Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Stella's Busy Weekend

It's been a busy weekend.

It started on Friday when I collected Stella and took her to Rupert and Hugo's house for cups of tea and chocolate biscuits (in honour of Austin's birthday).

Rupert and Hugo were very pleased to see her. They were also pleased to see the chocolate biscuits - although they weren't allowed to have any. They had dog chews instead.

Rupert, very pleased to see Stella.
I'm not sure Stella really wanted a Great Dane
head on her lap!

Wendy came up by train on Saturday and she, Jim and I met Lindsey and Stella at a "new" coffee shop in Buninyong. It used to be the Pig and Goose but they left and the bike shop moved from up by the fish and chip shop into the empty premises. They have added a cafe to their collection of bikes and I must say they do excellent hot chocolates and Very Good Cakes.

Lindsey and Stella went back to Mount Clear. Wendy hasn't been to Buninyong for a very long time so we did a quick tour around in the car (this did not take very long) and then we drove up Mount Buninyong to look at the view. We did not climb up the fire tower!!! Then we drove out to Lal Lal to look at the falls. We've had a bit of rain recently so Lal Lal Creek had enough water in it to feed the falls

Wendy and a waterfall

A waterfall without Wendy

Sunday was Tatsuki's birthday so Lindsey, Stella, Wendy, Jim and I celebrated with a Sunday roast at my place. Roast chicken, roast potatoes and pumpkin, vegetables and mushroom gravy, followed by apple and blackberry crumble. It was going to be apple and blueberry but blueberries were $8 a punnet. Blackberries were $2.50 so blackberries it was. Sunday morning was slightly enlivened by the power going off. Only briefly, it must be said and it wasn't at all inconvenient - until I realised that the cats' water fountain had stopped working. Nothing could persuade it to spring back to life so Wendy and I made an emergency dash to Petstock in Delacombe to buy a new one. There's only so much being stared at reproachfully by two discontented cats that I can take.

Brandy thinks this is a perfectly acceptable replacement
Whiskey does not.
The previous fountain flowed into a little reservoir which he could
lap water from. The new one does not

Matthew and family came to inspect Stella's new abode on Sunday evening and stayed at Hill House overnight. Wendy went home on the train

Sun rising behind a car covered with frosted patterns

Matthew and William called down on Monday morning for a cup of tea and to inspect Jim's tool collection. He has a lot of very nice tools that he can't use any more. I can't or won't use them. If I need something done that requires more than a hammer, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers or the garden tools, I'll get someone in to do it. I would really rather like to sort the garage out and get rid of things that won't be used, so the next time they're in Ballarat, Matthew is going to come and take anything that he wants. Then I'll drop the rest off at the Buninyong Men's Shed. I'm sure they'll find a use for them.

Matthew and family took Stella out for morning tea before they went home. She has now had her two weeks respite "taster" and will now transition to permanent care. At least, I hope she will. I often drive past or close to the Mount Clear Aged Care facility and it is very much more convenient to drop in for a chat there than it is if she is in Mount Martha, which is becoming increasingly difficult for me. It is more and more difficult to take Jim there overnight. Mount Clear is much easier.

Construction on the new housing estate continues apace. There is now one house that is almost finished. There are two that have their frames and roof joists up. And there are two plots that are being prepared for building. I think there will be 20 something houses in the end. All the activity gives Jim something to watch from both the lounge room and the bedroom windows.

Sunday, June 19, 2022


A few weeks ago, Stella had some teeth removed - to the bewilderment of practically everyone who knew about it, apart from her dentist and the dental surgeon. We all knew it would not go well. They persuaded her is was Very Necessary Indeed.

It did not go well! Her mouth bled and bled and bled and was very sore and did not get better.

Then she had her 4th Covid shot and her Flu shot and had the expected reaction to the Covid shot.

The combination of everything saw her in hospital for a day or two. Except that it wasn't a day or two. As is usual with Stella, the day or two turned into several days. We tried to get her out of hospital and into respite care but there was a long, long wait and it didn't happen. Eventually she went back home to the tender ministrations of her carers.

While all this was going on, Jim was in having respite care at the Mount Clear Aged Care facility which is not quite two years old and is very lovely indeed. Stella was bored and lonely at home - the rest of us for various reasons couldn't drop everything and head on down to Mount Martha. Stella was persuaded that going into respite in Mount Clear might be a plan, with a view to staying. The facility is a five minute drive from my place and a ten minute drive from Lindsey's. It's no further for Wendy and other Melbourne based family to get to Ballarat than it is to get to Mount Martha. No one else lives on or near the Mornington Peninsula.

So Lindsey went and picked her up on Saturday and brought her to Ballarat. I think she nearly turned around and went straight back to Mount Martha. It was wet and cold and horrible all weekend and she was cold, all weekend!

Stella frozen at Lindsey's house,
despite having a heated blanket and
a Great Dane on hand
(Lindsey's photo)

We had a seafood platter for lunch on the Monday Holiday, in honour of Tabitha's birthday, Ian's late father's birthday, the Queen's birthday and any other birthdays we may have missed

Stella at Monday Lunch at our place,
not quite so cold but she was sat
right next to our blazing wood fire
AND I had the central heating on!

