Posts Tagged ‘Helvi’

No words needed. But why ?

May 28, 2020

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Our previous home with our grandsons. A ‘before’ photo.

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Still garden intact a few weeks ago.

 

But now? This was all done on the order of the “chairperson,” a week ago.

IMG_0706 From inside

The view from the living room

 

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Outside our bedroom

 

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The entrance

 

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What would Helvi make of this?  Outrageous!

 

 

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The sweetness of Helvi’s garden. You can understand the need for me to move away from this toxic environment. But I still own it!

 

Folding bedsheets.

January 24, 2020

images Loving Couple

oosterman etching

It is not a new or a recent discovery that the running of modern households is often done by two people or even more, organised in such a way that is fairly shared. Perhaps before the invention of beds, clothes and footwear, the only thing to organise was the hunting and gathering of food, eating and sleeping with, of course, the occasional curious but well-known joining of bodies with up-down rhythmic shudderings lasting a few seconds, ensuring that life would go on in caves and other hollowed out interconnected warrens fit enough for human habitation.   Life was simple and there were no issues of life-style. Keeping up with Joneses wasn’t much more than perhaps having a bigger cave or better accuracy with the spear throwing.

Swivelling chairs, smart TVs or Apps were unknown, and so were washing machines, irons, vacuum cleaners, electric toothbrushes, dishwashers, air conditioning, hotplates, refrigerators, wine racks, dictionaries, Facebooks, tablets, micro waves, crosswords, (including cryptic) climate change, coal, Morrison, Hawaii, sport grants, Fitted Sheets.

Most of the above items would be familiar to most readers. Perhaps even owned by them. I have found out that I have been sleeping on top of fitted sheets for many years and now that I am widowed am slowly coming to terms in washing and folding them. I haven’t yet reached the much wanted stage of logic and rationality that I have stopped wanting what I can’t have anymore, ever, and that is Helvi…

The best I can do is to continue doing domestic things, as much as possible without hesitation or fear,  and hope the evening comes and I can fall in a deep sleep while still in my chair, slowly slipping into a heavenlike unconsciousness whereby most nights, I do spend with Helvi, albeit in dreams but her voice is real, and I am with her. On awakening in my own bed through some miracle, (perhaps levitational moving about) I find Milo on the floor next to my socks. He nudges me to get up and let him out.

I have to fold the sheets

And so, the next day starts and I put on the kettle for a cup of tea and look around what needs doing. Perhaps a quick vacuum? No, I have to fold the sheets I took out of the cloth- dryer the night before. I can’t dry washing outside. Since the bush- fires ash is still falling from the sky and coats cars, plants, the roads and rooftops. We had some rain and it turned the ash into a frothy slush.

The aim in folding the bedsheets is to have them in such way as to make the bed look newly made with, if possible a fold in the exact middle making it easy to have equal sides hanging over the edge of the bed. The modern way of making beds is to first have a matrass cover. I suppose it is to save the matrass of getting stains, from heaven knows what. (Nocturnal emissions or involuntary bowel/intestinal leakages.?)

Anyway, just leaving that aside. Above the matrass cover at least on my bed I have a ‘fitted sheet’. This is a queen size sheet that have the corners turned and sewn in such a way as to form a loop around the corners of the matrass. If sewn properly it makes a perfected tight fit on which to put a normal queen size top-sheet. Those fitted sheets are hard to fold neatly so I have found it best to just give up on folding them neatly and just roll them up in a fashion hoping for the best.

Of coarse making the double bed was always a job for both of us but on my own I now leave it to a good friend who every two weeks renews my sheets and makes the bed. The first night in a newly made bed with crispy sheets is very nice and I go early to bed so I can enjoy it while still awake for some time. She also cleans the house, top to bottom and as a good friend of Helvi is a wonderful companion who knows to listen to my woes and cries without criticisms or undue advice.

I never leave the bed unmade. Even on the fortnightly day the sheets gets taken off. It helps to have a discipline. I never really was much for routine but now I found out it helps.

It is a new situation I am in.

 

A widower’s attempt at mending his Ralph Lauren shirt.

January 15, 2020

IMG_0388Ralph Lauren shirt

Gerard’s shirt.

The above photo is of a shirt that I had re-arranged to fit over Helvi’s arm after she broke it on the 26th of June, 2019. I remember it well. It was a sunny day and I went bowling, but unbeknown to me and about an hour before I was due back home, Helvi while taking Milo for a walk, stumbled over a raised concrete footpath, and broke both her arms. What followed has already been exhaustively described on previous posts and I am still too mangled and upset to go back to it.

