from now on, light wins over dark

The Sunday before last (has it really been that long since I blogged?) we celebrated the Spring Equinox down by the Merri Creek. The creek was full of rushing water, the grass was long and lush. There was also a fair bit of onion weed, but that's the city for you. There was eating and drinking, hanging out, children playing and climbing the cliff. And some very serious cape action.

Unfortunately our social calender (plus my laziness) has been such that we didn't make it to the cape making workshop, but I'm thinking that we should plan some outfits for the summer solstice celebration. And some lanterns or torches for zooming about after dark and making our way back to the bridge and home again.

Life is pretty good in the 'hood. 

sleepy afternoon

Today I was wide awake and the sun was shining so brightly that it was warm enough for t-shirts and sandals. But yesterday felt only half light, half awake, an albedo state. All morning, yearning to fall back into sleep. The full state of dreamy introversion and slow changeability. Rain and gentle grey clouds. For the first part of the day I propelled myself onto the bus and into the office of my psychiatrist; an intense session followed, in which we talked of many things. Afterwards, a few items to pick up in town and home again. Walked en famille to enrol Grace in school for next year and got caught in the rain. School felt big. Then G went out to do some messages and Grace and I stayed home to have a rest. Grace made a bed on the lounge room floor with the stripey sleeping bag and a pillow and I snuck between the two doonas, allowing my body to sink into relaxation and slowly drift away. Until Grace came and told me that she'd had enough rest. I meant to get up and I could hear her playing games in her room but somehow I couldn't quite rouse myself. Normally I'd feel bad about that, but it was the sort of afternoon where it was OK. I drifted, half dozing, half listening out for her. Grace came to check on me and tell me this and that and didn't seem at all bothered. Later she came and told me that she was tired again and that she was going to have another rest. I assumed she'd go on the couch or on her bed even, but no, she snuggled onto her sheepskin mat with her blankie.

sleepy afternoon

At some point G came home and found us all asleep and went out again, to pick up the vegie box and the tofu, to gossip and be in the wide awake world. When I came to properly, I looked out the bedroom window at the rain and felt as though I had been roused from some long enchantment. Then as I walked around the house, it seemed as though we'd all been under the same spell. Even Tony was asleep. Grace had made herself a snack at some point, getting bread and leftover rice pudding from the fridge (mmm cold jasmine rice pudding). There was a bit of mess, but not much really. I walked around and woke them both up, just in time for daddy to arrive home with the vegie box and for me to make dinner. Which was my new recipe for very edible tofu burgers with greens, mushrooms and eggplant. They were very nice. If I do say so myself.

sad day came and went

So sad day has come and gone. It's true I was sad in patches, but I think the weather reminds me of a whole lot of sad days seven years ago, not just one a particular day. It's funny when people act surprised about the wind or the weather about now, and comment that it's unusual, but it isn't. Mid September in Melbourne is often like this. Or it has been ever since I started noticing.

Most of Sunday was filled with the usual sort of household drama. Visitors before I was even dressed and then one of Grace's little friends stayed for an hour or two. While showering I overhead the complex negotiation about who was going to to be the Prince and who would be the Princess and whether one of the dolls could be the wicked fairy. Very funny. Then we had a story, Thumbelina from the book with lots of words and then I folded the washing. Scintillating. After serving the girls lunch, I set up to photograph some carrot dip and discovered that mice have been eating my linen and that the lower cupboard was full of sugar, shredded plastic and mouse poo. Just charming. So that's why my favourite linen tea towells have holes in them (but not the pineapple ones that Suse gave me, they have been used elsewhere and have escaped the ravages of the mice). The girls were quite helpful while I cleaned it all up and when Merri suggested we put our cat in the cupboard to eat the mice, Grace and I just looked at her. Tony's well and truly retired from all that. The oracle of the internet suggests peppermint oil.

By lunchtime though, I had become really, really crabby and started talking about needing to get ready to go back to work and about how much of my sick leave had been spent child wrangling (as opposed to lying on the couch - although I did do a bit of that when Grace was at childcare) and G took Grace down to the house where he is working. I sat by the kitchen window and looked at the clouds and worked on de-naffing a black trench coat I bought at the beginning of my holidays. I removed shoulder epaulets, detail around the wrists and shifted the belt loops down to my natural waist. It was a bit scary working on something I bought new, but it looks so much better. I may even change the buttons.

