There is a road running through the bottom part of the parkland called Wetlands Drive which runs along a small lake. There is also a bird watching hide. Sometimes, as I drive along, there is a bloke sitting on a fishing chair by the side of the lake.  But he isn't fishing - his labrador is swimming in the lake. There is a little footbridge, but I had no idea where it led to.

In the more than four years that we have lived in the Mount Helen area, I have never walked around that bit of the forest / parkland.

It was a beautiful day on Sunday. There was nothing much happening on Sunday afternoon. Jim, Brandy and Whiskey were dozing on the couch in front of the television. So I swapped my sandals for some closed shoes in case of snake-y encounters and trundled off down our road to have a bit of a poke around.

It wasn't a long walk, just over half an hour, and I discovered another small lake plus a creek bed with not much water in it.  We haven't had much rain recently so the wetlands were on the dry side. I suspect the creek can carry quite a bit of water when the rains come and the wetlands earn their name.

I hadn't realised that this little lake was here

The track only runs half way round it

We drive past this quite often.
It's on one of our regular routes to
Hill House

You can walk all the way around this lake

Baby ducks, a clear sign of late spring

Canadian Creek, not flowing
fast at the moment

University Roundabout
We briefly lived in one of the units
you can see opposite, before we moved
into our current house

I did my library degree at the University
when it was the Ballarat College
of Advanced Education.
The houses across the road weren't there then!

Standing at the bottom of our road,
looking towards the Krooze In Cafe

Heading home.
Ours is the last of the units you can see,
tucked under the trees

I'm off to visit Stella in the hospital today. We are hopeful that she will be able to go home on Thursday, although she will actually come to Hill House for a few days to recuperate.  Someone has suggested that she have an angiogram before she comes home, much to everyone's alarm. The last time she had one of those she bled vigorously into her groin and no one noticed until she had the most enormous bruise all over her body. She had to  stay in hospital for a further ten or so days, lying flat on her back. The time before that she ended up in ICU.  Angiograms really do not seem like A Plan.

We have now had ten consecutive days of no new Covid cases in Victoria and there are only 4 known active cases in the state. The ring of steel quarantining Metropolitan Melbourne from the rest of Victoria has come down. All Victorians can now travel around the state at will. I do not expect to be stopped at Checkpoint Charlie on my way home. I don't expect to be stopped for questioning about my movements at all.