On the Tuesday, I took her to the Aged Care facility to start her two week's respite. She has a lovely room, looking out over the rooftops of Mount Clear. It gets lots of sunlight (when there is any sunlight!). The only issue is that it's a bit of a hike to the dining room and the common rooms and it's too far for her to walk. She does, however, have her wheelchair and the staff take her along. They offered her a different room, much closer to the action, and with a private courtyard. But by then she had settled into her room. She likes the view and the aspect. And, as she points out, she has never been one to sit outside with her coffee or her lunch and a private courtyard would be wasted on her. So in her room she stays.

In the squishy chair that is in her room

She was a bit unsettled on the first couple of nights and most definitely had cold feet over this move but she is much more settled now. She is beginning to get to know some of the other residents and the carers. She likes the food and the people and the facility. She likes having people very close to her. I think it is all going to be good.

The weather picked up yesterday. Lindsey and I went out to Smythesdale to check out a little country market. Smythesdale is a very pretty village and has a very cute  if small market. It's a lovely drive out there. We think the market is monthly. It might well be somewhere we could take Stella and Jim, tying it in with lunch in one of the pubs. Or, indeed, we could just go out for a pub lunch. Ian would probably come too, if there was lunch on offer 😋

Smythesdale market

I wonder what the food is like in the pub.
The fish van isn't there all the time

We took Jim and Stellas out for afternoon tea and ended up by the lake, in The Boatshed, where we had delicious cakes to share and cups of tea or hot chocolate. I  haven't been in The Boatshed for years. Generally if I am heading up to the lake to eat, I go to Pipers. But Pipers closes at 3pm and we were just arriving. The Boatshed it was, and very good it was too. We will go there again, for lunch next time.

The view from our table

Jim, eating more than his fair share of the cakes!

Stella will miss her proximity to the sea
but we do have the rather lovely lake to offer

There were lots of people out and about around the lake, enjoying the winter sunshine. There were some people sailing model, remote control yachts. That looked like lots of fun.

The sun is shining again today too. Then the rain is forecast to move back in. I had better go and get some washing done. It probably won't dry outside but at least it will get a good airing.

Brandy, "chasing" the mouse on the wooden clock

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Winter and Autumn seem confused

 We're definitely having winter weather. It's cold, wet and very windy

But the trees are only now donning their autumn colours

And we saw eagles over Eilish Court yesterday afternoon. We more usually see them up at Hill House and not usually during the winter. But I will accept eagles wherever and whenever they choose to show themselves (even if they won't come close enough for a decent photo!)

Monday, June 06, 2022

Winter has arrived (and Jim has come home)

While Jim was away I took the opportunity to clear out a couple of cupboards.

I started with the wardrobe in the third bedroom, which I use as a study. I completely emptied it, sorted through everything and got rid of a lot of stuff. Nice and mostly empty:

It does now have the summer clothes hanging in it, 
but they don't take up much room.

Then I turned my attention to the pantry. I wanted to swap the top shelf and the bottom shelf around. While I was about it, I  tidied up the other two shelves. I don't usually have tinned meat and tinned veg in the pantry. They are there in case we have to isolate for any length of time while the freezers are short of ingredients. The freezers, it must be said, are definitely not short of ingredients. They are, in fact, full to bursting. But the pantry looks good. For now!

Winter greeted the start of June with enthusiasm.

First frost of winter on the first day of winter

This was as hot as it got outside on Thursday

I have ordered more sawdust "briquettes" and 
am about to order a trailer load of wood

And here comes the rain

I have had the central heating fixed. You may remember that last winter the control panel on the wall stopped working, so we couldn't use the heating. We didn't miss the central heating, using the wood fire and the space heater through the winter. I decided this year that I was paying quite a lot for the privilege of using gas, when in fact we weren't using all that much. Just a bit for cooking and hot water. So I got someone in to see if it was worth fixing. Ten minutes and $250 later I had a new wall controller and a working central heating system.

I am reminded how much I don't like the central heating system! It is nice to have instant warmth, but I really do not like having hot air blowing from the ceiling at my face. And I really, really do not like the way it gets to temperature and then blows cold air at us until the temperature falls again to a level where it decided to blow hot air again. The bloke who came to fix it tells me that it is an old and outdated system (no s**t Sherlock - it was put in when the house was built 17 years or so ago and, I think, quite cheaply at that) and I might want to think about replacing it. He was aghast when I said that I would probably look to replacing it with an electric, or solar system. He informed me very solemnly that solar panels on the roof don't work when it is cloudy and that renewable energy is a disaster waiting to happen. You'd have thought that an electrician would be pleased by the thought of people using electricity, but there you go. In the meantime, I do like the warmth that the wood fire produces, even if it takes more effort.  The Pretty Kitty Kats like it too, although they have also discovered the pleasures of lying on the blanket on our bed under the central heating vent in our bedroom:

Jim has come home from his two week respite holiday and has thrown my routine completely out of whack. (Didn't take long for me to develop a "living alone" routine :-D ) He can have up to 9 weeks a (financial) year of government subsidised respite care and I am planning to use it, sending him in every few months so he gets used to it. It won't be all that many months before he will have to go in permanently if his dementia continues as it has been going over the last year. In the meantime, his next level of home care package has come into play. His new case manager is coming to see us tomorrow to sort out what he needs and how we can organise it