Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


So now both Jim and Stella have tested positive for covid. 

I can't talk to Jim directly all that often. He managed to disable his phone again and I have decommissioned it. He had more or less stopped using it anyway and it didn't seem worth getting it fixed just for him to disable it again. I can organise to speak to him on the nurses' phone, which I do once or twice a week. Briefly, it must be said. But the nurses tell me that he isn't too bad. He is as vaccinated as it is possible to be, plus they got him onto antiviral medication very quickly and they say he seems cheerful enough.

I can speak to Stella directly. She has her phone with her and uses it. She says she isn't feeling all that well, but is not feeling as though she has a particularly dreadful illness. She says she feels tired, not hungry and under the weather, but not absolutely awful. She too is fully vaccinated and has just started on the antiviral medication. So fingers crossed for both of them. Although Stella is unimpressed that she has obediently stayed in her room since they were locked down and still the virus managed to sneak its way in!

I have observed before that one of the significant advantages of owning rather than renting a place is that you do not get six monthly visits from estate agents wanting to check on the state of your home. This is also a significant disadvantage.  There is no regular incentive to deep clean and tidy up. I have recently discovered that this is also true of visits from district nurses and carers. On the days that they were expected I would run the vacuum cleaner round, sweep the dining room and kitchen floors and tidy things up. Now that they don't come anymore, I don't think about the floors until I look at them closely and realise just how many crumbs there are and how much cat hair is on the carpet. Tidying isn't such a bother - I tend not to have too much stuff lying about, unless it is in a room that I am clearing out. (Don't venture into the study at the moment!!)

Mind you - I accidentally swept under my bed at Hill House this morning. I used a broom to fish out a slipper which was lurking out of reach under the bed and swept out a surprising number of other things and a startling amount of dust, debris and Great Dane hair. Then, of course, I had to properly sweep under the bed which meant I also had to do the rest of the bedroom floor. Perhaps I should organise some sort of inspection of that room every six months or so! I now have three pairs of slippers (when I started this enterprise I had three slippers; I wasn't expecting to get another three). Bizarrely, I now have three thongs/flipflops. I have no idea at all where the fourth one is. I had completely forgotten there was supposed to be another pair. 

I suppose now I should look under my bed at home and see what's under that. Or might that be a Bad Plan?

Hugo was behaving very oddly when I got up here on Sunday afternoon. He was standing in the hallway, refusing to come into the lounge room. Then he went outside and flatly refused to come back in again. He would not come in through the laundry door. I rang Lindsey, who was on her way to a birthday party in Melbourne. She said he had been doing that during the morning and she had enticed him into the lounge room with a packet of cheezels. I had already tried chicken and cheese but hadn't though of cheezels. Even with cheezels, he would not come in through the laundry door. I managed to get him in through the outside door up in the visitors' wing. Then more cheezels to get him into the lounge room. Plus, of course, Rupert expected to get his fair share of cheezels, if Hugo was having them.

I don't know what had spooked Hugo so much. He was behaving in very much the way that he did when he and Rupert were puppies and Rupert had done something so egregiously awful that Hugo was expecting them both to be yelled at. But no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't see any evidence of extremely bad behaviour. I wonder if something had fallen on him, or near him. He doesn't like it when things fall on him or near him and there are lots of things in the laundry and by the laundry door which might have spooked him. He's back to his old self now. Tail wagging, playing with squeaky toys, delighted by the discovery of long forgotten squeaky toys hiding under my bed. His appetite had not been affected, which suggested that he was spooked and not sick.

There are no more cheezels at Rupert and Hugo's house. Just cheese twisties. I suspect they would also do as an enticement.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Uh oh!

The care facility has been invaded by Covid!!!

They had a Covid outbreak last January. I had Jim booked in for a few days so I could go to Marlo but they were locked down so he couldn't go in and I couldn't go to Marlo. I went in May instead. Since then they've had the odd case here and there, among residents and staff, but have managed to keep it all under control.

On Thursday, Stella mentioned that they had a couple of cases in  the facility . On Friday it was 4. By yesterday it was 27,  among both residents and staff. Once again the facility is locked down. They can't come out and we can't go in. Bugger!

Stella is unimpressed but at least understands what is happening and why locking down and keeping the residents in their rooms is a plan. Also, she has a phone and so has access to the outside world. Poor Jim has no phone (he broke his last one and in any case has increasingly found it hard to use) and I don't know if he remembers that he was supposed to be coming out for lunch yesterday. But the facility does have a process where they can organise phone calls for residents so I'll organise that. 

I have things to take in for both of them (shelves and pictures and stuff) but there's no real hurry for that. Next week will do, or whenever they let us back in. But I did find myself with three pieces of salmon yesterday and only me to eat them. I couldn't put them in the freezer - I had only just defrosted them. Fortunately I hadn't opened the tin of mushy peas I was going to give Stella and Jim. They both lerv mushy peas. I am definitely not a fan. The mushy peas have gone back in the pantry. I also hadn't peeled any potatoes for the roasties I was going to make and I hadn't sorted out the rest of the veg. I was going to do all that when I had brought Stella and Jim to the house. Potatoes and vegetables are patiently waiting for me to get around to using them during the week.

I had salmon with noodles and teriyaki vegetables yesterday. I had salmon for breakfast today (you wouldn't think it odd if I said I had smoked salmon on toast for breakfast so I can't see why I shouldn't have fresh salmon if I am minded). And Rupert and Hugo dogfully volunteered to eat the third piece. With some toast, please.