Helvi’s right arm was in plaster and had a steel or alloy plate inserted to help it heal. Her other arm had wires inserted to again help heal the arm. It did mean that her clothes would be hard to fit over her arms, especially her right arm. What amazed us was that we noticed many women ( and men) with enormous arms that were always clothed. The arms were tightly wrapped, but even so. Those arms were encased in material, shirts jumpers. You name it. How did those huge arms get into the garments?

So, why did I have such difficulty fitting clothes over Helvi’s plaster encaged, but reasonably slim arms, especially her right arm? One problem was that her arms were very painful and  the slightest force would result Helvi suffering pain, and she wasn’t one to complain easily! Her face would let me know! It was pitiful.

I did not really have the time to ponder about how large people managed to get dressed and instead investigated on overcoming my problem of dressing Helvi in clothes that would fit easily without causing too much pain while dressing her. I had shirts that were fairly wide-armed, men’s’ shirts generally are fitted loosely. I made them even easier to fit by cutting the right arms open to where the sleeve met the shoulder. This gave Helvi’s right arm the freedom to move about without any pressure on the shards of her broken bones. Of course the cuff would be left uncut so that the sleeve could still be buttoned up.

Now that all this has moved into the past, and Helvi gone since 29th Oct, it occurred to me to mend the shirts that were cut. I looked into Helvi’s mending basket and amongst all the bobbins of cotton, the needless, the boxes of saved buttons , her zipped-up container of small scissors, knitting needles and all other bits of haberdashery, I found a tape that one can actually iron on to mend tears in clothing items. I remember having used this form of tape before. It needs to be ironed on without actually ironing. You put the iron on ‘wool’ temperature and press it down on this magic tape. It is a type of clear material that adheres to the material without any visual changes. A bit of a true miracle repair tool really.

I went about first threading a needle with black cotton and stitching the long tear in my shirt sleeve as good as possible. I remember Helvi getting the cotton thread through the eye of a needle fairly quickly. I took a lot longer. After the threading I filled the sleeve with some padding to expose the stitched up sleeve and tear.  I took out the iron put it on ‘wool’ and ironed on the tape of mending material. Here is the shirt now. All as good as possible, The mend is on the inside so hardly noticeable.

IMG_0396 the iron mending

Here is the final result. Of course I could have thrown all the shirts out but I believe in not polluting the world. It is also a very good and comfortable shirt. I am so proud of my achievement.

Getting on with it.

December 6, 2019

IMG_0242 The kalanchoe

We are often told that getting over bereavement one has to try and refrain from sitting down and instead keep on moving about. Generally that is good advice even without being struck with bereavement. Of course, our houses have furniture, especially chairs, stools, and for the horizontal position lovers, beds. They are all instrumental in beckoning us to sit or lie down.

In my case of coping with a loss of my friend and partner, lots of friends have given advise on how to move forward and warned me of the dangers on sitting down. I like sitting down, and hardly ever get bored while seated. In fact, moving about I often felt an ennui creeping in more than when seated. The reason might well be that when seated one does not get distracted by moving pictorial images passing by while ‘on the move.’

In any case I thought of combining both the sitting down and the moving about way of overcoming a mind numbing grief. It is still so recent. I have applied to do some courses in U3A. Here it give a summary;

“The University of the Third Age is an international movement whose aims are the education and stimulation of mainly retired members of the community—those in their third ‘age’ of life. It is commonly referred to as U3A. There is no universally accepted model for the U3A. Wikipedia

Founded: 1973″
I have applied in doing 4 courses. Here they are.
1. Creative writing.
2. Thinking sociologically.
3. News in Review.
4. Global economy.
Already last year on the advice of Helvi, I managed to do a course in Dutch language also run by U3A. Unfortunately the person who ran the Dutch course passed away. Of course this 3 age includes the undeniable fact that with ageing one also approaches the finality of life much surer than when starting going to kindergarten.
I also have now decided, in the spirit of ‘keep on moving,’ to have a daily coffee at the local Bradman Cricket park café. It includes a good walk and with Milo in tow I hope to attract people. Even though Milo is the main attraction. An opportunity might present itself to engage in conversation with the friendly dog patters.
This morning’s coffee, a couple with a dog  were seated at a table outside in the sun. The dog had a plastic device around its head and must have had an operation in which it had to prevent gnawing the part of its body it was operated on. Poor dog.
Another woman was doing a cross-word puzzle but without a dog in tow.
This afternoon at 1pm I am going next door across the fence for a barbeque and a bottle of wine is being chilled in the fridge.
I am getting on with it.

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