Maybe I should start blogging again

Will the washing dry? #daysixnocentralheating #mouseplaguecontinues #sadforunexpectedreason #butexcitingthingmightbehappening #vaguebloggingfornow

I've been thinking about coming back to blogging. Quite a bit. I miss it. I miss talking to myself in that way and I miss talking to you, the audience, even if there are only three of you. Although I did like it back in the day when there were more of us blogging. Perhaps there is a new blogging tribe out there for me to discover. There are so many things I'd like to write about: books I've read, apocalyptic fiction and feminism, how it feels like we are at the end of days sometimes and yet I hope that we aren't, mental health and unhealth, single motherhood, grief, my plans for a new house with a dishwasher, bits and bobs that I am doing, living in a fat body and diet culture/fat acceptance and the weird spaces in between. Cooking. I'd like to write about cooking too. And living with a tween, but perhaps not too much about that, because well, not my story so much anymore. And, and, and. And I'd like to be writing fiction again after a long, long break. I write stories in my head all the time but they evaporate like weird dreams, leaving only fragments behind.

So I am sitting at my computer. Testing the keys. I've been sick with a cold for nearly two weeks and bored is starting to win over tired so hopefully the cold is nearly done.The last two years have been filled with a deep and unmoving depression that has been hard to shift. I thought it was me, I thought it was the pills, I thought it was my life then the pills. It was really, really, hard to do anything. Anything except sit at the kitchen table and read. I suspect reading has saved my life in more ways than I can count. I talked to my psychiatrist at length about this, about wanting to go off lithium, about wanting to see if it was the pills or me. Scared it was me. She was reluctant, mindful that I am a single mother and that I can't afford to crack up. I was desperate, willing to risk cracking up, being in hospital, being crazy if it meant I could get my life back.

As it turned out, things came to a head. Unsurprisingly my physical health has deteriorated as well. My fitness is at an all time low. Like really low and I know what I need to do but have been unable to take simple steps. I've put on even more weight, my blood pressure and cholesterol are now needing medication. Just until I can make the lifestyle changes necessary, my kindly doctor assures me. Then I had a hernia surgery about six months ago. It went really well but there was a cascade of other health effects and I ended up dehydrated, with my blood pressure medication not playing well with the lithium. This culminated into a descent into too high lithium levels. I was at craft camp and I couldn't craft, everything as really difficult, my whole left side was shaking. Two days later at the doctor I was saying how unwell I felt. I couldn't express how really. Just really unwell. That night my doctor rang me because the lab had rung him with my lithium levels. I stopped taking it. Just stopped which is apparently not what you are meant to do according to my psychiatrist. But it was like a line had been crossed.

The next few weeks were wobbly and I started a small dose of a new medication. It's OK. Well, better than OK. I'm not thirsty all the time so I sleep better at night because I am not getting up to wee every two hours. My feet are not (very) swollen. I feel like I have gained ten IQ points. I get bored and crave company, things to do.There's still a long way to go before I feel fully functional - my lack of physical fitness till needs much work- but I feel like I am back. And maybe like I have something to say again. Maybe.

One year

Gerard died last night. In hospital. We are sad and somehow getting through the day.

It's a beautiful day today. Rupert has been outside, sunning himself like a cat on the concrete. The sun was gently on my shoulders as I took the compost out. It has been exactly one year since Gerard died. I arrived too late to sit with him as he died. To hold his hand or say a few last words of love. I don't know how much that would have mattered to him, he's gone now, but I would have liked the chance. I remember sitting with him after he was gone and then stepping out into the most beautiful February evening imaginable. The air was soft and balmy, the light lucid, luminous. As I drove home the car lights were like a river of sparkle.

I've had a few cries today. I can't believe that this happened (still), that it's been a year. I still miss Gerard, it hasn't gone away. Although I think that I am starting to function a bit better. Not that you would be able to tell from the back yard. Every now and then I have a glimmer of feeling that feels like real, felt life is coming back. That the stones of grief that fill you up are starting to move a bit. But it also feels like memory and sadness are all I have of him and I don't want to lose that last thing. Hopefully one day I will have memory and happiness.

Tonight we are going to the park with friends. To raise a glass and hang out. It feels like a good thing to do.

Flickr and Instagram

So you know how when you share images on your blog from Flickr, it includes writing on the image. Writing that didn't used to be there before. Well you can easily get rid of it by deleting some of the code. As underlined in green below.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="" title="Knee high grass..... Shoulder high weeds (not shown). Lawn mower day today"><img src="" width="640" height="640" alt="Knee high grass..... Shoulder high weeds (not shown). Lawn mower day today"></a><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Also my Instagram images stopped going from Instagram to Flickr. I tried everything I could to fix it up, uninstalling and reinstalling here there and everywhere. Then I stumbled across IFTTT and this recipe. Perfect. Works a treat, I don't even have to specify that the Instagram photo goes to Flickr when I am posting. It is very automatic. I love it. And here are some options to import the ones that were missed. I stupidly imported ALL my instagram photos to flickr and then had to delete a whole pile. It looks like there is an easier way.

That's my lawn I didn't mow today. Stomach pain again. Bleurgh. Tomorrow is another day.

Knee high grass..... Shoulder high weeds (not shown). Lawn mower day today

the last day when everything was alright

I feel better today. Happier. Lighter. A pill the doctor gave me for my stomach has pretty much stopped it hurting. And that has made a big difference. Also I went to a hen's afternoon yesterday, without a hurty stomach, and much to my surprise had a really nice time. So there. Things can be better.

The other night I was looking through my photos. I do this often. Maybe it's not a good thing but I crave reminders of the way things used to be. Of being a family of three. It sometimes feels like it is slipping away. I don't want to feel sad all the time but I want to hold the memories close. To remember what it felt like to belong with Gerard, to be loved, to be held up, to do things and plan things together. And you know, to love someone back. Even if sometimes I wish I'd been nicer to him. Kinder and more appreciative.


Anyway, this day we went to the art gallery, to meet Gerard's aunt. It was a great day out. We saw modern art, we had afternoon tea together. There was clowning around. I sat and watched this pool of china plates in water. I loved how they collided and the sound they made. It was peaceful and mesmerising. Grace and Gerard loved the water wall. I love the water wall too. That pose of Gerard's is so him. It really was a very good day.

The next day which was Sunday, my stepfather came and found me in my study and told me that my mother was in hospital with suspected lung cancer. After that things got worse and better and then worse again. And now Mum and Gerard are both dead, gone forever. I'm glad that the last day before everything started to change was a good day. I look back to that day sometimes and there is so much to hold onto.



So I was trying to think of something to put in the card for my friend who is getting married. And I can't quite put my finger on it yet. When you lose part of your family I think you realise how big they were in your life and I want to say something that speaks to that but isn't trite or advicey. Something suitable for a joyous occasion. 

I'm not full of regret for things undone. When I look back at the photos it's clear that we did things together, family dinner, hanging out with extended family, camping, seeing friends, outings and just hanging out at home. The stuff of a life together, it is all there. I remember when Gerard and I were first together and in love, I had that big fear of losing him too. I dismissed this fear at the time, but even though I wouldn't want to have lived with that fear, it was actually quite rational. Love is a huge investment. You wouldn't not do it because the rewards are big too but the stakes are high. I envy couples who get to be together for fifty years or so. And yet, as I saw in grief group, the loss there when the first one goes, is often immense. I don't think many of us escape from grief forever. Not if we have loved ones. I still don't know what I'm trying to say but there you have it. The last day when everything was alright. (In this round. Everything will be alright again. I'm holding onto that.)


things I meant to write about

Trigger warning: a mention of suicidal thoughts

Snow. We went to the the snow at Lake Mountain with two other families. It was really, like really cold and kind of blizzarding. I surprised myself by making a egg and bacon pie like Mum would have made and a cake the night before. Another surprise was that I was able to hire warm but bulky snow gear in my size. However I sat in the car watching the snow fall while everyone else went tobogganing. It was six months to the day since Gerard died. Watching snow fall and thinking about how we never went to the snow as a family even though we talked about it a lot seemed an appropriate activity. I also remembered how in my twenties I used to go cross country skiing and how I took that level of fitness for granted.


Craft Camp. As I was packing to go to craft camp I didn't think I would be ready in time or that I would be able to extricate myself from the chaos that is my house. Luckily I had a lift, so I had to be ready. Craft camp was so good, it was nice to see everyone and I was moderately productive and made a doona cover and some pillow cases. I still feel like I am in a hole, behind a wall a bit. But at the end I kind of felt like I was back. It was a good feeling and I was able to hold onto it for a while.

Downer. I went to look at Mum's house which was being prepared for sale with Dad which was good. Then he started talking about my health and his concerns. I've put on weight and my health and fitness is not great at the moment but this talk made me feel worse. Much worse. By the time I got home and to the safety of my room I was a crying mess and my big thought was "why wait? I'll just kill myself now". That thought did pass and I am not troubled by suicidal thoughts in general but it was intense while it was there.

Sun. We went to visit the family in Queensland. It was wonderful. We went to the beach three times and I went swimming in the sea twice. I didn't have to cook or really make decisions and that was really restful. It's a bit intense being around three children all outside their comfort zones but I think the melt downs were fewer in number than before. And it was wonderful to see everyone. If only air travel was a bit cheaper so we could go for weekends as well.

At the doggy beach

Yet another downer. Came home to knee length grass and head high weeds and all the disorder I left behind. (Although coming home to Rupert was so sweet - he was looked after by a friend while we were away and she dropped him home before we arrived so there was a little dog at the window). I know what I need to do but just can't seem to do it. Although I have been moderately successful at walking more. But gees it's hard. And yesterday as hot winds blew around the house, I lost it. Lay on my bed and sobbed. Needing hanky after hanky and many glasses of water. I miss Gerard so much. It's a cliché but it really does feel like a part of me is gone, among other things it feels like the bit that starts things is gone. It's hard to explain the degree of distress I still feel from time to time. It feels like I should be doing better now and sometimes I am, but not all the time. Everything is broken and I don't know which bits to start fixing first. Or I know, but it doesn't happen. Because that starting bit being broken too.