It's not just Mount Clear. Covid is running rampant through Aged Care facilities around Australia. Fortunately, most residents are fully vaccinated and the staff have to be. Come to that, visitors have to be vaccinated as well, in Victoria and NSW. Not sure about the other states. They PCR tested everyone on Saturday. I am hopeful that now they have noticed the virus they may halt its progress.

Saturday, July 16, 2022


I took Jim into the residential aged care facility in Mount Clear on Thursday. His dementia has become noticeably worse recently and his behaviour has become somewhat erratic. Not violent, but confused, particularly first thing in the morning. He would get up and start rushing about because he had to catch the bus to work, or go to the football (by bus!) in Southampton, or go somewhere else by bus. I'm not sure why the buses. He hasn't ever been a regular commuter by bus. 

I was beginning to feel as though I was living in a TS Eliot poem. Not a specific poem - just the sense of wandering about in the rain wearing a grey coat and popping into greasy spoon cafes and drinking poorly made tea. And catching buses (do they catch buses in TS Eliot's world?) It was quite hard persuading him that running out into the early morning light, in the drizzly rain and cold was not a good plan. ("Oh dear; you've missed the football - they've just blown the final whistle" "Going to work? But it's Sunday. You don't work on Sundays") I was also beginning to worry about leaving him at home alone when I went out, and I have to go out sometimes.

He was going to go in for another fortnight's respite but I decided that it would be better if he just went in as a permanent resident, for continuity and consistency. He can come home or go out for lunch or afternoon tea or whatever when (my) time and the weather permit. With Stella, who is in the same facility but not in the memory unit. There is nothing wrong with Stella's memory.

He was asleep when I called in on Friday and wasn't much inclined to chat when I woke him up. He was more alert this afternoon and seemed cheery enough. I am up at Rupert and Hugo's place  this weekend, while Lindsey and Ian are away. I am planning to bring both Jim and Stella up here tomorrow for lunch. Getting them both here without the assistance of another able-bodied responsible adult may be a challenge, but we'll give it a go.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Mount Martha

This weekend might have been the last time Stella was in Mount Martha. I think it likely that Lindsey and I will be there again, possibly also Matthew. There is a LOT of sorting, tidying and organising of the house to be done before it can go on the market. There is stuff absolutely everywhere!

We did our best over the weekend. Lindsey took Stella down on Saturday and they stayed overnight. Jim and I went on Sunday morning, as did Matthew. Freyja and Simon joined us at the Dava for what might have been our last Sunday lunch there. We all went back to the house and filled our cars with things that Stella wants in her room in Mount Clear, things that we want (or don't particularly want but were prevailed upon to take!) and papers that need sorting out.

This didn't seem to make much of a dint in the Stuff! I found a bundle of receipts kept by my father and all clipped together, from supermarket shops, Dava lunches, various other things, dating back years and years. I'm not sure why he had this obsession with keeping receipts for absolutely everything. When he died I found the itemised lists of supermarket deliveries dating back years. I threw them away, just as yesterday I threw away the bundle of faded receipts. It is possible that I err the opposite way - I almost never keep receipts unless I need them for proof of warranty on very expensive items. I don't buy very many hugely expensive items! And I can't remember many, or indeed any, occasions when I have wished that I had kept a receipt.

Anyway. There is a great deal of clearing, organising and furniture moving to be done. I must keep up the "death cleaning" of our place, and particularly the study. Tony's study was always immaculate until he got sick. Since then, and especially since he died, it has become more and more dishevelled and in recent times has become something of a dumping ground. I would not want my study to induce the same level of heart sinking after my death or incapacity.

I think we are going to need a large skip at some point. Or two. Or more.

Sunday lunch at the Dava:

I was there too!

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A significant advantage of having Stella a mere 5 minute drive away in Mount Clear is that, when I ring her on a Sunday morning and tell her that I am making a chicken and vegetable stew with roasties for lunch and would she like to join us - she can. I went and picked her up. We had a lovely lunch. I took her back. Almost no effort at all

Things have been trundling along much as usual. Lindsey and I have been to the markets on Saturdays and then out to the mushroom farm. There weren't as many stalls yesterday at Zoo Drive, although there were a lot of people there. Not bad, considering it had been foggy and misty and drizzly in the morning. We didn't really need anything much but it was nice to have a potter around outside.

I am hoping for a few dry days this coming week. I really need to get back out into the back garden and get the new garden beds sorted out. I did get into the front veg beds in between showers yesterday and pull most of the grass out. The peas and broad beans are growing happily. I could do to put wire up so they don't get blown over as they grow. I've mad a start on chopping back one of the bushes along the side fence along the driveway. I need to finish that one, tackle the other two (on of which is REALLY overgrown) and sort out the horrible agapanthus which are attempting to take over the whole known universe. One day, in the far, far future, when I have a bit of spare cash, I'm going to get someone with a Machine to dig them out. But I have other things to do first. I want to get the gas stove removed. I would like to get a new front door. I wouldn't mind some more solar lights in the hallway and lounge room. The list of things I would quite like to do is quite long.

Lindsey has taken Stella back to her place in Mount Martha this weekend, so she can decide which things she would like to take with her to Mount Clear and say goodbye to her neighbours. We will head down in an hour or so and join them and various other people for (a probably final) lunch in the Dava. a 2.5 hour drive, rather than a 5 minute drive! But I should perhaps get dressed first. They might look at me strangely if I go in my pyjamas and dressing gown!

I was quite please with this milestone on Drops:

A(nother) winter sunrise:

Brandy, plotting mischief:

Whiskey, sleeping at the wheel: