Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Sunday, April 30, 2023


I had a call from the finance people at the care home on Thursday. The care home is going to new owners on Monday and the finance people were tying up loose ends. It seems the nearly $30,000 they had said we owed back in September or October still hadn't been sorted out by Services Australia.

Sigh! I had thought that had been sorted out. I had had two letters saying that the daily fee would be the minimum payment and not including any extra payments. But apparently, when the finance person had rung them, they said that Jim's finances "had not been disclosed".


I rang them, and went through the same dance. 

We asked for X and you didn't send it. 

Yes, yes I did. 

No you didn't. 

Yes, I did. I spoke to P on December 22nd and she said everything was there and you were waiting for a code from a different department.

Oh yes. But we haven't got it. Oh look! Yes we have. It's been put on your record and not his.


She says it will be be organised. At least she gave me a reference code this time.

I had a phone call from Stella's pharmacist on Friday to say that her drug chart had expired and he couldn't get hold of her doctor to get it updated. Really? Who have you been calling? Dr A from Tristar? But that isn't her doctor. Her doctor is Dr G from Buninyong. You know this. We've had multiple conversations about this.

Yes, but the Care Home has Dr A down as her doctor.

Sigh! I thought that had been sorted out. Sigh!

The pharmacist said he would call the Buninyong Medical Centre and I haven't heard back so I assume it's all ok. But I will call in on Monday to double check. And talk (again!) to the nurses at the Care Home.

I'm surprised by all this, though. Not only did I think it was sorted out, but Tristar doesn't exist anymore and I believe that Dr A has left town.

I had an email from Jim's Civil Service pension company in the UK thanking me for my question and telling me it had been sent to the Pensions Query department for consideration. I really thought this had been sorted out. They wouldn't accept my (Australian) Power of Attorney to act on Jim's behalf because, not English doncha know. So I got Jim to sign the "I'm not  dead yet" form himself and had it witnessed by the Lifestyle Coordinator at the home. I can't imagine what the issue is now but I expect I'll find out.

I am getting very tired of all this. Not one of these issues should have been complicated or difficult. I am considering running away. But where too?

In better news, I qualified for the State for the electricity subsidy, which arrived in my bank account this week. And the solar panels have arrived ready for installation tomorrow.  

Freyja has gone to a food weekend in an isolated farmhouse in the depths of the Wombat State Forest. I drove her there from the Ballarat station. It was a lovely drive through part of the forest that I had never been into. I'm assuming it wasn't a Mass Murder plot, because she has been sending photos of the food they've been making. Act least, I assume it was she who has been sending them from her phone 😉 I'm picking her up this morning and we are going into Daylesford for lunch.

Perhaps I won't run away after all.

Oh - and I have finally, finally, finally filled in my application for Australian Citizenship. I started it as soon as I qualified for citizenship, ran up agains a hurdle and stopped. I got the paperwork I needed very soon after I realised I needed it but didn't go back to the online form. Freyja has been nagging me to get it done and yesterday I griddled my lions and reopened it. It seems it was almost 18 months since I last looked at it! And it was oh so close to finished. So now I have finished it. I need a certified passport photo, an identification form and a British police certificate. The police certificate may prove difficult - their website is currently offline following a cyber attack. I'm sure it will come back again. At some point! I would sigh about that but really it's my fault for having left the form for 18 months before finishing it

It was Rupert's birthday on Thursday.
It's quite exhausting being six!

Monday, April 24, 2023


Lindsey and I were working on Saturday morning.We do this every four weeks or so, so not particularly noteworthy.

Except that the medical management system wasn't working!

This is not ideal.

Lindsey managed to find a doctor's room where the system was accessible. None of the computers at the reception desk wanted to play.

Fortunately, the late afternoon receptionist prints out the diary for the following day, just in case of such problems, so I at least knew who was supposed to be coming and when. But I couldn't make appointments for the following week, or check up on things or do any of the many things that patients expect the receptionists to do for them. 

Fortunately, people were patient and understanding, so it wasn't disastrously unpleasant. I had quite a good morning. And the management system came back later on in the morning.

Lindsey and I celebrated by going to the large supermarket in Essendon Fields that Ian had taken us to on our return from Japan. La Manna. A bit like Tully's on steroids, or perhaps Costco on a mega dose of valium. Lots of fun! We have added it to our list of places to go when we are in the area. Freyja and Emily both tell us that there is a smaller version in Coburg/Brunswick. Might check that out one day too.

The Handygirl came on Thursday to assemble my new cabinet. It was a troublesome construction. It really didn't want to align properly. Fortunately, the Handygirl persisted and it now looks rather lovely

It was her last day before heading off for overseas adventures
Glad my cabinet gave her something proper to work on 😃

I am thinking of taking the top off the dresser and putting the base in the space between the two cabinets

I can't do this on my own;
it's too bulky and heavy for me to do it
without assistance

It might make an acceptable sideboard, although I think it might be a bit too bulky to fit in aesthetically. Still, might as well give it a whirl. If I really don't like it, then I can put it on Facebook Marketplace or on the Ballarat Buy Nothing group and see what happens. 

(The company that I bought the cabinets from also has  sideboards, made up largely of mismatched drawers, and composed of multicoloured off cuts. I think they look lovely, but I have a feeling if I buy one of them and invite the Handygirls to come and assemble it for me - I might be black banned for ever!!!)

We went and visited Stella and Jim yesterday afternoon. Jim has largely recovered from the fall he had last Sunday evening, which gave him a huge graze on his forehead and a mighty black eye. We couldn't find his walker, though. So while he ate cake and drank non-alcoholic beer, and Lindsey kept him company, I went hunting for it. I eventually found it in a rather lovely, little sitting room tucked away in a far corner of the residence. I had no idea this little corner existed. Somewhere else for me to look for him when I come to visit and he is nowhere to be found.

Stella is doing well. We tried to sort out her new watch so she can see the watch face and also so she can hear it when she asks it to tell her the time. I'll go in today and check if it's still working.

It's a beautiful morning today. I might even get chance to get out into the garden and do some useful things before I go to visit Stella and Jim, and then head up to Rupert and Hugo's place later this afternoon

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Lunching, and Spending Money

Stella had an appointment with her GP on Friday. She is in pretty good health, after her bout of covid, although she has recently acquired a cough and has also gained a sore shoulder.

I'm sure that has nothing to do with her having recently decided (been persuaded by one of her carers :-D) to join the morning half hour exercise class!

Her appointment was at 11:30. I needed to go to Kmart in Delacombe to pick up a doona cover. Stella decided to come with me and we combined the visit to Kmart with lunch in one of the cafes.

The Groove Train has closed down so we went to another of the cafes. It was fairly busy, which we thought might augur well. Alas, lunch was slightly on the disappointing side. Stella's crispy chicken with coleslaw was not crispy, was very salty, and although there were coleslaw vegetables, they were buried under a Pacific Ocean's worth of mayonnaise. My lamb shoulder salad did have plenty of salad, but the lamb was chewy and the dish was too salty and the dressing was strangely sweet. Neither of us ate much of our lunches - although the iced chocolates were quite nice.

I don't think we'll go there again. 

I was tidying up in the study on Saturday and found a brochure for a food and wine trail in the Moorabool Valley, which is between here and Geelong. The brochure pre-dated covid so I figured it would be out of date. So I sat down and looked at each of the entries to see if they were still operating and if they did food. I found 6 or 7 which look good to try for Sunday lunches, plus I checked on a few pubs that also look worth trying. As we say, if we don't like it, we don't ever have to go there again . As we won't for Friday's venue.

We did go out for lunch on Sunday. Lindsey, Jim, Stella and I went to the Golden Point pub, where we all had Seniors' portions. No left overs for a doggy bag! 

In other news, I have had my application for a state government subsidy for solar panels approved. No date has been set yet for their installation but at least it is now in train. I have also arranged to have my elderly gas hot water service replaced by an electric heat pump system. I was eligible for some commonwealth and state funding for that too. It should be coming in a month, perhaps two. And then I will have the gas to the house disconnected. My most recent bill was $88 for two months, of which $80 was for service charges. I am not happy about paying such a lot for service charges when I use so very little gas. Pretty much all I use it for now is for hot water. I haven't used the gas stove (which I must look into having removed) since I bought my portable induction hobs. I don't use the gas central heating. And I understand that in May or June there will be subsidies for people to have split system reverse cycle air conditioning installed. It's on my list of things to do and if the government wishes to help pay for it, who am I to complain?

While I have been splashing money around, I have also bought a second cabinet, to match the one I bought a year or so ago for the side wall of the dining room. Someone is coming on Thursday to assemble it for me. Once that happens, I am going to get rid of the dresser along the back wall. If you want it, let me know (free to a good home, pick up only). Otherwise, I'll offer it on Facebook.

Cats on the Cat Tree

Brandy Cat on the guest bed

Whiskey Cat on my bed

Tuesday, April 11, 2023


We had a very pleasant, if quiet Easter weekend.

Lindsey and I went to the Ballarat Market on Saturday morning, managing to dodge the rain. It was busier than I expected, given the rain, the cool temperature and the school holidays meaning that some people and stall holders were  away. We called into Kmart on the way past and then went out to the Elaine Farmgate Shop to get some lamb for Sunday lunch. We visited Stella and Jim in the afternoon - and that was the day done!

On  Easter Sunday I collected both Jim and Stella and we went to Lindsey and Ian's place for lunch. Rupert and Hugo were very pleased to see us. I had bought some dog donuts for them at the Elaine Farmgate Shop, which might have had something to do with their pleasure. Although they were also very pleased to see Stella and Jim. We had slow roasted lamb with lots and lots of roast potatoes. Very delicious.

Stella has a new great granddaughter and wanted to buy her a teddy of some sort. Lindsey and I had seen some lovely highland cows at the Elaine shop when we were there on Saturday, so I took Stella out there yesterday. A highland cow for the baby and an alpaca for her big sister. We came back through Mount Doran and Mount Egerton, just because we could. We drove along some roads that I don't remember having driven before and it was a lovely drive. I was a tiny bit surprised, though, to come up over a hill and round a corner, no buildings or other signs of life in sight, to find a tow truck and a police car, lights on. I was already going quite slowly, so no cause for alarm. Also, no people in view. I looked down a slope and saw several people and a vehicle. I don't know what had happened but it wouldn't be absolutely surprising if the car had missed the corner and trundled down the slope. I was driving slowly because the roads were wet, the corners were blind and I don't know the road. If I had been going at the speed limit (100 km/h) I might easily have found it difficult to stay on the road.

We didn't stop. There was nothing we could do to help, so we continued on our way, admiring the view and watching the road.

Stella had been to the morning exercise class, and then out for a fun drive in the countryside, plus she had bought a highland cow and an alpaca. We had assumed that the Monday book club wouldn't be happening because of the public holiday. It turns out that it was on, but Stella decided she was too tired to go. It had been not just a busy day, but a busy two days. Time for a cup of tea, a biscuit and a nice sit down.

The Easter weekend was cool and damp. The sun is shining this morning. I am hoping the weather will hold so I can get out into the gardens. There is a great deal to be done and so little time to do it!

Saturday, April 08, 2023

Back to Normal. Sort of!

Our luggage turned up at my place at 8:00 on Monday morning. I was very impressed.

We visited Stella and Jim in the afternoon. Stella was very pleased with the warrior bear we bought her at the Sekigahara Battle Museum. She has called him Sampson the Samurai. Jim was pleased with his present too. I had bought chocolate biscuits and chocolate covered baseball bat cakes for him which he happily ate. (Not all of them; there are still some in my pantry. But he would have eaten all of them had I taken them. Hugo the Lifestyle Coordinator gave him a large chocolate Easter bunny on Thursday. I got to his room about 10 minutes later and the rabbit had been demolished and Jim was more or less in a chocolate coma 😂)

Lindsey went back to work on Tuesday.

Life returned more or less to normal - apart from the Easter weekend happening at the end of the week.

The Mushroom Farm Shop has reopened after a long break for refurbishment. Lindsey and I went to visit yesterday. Most shops are closed on Good Friday but smaller ones can open if they choose. So the mushroom farm shop was open. So was our local IGA. Not that I needed anything. I went out to the mushroom farm to see what they had done with their refurb, and to the IGA simply because Lindsey stopped there on our way back from the farm shop.

Lindsey and I visited Stella and Jim again yesterday afternoon. Jim was in the tea room for the Friday Happy Hour, where they were supping drinks of their choice, eating cakes and biscuits and singing (to YMCA, as we walked in!) We have all noticed that since Jim moved from the dementia unit into the main area he has become much more involved in things. He eats in the dining room. He goes to Happy Hour on Fridays, and to morning tea. I quite often have to go hunting for him when I go to visit. He seems happy there. 

The weather has turned cold and wet for the Easter weekend. It did not take Brandy and Whiskey long to notice that I had lit the fire!

Monday, April 03, 2023

A Bit of a Palaver Getting Home

The day started out quite well.

Lindsey and I got ourselves organised to return home. We had a last Food Hall lunch with Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki. Austin and Kaori returned the hire car.

Then Austin took us to the nearest Shinkansen station so we could make our way back to the airport. 

The dilemma with using the ticket machines in Japanese stations is that they don't accept most foreign bank cards. The queue in the ticket office was quite long. Fortunately, Lindsey had some cash and a nice station worker came to help us buy tickets to the airport, meaning that we wouldn't need to buy extra tickets in Shin Osaka.

We weren't on the super-fast, express Shinkansen. They don't stop at the station we were at. We caught a semi-express and had a good journey to Shin Osaka, where we needed to change trains for the airport.

Alas. Lindsey put her Shinkansen ticket into the ticket gate. But instead of putting the primary ticket in, she put her airport ticket in and the machine swallowed it up. She had to buy another ticket to the airport! Which took for ever, for some strange reason.

No worries, though. We still caught the train out to the airport with a bit of time to spare. We checked in for our flight with no issues. It took no time at all to get through security and immigration. We had plenty of time for a sandwich and a drink, then boarded our flight and took off, bang on time, for Cairns.

