Posts Tagged ‘Helvi’

Chores and knitting.

November 16, 2019

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Now on my own there is a need to get from dawn to dusk as painlessly as possible. The days have to pass, and grief impedes on the passing of time as nothing else will. It bites and fights at every moment that one passes on reflection. How else can it be? It has to be so in surviving, and carrying on with this life that was so much more glorious in the past than it is now. It will get back to some glory, I am sure. Helvi would want that.

One of the best form of passing time is the domestic area of ‘keeping things in order’. This includes the washing up. I always did the washing up, so no stranger to detergents and swishing my hands in warm water. I have a dish washer and both my daughter and Helvi kept urging me to start using it again. As a gesture of obedience and compliance I did give the dishwasher another go for a few days not long ago. Without saying anything to both of them, I stopped doing it. I prefer doing it by hand. Is satisfies. I now am forever scanning the sink to see if anything needs washing up and will almost out of a need to be busy create dirty dishes in order to wash up. It might seem a bit strange but, before you know it another hour has passed and the next chore might present itself.

I have done a lot of chores that many believe are traditionally done by women. However, I don’t think we were much given to traditions, or when it came to doing chores believing they were male or female oriented. However, she knew something might happen, so over the last few months she taught me the delights of using the washing machine.  It wasn’t complicated and hanging the washing was also a job I gradually mastered. Again, we have a cloth-dryer, but with generous Australian sun, why waste electricity? ( generated by burning fossil fuel).

I am egged on by trying to remain busy by the sweet memory of Helvi, not one to waste time. She was rarely bored. She used to knit little sleeves for wrapping around the coat hangers so, her and my clothes would be suspended by a woollen sleeve around the cloth hanger. She was a wonderful example of always using time to best use.

So, please chores. Keep me busy.

The Iris has come

October 8, 2019

Sorry for my shortcomings in returning to your responses in my latest article or indeed to some of yours. I have been too busy with personal duties and issues of health and my dear Helvi. Her arm became re-infected again which resulted in her hospitalisation for yet another 5 nights. We are now home and hopefully things will improve, it has been a hard slog. Hospitals are not good places to recover and if there are any benefits I have yet to learn about them.

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In the meantime let me cheer you up with this lovely iris.

I promise to get back to answering some of your marvellous pieces and responses but can only do so when getting some rest and Helvi getting better. I can do with some bowling or walks along our little river. We are both so exhausted and in dire need of better times ahead.

The Magnificent and Defiant Helvi.

July 10, 2019

Gerard & Helvi B&W

Helvi and Gerard at earlier times

So sorry for not having written about Helvi’s plight a bit earlier. No one would want to go through this ever. Helvi doesn’t want me to be negative but I am straining at the leash not to. Whatever have we done? She broke two arms falling over a raised driveway that should never have been approved by the local Shire/Council.  This all happened 0n the 26th of June which now seems years ago. Helvi was discharged last Friday after spending 9 nights at the local State Government Hospital. The service and care was done by caring staff who are doing their utmost to do the impossible. Too many patients and never enough staff. The room where Helvi stayed was full of add-on in the way of pipes, plumbing, air condition outlets for condensation, a hand basin on brackets sticking out, a gurgling waste system and buttons on the end of a lead that kept falling on the floor. But somehow the system kept miraculously kept on working. Helvi was on ‘full-care’ but it was not full, so I stayed with her from 7.30 am to 9pm when the hospital locked doors. I fed her and pushed the button for her toilet care and if that wasn’t forthcoming I would somehow cradle her and walk her to the nearest toilet.

Enfin; it is now past history but a new phase of misery started to arrive. After three nights and days at our home I noticed her left arm was oozing a smelly substance on her bedding which alarmed me, and Helvi to a lesser extend. I wasn’t so sanguine about her positivity that all would be OK. After all, she argued, it was all pinned together and bandaged by an orthopaedic surgeon with qualified staff. I took Helvi back to the ward where she was discharged from. However, ‘no go’, they told us. ‘You have to go back to casualty or emergency and get it fixed from there. We walked back to casualty, not an easy thing to do with two arms broken. There we were told the waiting time was 2/3 hours. So, decided to go to local doctor. The doctor confirmed the elbow was infected and prescribed ant-biotics but also told us he would not touch the oozing mess around her taped and bandaged elbow. This was now starting to look like something out of a Kafka’n nightmare.

I did not want to let this go for another night so back to the hospital casualty ward and put up with the queue. We sat there between 5.30 pm and at 8.45 pm when a kind nurse took us in and unpacked poor Helvi’s arm, cleaned it up, retaped and bandaged it up and promised she would send the swab to pathology for identification of the infection.

So, you can see what a time Helvi has had. Yet…she keeps on smiling but is furious with Australia. and its broken down public health systems. ‘It would not have happened in Finland,’ she said. I dare say, ‘neither in Holland’. A system whereby tax is given back to lure voters in a system that will perpetuate the cracking up of public welfare will only continue and get worse.

We are now employing a cleaner for three hours a week so that Helvi and I can get some kind of routine going for her needs to be met day and night. We are both knackered but at least I can use my hands. I am sure I have more time to help Helvi than those overworked, underpaid nurses at the local Hospital.

But…never again.

Moleskins, Aged care and Alzheimer.

September 25, 2018

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It had to happen. A small tear in my moleskin trousers rapidly spread into a big one. From below the knee up to my thighs. This pair of moleskins lasted for more than twenty years. Helvi remembers buying them from the RM Williams store in Bowral in 1995. It was the year before we moved to the farm. The Australian RM Williams moleskins are the quintessential for farmwear. They are snake proof, even shark-proof. I never heard a shark taking someone wearing those moleskins. They are warm in winter and once worn- in, very comfortable during summer. The moleskin, like their boots, are not cheap but they last. I am still wearing the boots. I did send them away to their factory in Adelaide to get the bottom part renewed.

I promptly bought another identical pair of moleskins yesterday. Helvi said; ‘they will see you out!’ It wasn’t an unreasonable assumption! I combined the buying of the moleskins with an appointment with the audiologist and a thorough hearing test. I have become deaf. The latest movie we saw ‘The ladies in Black’ was beyond my hearing and most of it had to be guessed with the missing bits filled in by Helvi. Within my indoor-bowling groups I am not following conversation anymore. I am not too bothered by that with most of conversation by talk of football and Roosters. When they laugh so do I. I thought Rooster was a male chicken and as I was feeding the chickens next door tried to join in and enter the talk. It turned out a Rooster is a football club. I told the audiologist I don’t mind spending big money if it eases the situation when with Helvi. It is a bummer for her to keep repeating herself.  She doesn’t deserve that. As you can see, ageing has its problems.

We watched the second episode of the ABC’s ‘Aged- Care’.  One reason for feeling a bit sombre today. Dear, oh dear!  More bashings of the elderly and frail, all caught on cameras. It turns out that installing cameras in aged care facilities is a legal minefield.  The main problem is lack of qualified staff and understaffing. Even so, where is the empathy and understanding by our health minister who seemed to want to make light of it. Is this why we also don’t really mind the keeping in detention of over a hundred children, now in its fifth year on Nauru? We have a PM who is religious, yet he was the architect of detention of children with his ‘stop the boats’ policy.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-25/secret-surveillance-cameras-in-grandmas-nursing-home-legal/10298834

And finally a news item on Alzheimer whereby it is suggested that the plaque on braincells is a result of Alzheimer but not necessarily the cause. They are looking for volunteers to take part in trials. I was glad to read that testosterone and oestrogen boosting  fish oil might well be preventing Alzheimer. I always thought that eating herrings, sardines and anchovies was the way forward. I might well take a tin of sardines to the cinema next time.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-25/alzheimers-disease-research-questions-plaque-as-cause-of-disease/10299514

I am so happy with my new moleskins!

 

 

A Place of Repose

April 14, 2018

From Wiki.

“Repose is a formal or literary term used to mean the act of resting, or the state of being at rest. Repose is also a state of mind: freedom from worry. As a verb, repose means to rest or relax, or to rest on something for support: There he was, reposing on the front porch.”

IMG_0039a place to repose

In the renewed effort to reclaim a more balanced and benign view of the present world there could hardly be a better place to achieve it than shown above. The cushion that our Jack Russell ‘Milo’ is resting on is the reversed soft cotton side. The other side is deemed by him too rough. It is actually a piece of worn Afghan rug made into a large cushion cover we bought somewhere on our travels up North near Brisbane some years ago. You can see how low we have sunk to cater for his every whim. Sometimes I feel Milo is the owner and we mere yeomen, just renting, cap in hand!

The reason for the need of a place to repose is that the bleached bones of some of my past were getting to poke out of storm’s dust, causing anxiety to well up far too frequently and making me feel the fate as unnecessary fickle and punishing. We all know the black-dog’s friendship with darker moods. It is thought and I agree, that the search of man’s obsession for everlasting happiness is futile, unnecessary and might also be very boring. However, the opposite of accepting a pervasive gloom is not really all that popular either. So, what about a bit of each?  Could that be the answer?

Medicine is often prescribed as an answer to shadowy moods, but apart from an aspirin and thyroxine I have never taken any mood changing stimulants, excluding the sharing of coffee in morning and Shiraz at the evening. The capriciousness of fate is hopefully teaching me in accepting the past what can’t be changed. We might as well accept. You would have thought that a man in his late seventies could have come to that insight a bit earlier, but…better late than never. I might just be a late learner and having migrated at fifteen did something.

From now on I will take up residence for a couple of hours each day in the chair where I took the photo from, just behind Milo on his claimed cushion and ‘repose’. The beauty of those few square metres is sublime. Helvi made this Nirvana and paradise. It is just perfect, especially after about four pm when the sun is starting to take a rest and slowly goes down making a mood for respite of heavy thoughts perfect for a change into something lighter and positive. Is it in the opposites, the Wu Wei of life that there might be an answer?

What do you think and looking at Milo, does he give an answer?

 

 

Family news-flash.

February 2, 2018
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Japanese Windflower

Well, as they say, ‘there is never a dull moment.’ There isn’t a nook or cranny that we are now not familiar with in regard to our local hospitals. How a fortuitous choice we took some eight years ago in the decision to live almost next door to not one but two hospitals. It’s a toeing and froing not just of ambulances but also care-flight helicopters whirring over our roof-top picking or delivering patients that are in a hurry to receive life saving procedures. What a prime position! At our age one needs to be within metres of caring nurses and doctors. Better than water views. We are also blessed with two hospital cafes. So both, the alcohol laced hand sanitisers and the lattes are never far away.

Going back to ‘never a dull moment’, Helvi came home from her operation two days ago. The lumps and nodes that were cancerous, removed by the surgeon. We are now waiting for the community nurse to exchange the plastic bag into which her lymphatic fluid is being directed to flow in.  Compared with her chemo therapy, the breast operation was a pic-nic. Yesterday we joined the community care organisation and met two of their staff who will now take care of Helvi’s post operation recovery.

Helvi doesn’t really like any attention to herself and her plight, so I have been somewhat reluctant to write about something which she feels is unimportant in the general scheme of things. She is more interested and concerned in issues of others.

Even so, she is happy how many people have shown they care and is grateful for the attention and well-wishing she received and is still receiving. It is amazing. The dedication and sheer hard work of hospital staff admirable.  Helvi is thanking all the blog followers and friends and will keep you informed.

This journey is ongoing.

Hugs, Helvi and Gerard

 

 

An unexpected journey.

January 12, 2018

 

photoflooded riverThe Oosterman Treats has been a bit quiet lately. Let me try explain why. My wife Helvi  was diagnosed with breast cancer some three months ago. Perhaps I should use the more gender neutral word of ‘partner.’ Apparently the gender police want reference to male or female lessened or at least only allow it used for pass-port applications. The same-sex ideology seems to get a bit over-excited.

Anyway, breast cancer struck way out of nowhere. Who would think that having reached the age of late seventies it could still happen? The annual letter to have free mammograms stopped after seventy. The funding apparently is tight and limited.  Helvi never wanted to make a fuss over herself and wasn’t all that keen for me to write and use it in my blog. She is just that kind of girl, always concerning herself about others and isn’t keen to talk about herself or sicknesses anyway.

The subsequent chemotherapy thrice spread at three weekly intervals left her immunity very low with the ever opportunistic infections promptly taking advantage and giving her pneumonia. On Christmas day with a kilo of raw prawns, a leg of lamb and the pavlova ripening in the fridge, I took Helvi to the local Bowral Hospital just a hundred metres from here. She was so weak and could hardly stand up. I get choked thinking about how she was.

Helvi was taken to ‘High Dependent Unit’ and stayed there for five night before going to a recovery ward for another six nights. One night I was asked to spend a night with her and a special roll out bed was provided. She was so sick and agitated. Helvi has lost 15 kilos during the chemotherapy period.

