Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, February 28, 2023


It was Tony's birthday on Sunday. He would have been 92. Lindsey, Ian and Stella went to the Boatshed to mark the occasion.

Not sure who took this - Lindsey or Ian

I went to Geelong. Sunday lunch at Irene's place, with Gillie, Chris and John. We started in the garden, where we intended to spend the afternoon. Alas, just as we finished our first course, it started to rain. We moved inside!

This time I managed to get photos of the humans who were there, but not of Flora the Dog who was mostly outside chasing, I mean guarding, the chickens.

Before the rain:

And after we had moved inside:

Irene had made a MASSIVE lasagne
I think she'll be eating the leftovers
for weeks!

It was a good afternoon, rain notwithstanding. And Flora did eventually give up on the chickens and come in to play.

Irene is not the only one who might be eating leftovers for days and days. On Thursday I bought a Mystery Box at Wilson's, of seconds and close to expiry vegetables and fruit. It cost me $7 and I think I more than got that back in the two pomegranates and half cauliflower that I found inside it. There was a lot of other stuff as well. So I deployed the slow cooker and put most of the vegetables in it, together with some chicken thighs that were also being sold cheaply because they were at their use by date. 

There was no way I was going to eat all of that while it was still edible, so several boxes of it have gone into the freezer. This required the skills of a Tetris Grand Slam Champion. I have closed down the freezer in the garage and didn't want to turn it back on just for some boxes of chicken and vegetable stew.

The rest of the stuff I used in a Magnificent Salad. Obviously that can't go in the freezer. I'm just going to have to eat salad at great speed. Salad with everything. Apart from last night when I ate the chicken stew that wouldn't fit in the freezer, with a Yorkshire Pudding that I made because I felt like it. I did have salad for lunch, though.

Today, if all goes according to plan, marks settlement on Stella's villa in Mount Martha. I think she is in two minds about this. It marks the end of that chapter in her life and, while the next chapter started last June, it does mean that there is now no going back. 

Not that she was going back. The house has been empty of furniture since October so wouldn't be particularly cosy. And where she is now they bring her regular cups of tea and pieces of cake; her clothes are washed and ironed; her meals are cooked for her and the dishes done; her bed is made and the room cleaned and tidied; people come and go throughout the day. None of that would be happening in her villa in Mount Martha.

Edible flowers from my mystery box.
Not being eaten.
Being decorative on my dining table 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

A letter from Services Australia

Finally, finally, finally, Jim has had a letter from Services Australia telling him that his financial contribution for his aged care facility has been re-assessed.  How much you pay is means tested. Everyone pays a set daily fee, which is 80% of the basic aged pension, then how much extra you pay depends on how much you and your partner (if you have one) earn and own.

They can't use our house as part of the assessment because I live in it and they can't intentionally render me homeless. But they can take both of our incomes into account, including overseas income. You may remember the bill they sent me for over AUD 27000, because, they said, I hadn't filled in the financial assessment form (I had) so they were going to charge us the full monthly fee, backdated to July. Since then I have had ongoing telephone conversations with them, filled in innumerable forms, had multiple conversations with the finance people at the care home and generally had very stressful time trying to sort it all out without rendering us bankrupt (the full monthly fee is considerably more than Jim and I jointly earn in a month).

Anyway. Yesterday he got a letter saying that the re-assessment means that he only needs to pay the set daily fee and no further contribution. This is a considerable relief! I am, possibly optimistically, hopeful that there will be no more demands with menaces for enormous amounts of money.

I have been "renovating" the kitchen. I can't afford to put in a whole new kitchen, and probably couldn't justify it anyway. The kitchen is not well planned, but it is functional, more or less. But the cupboards are irritating, and the kitchen bench was designed such that the bit that overlapped into the dining room was largely wasted space. I have never used it as a breakfast bar, and only used it as a serving space when we had lunch or dinner guests. Otherwise it was dead space that I couldn't properly reach when I was in the kitchen.

So I have put shelving there:

Next, I will organise the cupboards so they are a bit less irritating. Eventually. When I get a round tuit.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Weather, a Birthday and a Pub Lunch

We've had some lovely summer weather recently, although Friday was forecast to be extremely hot, with strong gusty winds and a fire rating of extreme. I'm told that it got to 41 or 42 in Melbourne but in Mount Helen it got to around 36 or perhaps 37 with gentle breezes and very low humidity. I was mostly up at Rupert and Hugo's place and kept an eye out for fires and had the emergency app open, but all was well and really it was just a lovely summer day.

On Saturday, the day started like this:

Looking down the driveway, through fog,
not smoke

and ended like this:

Looking up, in the backyard

I wish I had a camera which could capture the light in the backyard. After a hot day, as the sun moves towards the west, the trees cast a beautiful green shade which feels cool, even when it is not.

Jim is settling well into his new room. Often, when I go to visit him, his room is empty and he is in the TV room, or the tea room or walking around. He seems to like his new neighbours, who are relatively quiet and don't make free with his room or his possessions. He pretty much always has his lunch in the dining room and even, sometimes, his dinner.

Saturday was Hugo's 6th birthday. He is beginning to approach a venerable age, for a Great Dane. He and Rupert celebrated with goodies from a Pup's Birthday Bag that Lindsey bought. I bought some dog-friendly rocky road at our local IGA, and some short dated meats from the deli section (which they sell as pet meat). Lindsey bought new squeaky toys. Hugo (and Rupert) thought it was all a bit good

Stella and I went to the Golden Point pub for lunch yesterday. Next time, we must remember to order from the seniors' menu. My chicken parma was enormous and Stella's stir fry with noodles and prawns looked like a small mountain. Rupert and Hugo enjoyed the leftovers, which we took to their place in a doggy bag - actually for doggies 😂

Alcohol free sparkling wine
Stella and I had a glass each

My ridiculously large chicken parma

Stella enjoying a trip out

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Jim's New Room (and other things)

I had a phone call from Jim's care facility on Wednesday asking if I would consider him moving from within the dementia unit to a room in the main section. I was a bit puzzled by this but agreed to discuss it with them on Thursday. In the meantime I discussed it with Lindsey (who was in favour, more or less) and with Stella (who lives in the main area of the same facility and was a bit worried about the idea).

On Thursday, Lindsey and I met the person who had rung me. She showed us a lovely room, much larger than his current room, which they were proposing to put him in. It was along a little, dead end corridor with residents who were not inclined to wander into other people's rooms and wander off with things. It's in the same section as Stella's room, although not immediately adjacent. It also meant he would be able to join in some of the weekly activities, if he is minded. They do have activities in the dementia unit but not as many, and Jim wasn't very interested in them.

I agreed to try the move, which happened on Friday afternoon. I met Jim, the nurse and a couple of carers in Jim's original room and we trundled around with all his possessions to his new room and got him settled in. He and I went and got Stella and brought her around to look at the new room. It all seemed satisfactory, at least for a start. Once he is settled, I'll try taking him to some off the activities and see if he likes them.

Visiting Jim's new room:

As I said, it's much bigger than his previous room so there's room for more furnishings and stuff. I'm also going to see about getting some picture hooks put up so I can put some photos in his room.

Stella reported that Jim had gone for lunch in the dining room on Saturday. He almost never went to the dining area in the dementia unit. As far as I am aware, he has been going for lunch but not, I think, dinner in the dining room. I must look into him going for dinner as well.

I've taken in one of the fold out chairs that we used before I bought the couches for the lounge room, and I've ordered another set of shelves for his room. I might go to the second hand bookshop in Buninyong and see if they've got any car, garden and building books for him to look at.

He wasn't in his room when I called in yesterday. His door was wide open but he and his walker were nowhere to be seen. I found him in the dining room. He had, apparently, been wandering around exploring, had found the large, communal fruit bowl and picked up an apple. He seems to be quite comfortable! And someone has trimmed his beard.

Trimmed beard, sliced apple and
a cup of apple juice in his
new room

Lindsey and I had a busy day on Sunday. I drove her old car to the flat, she drove her new car to the flat. We met in Ballan for fuel and a breakfast sandwich. Then from the flat we went in Lindsey's car to Mount Martha where we met Stella's neighbour Jenny and joined her for lunch at The Dava. We inspected Stella's villa which has now been completely refurbished and is looking very good. We left the keys to the unit with Jenny to deliver to the office. The villa has been sold and settlement is at the end of the month so that will have been our last visit to the villa, if all goes to plan. Lindsey and I called into Tully's before heading home. Jenny had asked if we didn't have something similar in Ballarat and yes, we do. But it's not quite as interesting as Tully's and since we were in the area ... Then we came home. We will see Jenny at least one more time. We still have a couple of things in her garage which we will need the trailer for.

I put the fold out chair by my front door on Sunday evening, so I wouldn't forget to take it in to Jim's room.

Ooooo, said Whiskey.
A new chair.
How exciting!

No, no, said Brandy.
I think you'll find that's my chair.
And he pushed him off!

Brandy is much smaller and lighter than Whiskey.
That does not mean he is disadvantaged 
 when it comes to getting his way!

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

More Lunching

Lindsey and I were working on Saturday morning. It was much, much busier than it had been the last time I worked on a Saturday morning when, you may remember, it was extremely quiet.

We had our usual number of patients and phone calls. Pathology, however, was very busy. There was a new pathology person. She didn't closed her queue until around 15 minutes before closing time.

We were still there, waiting for her to finish, an hour after closing time!

In fact, I didn't mind that. I did, however, mind the faffing around that ensued after she finally got rid of her last client. I couldn't leave until she did (locking the door, you know; putting on the alarm; that sort of thing). Lindsey gallantly waited for me, though she could have gone. Not home, because we were travelling in the same car. But definitely to the cafe where we were meeting Freyja and Simon for lunch. It was only a little way down the road.

I may have got a bit tetchy when pathology still hadn't finished at 13:20!

Finally the pathology lady finished and left. Lindsey and I finally managed to get to the Indonesian cafe where Freyja and Simon were waiting for us. We had delicious food for lunch. (Barramundi in a not too spicy sauce for me - I didn't eat the fresh chillis that adorned my food). Then we went back to their place for a loo stop and a play with Ghost. And then we went home.

Yesterday I had a long overdue visit with my optometrist in East Ivanhoe. I thought my vision had changed a bit but, in fact, it hasn't much. I don't need new reading glasses. I only need new varifocals because the lenses of the old pair are scratched and speckled and I can't see through them. My retinas, optic nerves and eye pressure haven't changed at all. All is well. No sign of macular degeneration (mother) or glaucoma (father) or cataracts - although the optometrist wants me to make an appointment to have my peripheral vision checked. Not because she is worried but because she hasn't ever done it and wants it done as a future benchmark. I had budgeted for two new pairs of glasses but only needed one, so pushed the boat out for more expensive but rather nice frames for the varifocals,  and then took myself to Fairfield to visit Oasis, a Lebanese grocery store and cafe.

I might have had chicken shawarma with tabouli for lunch. I didn't buy any groceries, because I didn't really need anything. I did, however, buy a couple of rather nice salad bowls. And then I went home.

On Sunday, I had actually had to make my own lunch!!!!!!! A bread roll with cheese, tomato and cucumber and a cup of tea. I have to say that it was very nice, if a little less exciting that Japanese Bento, Indonesian fish and Lebanese chicken.

The weather is still strangely cool for February, although it has been warming up as the afternoons progress. There is a positive carpet of leaves from the eucalypts over the side fence, lying in an abandoned manner all over the patio and the grass patch out the back. I might have to sweep and rake - and maybe even go wild and cut the grass again. And I must turn my attention to the front garden. The grass there definitely needs cutting, the long dead broad beans need pulling out and the green bin has been emptied so I can carry on dismantling the shrub by the front fence, and start cutting down the agapanthus that runs rampant down the driveway. I can think of lots of things to do with that garden space that would be more productive or prettier on the eye than agapanthus, red hot pokers and various odd grasses. This may all take me quite a bit of time. I'm restricted by the size of my green bin, which only gets emptied fortnightly.

Friday, February 03, 2023

Birthday Fun

It was Stella's birthday yesterday. She turned 89. She is almost reaching a Good Old Age 😂

We went out to the Stockland Shopping Centre in Wendouree and had lunch in a Japanese cafe.

Birthday Girl having a Bento lunch

Come to that, we each had a Bento lunch!
(Photo by the friendly cafe host)

Then we went for a wander around the shops. There are clothes shops aplenty, but none had anything that Stella particularly fancied. So we went into town and visited Kathmandu and Black Pepper. They had things that Stella fancied. Reduced price things in Kathmandu (no one who has more sense than money would ever buy full priced things in Kathmandu!). A nice padded jacket and a fleecy waistcoat for the winter. And in Black Pepper, a short sleeved shirt and matching trousers just in case the summer ever makes a re-appearance.

We went to Wilsons for veggie and fruit supplies. And then we took the Birthday Girl home for a well deserved rest.

She and I went out again today. We went to visit her GP, who was very pleased with her and said she was doing very well and obviously thriving in the aged care facility. Then Stella and I had another lunch out. Bacon, eggs and mushroom on toast in Maggie and Kates, a little coffee and brunch shop in Buninyong. We more or less managed to dodge the showers that swept through in the course of the day.

Speaking of weather, we had 10 ml of rain late yesterday afternoon, in about that many minutes. It flattened some of my little bushes out the front

I may need to get in and prune them. They didn't get done last autumn, but also didn't get squashed!

Someone needs to tell the Weather Dogs that, although we are grateful that the temperature isn't over 40d, it would be nice if the outside temperature was a tiny bit more than 7d, and the inside temperature would be even nicer if it was a little more than 16d. 

This should not be necessary in FEBRUARY!!

Anyone would think that it was April or May

We could also do without the icy rain, but that isn't bothering me now I am inside and the fire is lit.