Where we arrived 5 or 10 minutes ahead of time - and at exactly the same time as a flight from Tokyo. So few international flights in and out of the Cairns airport. You would think they might stagger them a bit. And they have four, that's FOUR, ePassport readers to cope with what was a vast crowd of people. Four! And then one of them broke down so there were - yes, THREE. It took for ages to get through immigration. (They did fix the broken e-reader so it went back to four, but really, if they want to be a grown up international airport they need more than four passport readers.)

Even then, we would have had more than enough time to get to the domestic terminal. Except that the luggage from the Osaka flight stubbornly refused to come through. There were some bags stuck on the chute, although I'm not sure if they were from our flight. The ground staff in the luggage area were telling the people who maintain the chute and the luggage carousel that there was problem. The background people insisted that it was because the luggage was stuck on the side. It wasn't. Even I could see that it wasn't.

The luggage from the Tokyo flight was collected and the passengers made a long, long queue for the customs inspection.

Finally, the background boys decided that there might possibly actually be a problem with the luggage chute for the Osaka flight and transferred most, but not all of the bags to the same carousel as the Tokyo flight. They had mostly gone anyway.

Eventually, we got our bags, cleared customs (there are some advantages to being older women: the customs officer thanked us for having our paperwork ready, looked at it and waved us through), and legged it as fast as my legs would go to the domestic terminal, where we arrived about 5 minutes after checkin for the flight to Melbourne had closed.

We approached the service desk and explained our dilemma. They were obviously expecting us (and perhaps a dozen other people) and said they could let us board but not our luggage, which would be sent down later in the day and delivered to our homes tomorrow (which is now today). We thanked them profusely, took our boarding passes, made our way through security and then to the boarding gate. (Yes, we will walk with purpose. No, we won't run. Yes, running in an airport terminal is dangerous. Anyway - I am much too old to take up running now.)

We made the flight and were. very pleased to discover that we had, as part of our ticket bundle, a $15 meal voucher. We knew about the one on the international flight but not about the one for the flight to Melbourne. A ham and cheese toastie and an orange juice went down very well indeed.

We made it to Melbourne in good time, perhaps 20 minutes later than scheduled because they had held the flight for the passengers from Osaka. Ian met us and brought us home, via an enormous, independent supermarket in Essendon which provided me with supplies for most of this week. I must got there again, when next I am in the Essendon area. It would be worth a proper investigation.

Were my Pretty Kitty Kats pleased to see me? I think they were. They have been well looked after while I have been away (thank you to all the house sitters and cat feeders) and they haven't had much chance to be lonely. But they greeted me when I came in, not especially effusively, but in a quietly pleased sort of a way. And then Brandy followed me EVERYWHERE for an hour or so and Whiskey watched me from his bed. They did tell me that they hadn't been fed, no not once, since I had left. But I don't believe them.

The luggage has made its way to Melbourne and is now on a truck on its way to Ballarat. The sun is shining. It looks like a nice morning. Back to the normal routines after a fabulous two weeks in Japan. Thank you to Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki for their hospitality.  I do hope it won't be another three years before I get back!!!!!

Dawn, this morning, from my
front porch in Mount Helen

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Don Quijote

As we have driven around Gifu over many visits, we drive, from time to time, past a penguin up on a pole, wearing a Santa hat. The locals call him The Donkey.

This puzzled me. Clearly not a donkey. A penguin!

Eventually, Austin explained that he was the mascot of Don Quijote. The Japanese are fond of abbreviating things (quite unlike Australians :-D ) so call him the Don Qui. Donkey.

Cool. I thought no more about it. Not even what Don Quijote might be. I think I vaguely assumed it was a gambling or gaming emporium

As we were driving around early on in this trip, I asked where the penguin was, in relation to where we happened to be. Austin told me and then said we would have to go for a visit. Lindsey and I said that we had never been and it wasn't an issue. I just wondered where it was.

Yesterday, Austin said we had to go. So we did. And it turns out it is a chain of discount department stores. So much fun. My kind of shopping. I could ignore the clothes bit and potter round in the sections with Bright and Shiny things. Although - I might have bought a light jumper. We couldn't buy much - we have plenty of weight in our suitcases but not much space, even having left all the chocolate in Austin and Kaori's snack cupboard. But I will go to Don Quijote stores again.

We went to a sushi place for dinner. That was fun too:

Lindsey's sushi platter

Kaori's tempura prawns

Our food was delivered by racing car

and by Shinkansen

You order using an iPad type thing

We ended up with LOTS of empty, little plates

Lindsey's Easter Bunny cake dessert

And now we have reached our last day. We are heading home on this evening's flight from Osaka back to Cairns. But first, one last lunch in a shopping mall before taking the train back to Osaka.

Looking down Austin and Kaori's street
at sunset