The good news is that the chemo has worked with the experts very pleased. The chemo has now been delayed giving Helvi the chance to get her appetite and reasonable health back again. Within the next couple of weeks Helvi will be operated to have either a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The journey is ongoing.

Her care in Hospital was fantastic and the dedication of nurses inspiring. Nothing was too much and to consider the shortage of staff and the hard work they perform I am amazed the system still seems to work so well. I so wished they would get paid accordingly. I noticed some of the most vital equipment seemed in need of repair or modernising. The sink had been taken out of her ward because it was needed more urgently elsewhere leaving the taps open for patients to get water running over the floor. Someone then taped them up to avoid flooding.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-12/nsw-set-for-major-shortage-of-nurses-and-midwives/9321464

So, that is the story at this stage.

A mere bagatelle is that my Visa Credit card had been compromised to the tune of $1100.- I never use credit or any bank cards but have it to get dividends paid in and for automatic payments such as Toll charges and subscriptions. I suspect that my renewal for Norton Anti Virus was used by some scammer to fleece my account. Strange transactions in US dollars in Hong Kong and Cayman islands turned up. My Visa card was stopped and the fraudulent transaction credited to my account. With all that what was going on with my dearest Helvi, I could have done without that.

Please, wish Helvi well.

This journey of Violets continues with shy Clivias.

October 16, 2017

IMG_1163Violets etc

Creating secret areas in a small garden is very possible. Just allow growing things to go their own way. We rarely take plants out, instead provide freedom for whatever might want to grow.  The background of the bay trees against the paling fence at the back of our garden is being utilised to provide shelter and shade to many plants, especially many Clivias that are now flowering so generously.

The bay trees have just finished flowering and we continue to sweep up the debris. It is odd, but I can’t remember actually using the plethora of bay leaves in any of our cooking nor putting them in my sock drawer. Heaven knows my socks can do with bay-leaves.

In my mother’s cooking, bay leaves were often the main course, or at least I seem to still recall the taste and smell of them, especially in her roasts. She might well have over-used bay leaves in her cooking. It’s odd how even smells from decades ago, one can still recall. I don’t think bay leaves were used to ward of moths in the wardrobes of my childhood. I think she used those white moth balls.  I discovered rummaging through those mothball laden wardrobes a secret hoard of coins in a wooden box. The coins were all in separate divisions with the names of my brothers all neatly written on them.

My dad did not like eating shoulder of sheep/lamb and it could well be that the excess use of the bay leaves were cunningly used to hide my mother’s ploy to dish up sheep disguised as roast beef. My mother was very thrifty and sheep was cheaper. In any case, rummaging through those wardrobes and finding the coins I used to pilfer my brothers’ hoard of coins  to occasionally buy an ice-cream. Oh, how they tasted so wonderful and without guilt. The benefits of a still uncorrupted childhood.

Kalanchoe

Here is a rather haughty Kalanchoe. It had to be elevated so it is perched on top of the Mexican Chimeney in which we sometimes light a fire during a chilly winter’s afternoon. Isn’t it beautiful?

Both the light ceramic blue and white pot in the first picture and the dish below the Kalanchoe are from the same before mentioned pottery friend. The little white flowering bush on the left side is a Hebe.

Using Global Positioning System to the Doctor.

April 10, 2017

Almost There

The arrival of the driverless car can’t come quick enough. There are far too many drivers on the road that should never be allowed near any car, let alone inside a car.  I don’t actually like most other drivers. There can be no greater joy than driving past a car parked along the highway with a flashing police car stationed behind it. The police car has special investigation equipment to know the history of the car and its driver.  The driver in the car just has to wait in the knowledge the policeman will soon come out of their car and present a fine, or worse. The best of those cases are when the driver is asked to get out of the car and told he or she is not allowed to continue driving because of a lost license, levels of inebriation, methamphetamine use, unroadworthiness of the vehicle or heaven knows what else.

This happened to us many years ago when living in Holland. I was a hippy had a perm done, smoked bongs. Helvi did tie-dying and wore long skirts. Both of us listened to Carly Simon and were ardent admirer’s of the late Trotsky without knowing much about it. We converted a Kombi van in which we took trips to Paris. It eventually needed new tyres but were suitably lax in buying them in time. The police in Holland are sharp and  pulled me over. They inspected the tyres and without further ado slashed one of them with a special knife. We bought four new tyres very promptly.

The Pro-Office remind calendar told us that last Saturday a yearly appointment with a specialist  doctor was due in Liverpool. I felt confident enough to take the journey without plugging in our Tomtom GPS. We had done the trip several times before.