Some hope for the future. I might have some work coming up. That would be good. I'm going to see the doctor about all my niggly health concerns and talk about reviewing my meds. The weather is better. I should be less hard on myself. It is only 8 months since Gerard died and about 11 months since Mum died. Neither of these make any sense to me and I miss them so much. Of course things will be shit, but there are better times to come. I just have to believe that.


On the way home. Very cold.

I had the most wonderful dream last night. Perhaps fuelled by the codeine rich cough medicine I am taking, but it was fabulous anyway. My aunt, the one who is a personal trainer and tremendously fit in her seventies and who was once butterfly champion of Victoria came to get me to go for a run. I said I couldn't. She said let's go and see what you can do. We ran along the side of a big Jeffrey Smart freeway and I ran at 100k an hour. It was exhilarating and effortless. Afterwards we stopped for a drink and she said, see, you can run Janet.

Of course in real life, I can't run, well not very far and not very fast. My weight is at a high and fitness is at a low. I feel like I am getting one cold after another. The current one makes me feel very weak and I cough a lot. So much my sides ache and I worry about annoying the neighbours. Also I was unsuccessful in getting an interview for a job I liked the look of. I'm not devastated by that, part of me is not quite ready, but part of me is. I'd like to be good at something in the bigger world again. But dreams are an amazing thing, I think it was a message to myself that things will get better, that I will find that state of flow, of wonderment, of movement again.


Oh the germs!
Grace really, really wanted a puppy and she used to play with the dog next door through the hole in the fence and there was something sad about that, especially as her Dad had a brain tumour and things were like they were. So maybe puppy moved into the land of something we might do afterwards. We talked a lot about looking after a dog and she demonstrated how responsible she was by taking over the feeding of Tony. After Gerard died, we talked more about getting a dog (and kittens), maybe after Tony died. On the day we left for Bali, I took Tony to the vet.  He had been  shitting inside and the vet said it was behavioural, that is feline senility. He was 21 after all. I felt sad about my decision but really, I'd had enough of cleaning up poo.  Grace's birthday came around and presents were a bit thin on the ground. I'd been looking online at poodles and poodle crosses and had already contacted the Poodle Club of Victoria. I looked at rescue dogs too but I felt that a puppy was better idea. And because of a dog we had when I was a teenager, I wanted a poodle. Anyway, I ended up committing to the idea and made Grace a card promising a poodle puppy.

Two weeks later, she took a day off school and we drove down the new freeway all the way out to Hampton Park. It was spitting and we got very lost but eventually found ourselves at the breeder's home. I think she might have agreed to sell us a puppy because I promised faithfully that he would be an inside dog and sleep on my bed. She might have done a double take when she saw our shit car and Grace's dreadlocks poking out from the hat I made her wear. The puppies were jumpy and cute and the breeder was interesting. I paid her the completely insane amount of money for a puppy over my phone and showed her as the transaction went through. We travelled home with the puppy on Grace's lap.

The first few days were utterly berserk. It was like bringing a new baby home. He cried so I let him sleep on my bed then the second night he slept on my bed and snuffled and cried. The third night I gave him a mohair blanket on a cushion in the bathroom and he settled right down. He ate an m and m from the floor in Grace's room and Grace was afraid he would die. She freaked out about not being able to look after him and keep him safe and said she wished we'd just got a cat. And to be honest for the first couple of weeks, I thought that a fair bit too. But we went to puppy school and I committed to helping him learn to toilet outside. Grace cleaned up lots of poo and wee, good to her word. And then one day we noticed we hadn't cleaned up inside and then it became a week and then, bar one accident, two weeks. I felt so proud of us, he takes himself out, through the catflap (it's big for a cat), all on his own. I think he feels a bit proud and independent too.

There is still lots for Rupert to learn but he is a wonderful dog. At first I really did think I might have made an expensive and hard to fix mistake and there was a bit of your father is gone, here have a puppy in my decision. Probably because other than being there - which is huge, it feels like there is not a lot you can do to help a child who is grieving. So I guess I was prepared to risk being wrong. But nearly three months on I don't think I was. Rupert is full of love and good humour. Indeed I think I really underestimated how good dogs can be. We had a dog when I was growing up and another when I was older and I don't remember much about it except that they were always there. Now I find myself thinking about dog and human relationships and how it came to be like this and whether it is fair to make Rupert sleep in the bathroom when he would much rather sleep in an armchair. I worry about whether he gets enough exercise - Gerard was the best of us for promoting exercise. Grace walks him around the park. Sometimes we go for a longer walk and we have plans for more. Often we both focus love on him at the same time which is bonding for us and for Rupert. Technically he is Grace's dog and she is allowed to take him with her if she leaves home and can look after him. Actually I don't think I want either of them to leave home. But I am back up. All the time.

ps - I think tongue kissing a dog is unsanitary and unwise but have yet to convince Grace.
pps - I sometimes think about what Gerard would have thought of Rupert. He would have baulked at spending the money on a pure bred (although poodle crosses are often even more expensive) but Rupert would have loved him. Gerard was good with animals.

Puppy love.