Liverpool is one of those chaotic cities that are so common in Australia. Residential homes, factories, commercial unidentifiable building all thrown about as if by a demented architect out on revenge. In between many vacant overgrown with weeds are allotments littered by abandoned trolley or empty baby prams. The inevitable yawning car yard appears in between all the chaos. The words ‘special’ or ‘closing down’ are strewn about like confetti at a drunken Russian wedding with the groom sprawled out on top of a plate of borscht. The Norwegian Edvart Munch’s The Scream pops up as well.

This visual assault is something we struggle with whenever or wherever we travel by car. The soothing voice of the GPS commentator a much needed anchor to keep me grounded within borders of acceptable sanity. It soothes me; ” turn right after 400 metres.” Or, “take the next second exit after the round-a-bout.” It is so becalming and reassuring.

However, as noted I had not put on the GPS. In a moment of inattention I had forgotten to take a turn to the left. A disastrous mistake. On Toll-ways, a mistake can have dire consequences. Helvi remained silent. She knows my limited boundaries in the area of remaining calm and collected. There were no signs of left turns anywhere. A buzzer in my car went off indication a toll charge had been collected. We finally managed to get off this Toll way and soon found the road to Liverpool again. Helvi took me to task and bluntly told me not to go anywhere without plugging in the Tomtom. “Why do you have one?”, she asked not unreasonably.  Followed up by; ” why do you have it in the car?”

We still made it in time to the doctor and were out of his surgery within twenty minutes. “No worries,” Helvi smiled.  To get back on harmonious levels, I made a point of sticking on the GPS and clicked on our ‘home’ address. It guided us back seamlessly. The soothing voice taking me into my previous conviviality.  We stopped on the way home in a nice pub and shared a Napoli pizza. Helvi had an Italian Pinot Gris and I had a nice schooner of stout.

It all came good, but only just.

 

Does it ever stop?

March 20, 2017
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Japanese Windflower

The dream of retirement was always to be a time of reflection. You know, reap the fruits of love and labour. So far, it has mainly been the peelings. Life doesn’t really let up. You see those ads of elderly couples swirling about on huge opulent large multi-storeyed ocean liners. A magnificently gowned wife having a glass of wine in one hand and with the other hand holding a rambunctious ruddy faced husband.

The video then takes you to the liner’s cabin (with ocean views) where the same husband with spouse, retire to their enormous red rose petal strewn bed, leaving no doubt that even in retirement, their conjugal activities are still hale and hearty, not having shrivelled or waned at all. Apparently that is a misconception. The elderly are shown as keen and eager as ever to have  sex. Not true, it’s all fake!  It’s fake sex.  In advertising the winning technique is always to show the opposite of reality and truth. That’s how advertising works. That unobtainable and forever elusive search for ‘happiness’, brings in the customers. The truth is that the elderly are more likely to engage in naps, study Aldi’s catalogue, enjoy domestic bickering, but rarely engage in wild sex with rose petals. Their rusty limbs just don’t allow that anymore.

This all because we are now finally getting our air conditioning installed. We signed the agreement some weeks ago. And no sooner had we coughed up the 10% deposit  were told that during the extraordinary heatwave they had been swamped with request for installing coolers. Since the heat left and the weather cooler we did not mind waiting. That’s what is nice about retirement. One becomes time rich and easy does it. This Thursday it is to start and we are excited. It will be nice to have the house comfortable and those wild swings between heat and freezing somewhat controlled by the push of a button.

For some months now we have been tossing up about going and sail away over the horizon. Helvi is still not keen at all on sailing away somewhere. “You are dreaming and letting go of all reality,” she says, while looking at me with those large true-blue eyes of hers. “You will be the first to be bored shitless,” she adds. “Yes, Helvi, but they have libraries and lots of shops, “I tell her narrowing my eyes. “No, it will just be waiting for eating and swallowing food, endless meals and snacks,” she adds to a pile of previous objections.

“I always like travelling when we did not know where we would end up sleeping, that to me is travelling,” she said. “Yes, but we are now too old. I am not going to sit in a bus travelling in Turkey, having a bout of intestinal hurry and on top of that not knowing where we will sleep. We are too old now,” I say with some earnest vehemence.

“Let’s just get the air conditioning out of the way. Keep looking at your Ocean Liners videos”, she adds.

It never lets up.