And during this time I thought  about the last seven years and where I am now and what might have been. In previous years I would have gone and looked at my small envelope of physical memories from that time. Some polaroids of our son Frank that one of the lovely nurses took, some ultrasounds and tiny hand prints. I didn't really want these things at the time, but I am glad I kept them. We were offered the services of a proper photographer, for free even, but I had no clue that might be important later. And although I appreciated the thought and care (especially of the volunteers who made them), I never really liked the clothes the hospital gave us either, the materials seemed harsh and scratchy for such a tiny, tiny baby. Or the photos, a baby that age is meant to be still inside you and you can see that. Somehow he looked too exposed and he was. But still I keep these tangible things and they are important to me. Shortly after started working in where I am now, we were burgled and the thieves left all these photos and papers strewn around. I remember Gerard being very anxious and warning me in advance. Now that envelope is in a box in the depths of the shed. I thought they'd be something I wouldn't want until we'd renovated, perhaps even more foolishly I thought we'd have renovated by now. Hah! Oh well, when I do unpack those boxes I can make a nice fabric wallet or something. And I might plant a very special tree in the front yard, something that flowers at this time of year. Or maybe I've already planted the right tree, the quince. I'll think about that one.

Yay for long, long weekends. I must get out in the garden and finish shovelling the mulch that we now just drive over and plant some of the plants I have in pots before the weather heats up. Because we certainly seem to have left winter behind.

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And once again thank you for your lovely words. It's really nice to hear from you, and much appreciated when you've been feeling a bit out of sorts.

a case of the septembers

I've had lots of things that I've wanted to post, but life has been getting in the way. As usual. Indeed there are a whole lot of drafts sitting there waiting to be finished off or tossed because the moment has passed. But to be honest, I think I'm a bit tired of this blog. Tired of my writing, tired of my pictures. Feeling ugly and clumsy and wordy. Not enough grace, elegance or beauty. Serves me right for looking back I suppose. It doesn't help that I really am over typepad. Now that I'm doing a lot in blogger over here, I really am a convert. Problem is, moving will not be easy. But yeah, it's not a case of "if" anymore, it's definitely a "when". Is there anyone out there who has done it? Or knows of a blog that has? I've been following the google converter hoping that it will become more developed, but maybe I'm just going to have to bite the bullet. When I have time.

And the wind. How I loathe this wind rattling the windows and blowing polystyrene boxes around the yard. I've been saving them to plant greens in but of course I haven't got around to it. It's warm and a harbinger of the good things of summer but yesterday when I got out Grace's birth certificate to place with her school enrollment papers (how did that happen - I have a school age child?) and I looked down at the children of previous relationship and after I noticed that our son has my surname and not G's like Grace does, I felt that feeling. That remembrance of grief that fills you like your insides are filled with rocks. I've been crabby ever since. And that wind is really pissing me off. Sad day is actually tomorrow, but I think it's always the weather that brings me a bit undone for a while. It's not as bad as it was, but I wonder whether I will still feel like this when I am an old woman?

I should really go and collect Grace for lunch. She's at a neighbours house where G is working. My bum is itchy, which means it is healing but it's irritating beyond belief and it's not really something I can scratch. And I should put moisturuser on my hands.  And reset all the settings on my camera and start anew. And make some trousers for work, simple easy ones that I can finish quickly because if it's too hot to wear boots and skirt but not warm enough for skirt and sandals, I am truly stuffed in terms of wardrobe choices. My last years trousers really are too tight. They were too tight last year and nothing has changed. Sigh. Yeah, so I should do something about that too. Yeah, well that was a Massive Whinge, wasn't it!

yeah, yeah, yeah. Life really is OK but I wish the wind would just stop and I could be bothered getting round to posting about the rabbit we made and the tofu recipe that is actually edible. You know good things. Thank goodness September doesn't last forever.

clothes swap in the park

Last Sunday we had a clothes swap in the park. It was organised as a fundraiser to buy some equipment for our drygoods co-op and it was so much fun (even though I was still in recovery mode and thought I might not make it,  I'm glad I did). It was simple too. The deal was that you arrived with your bag of things to swap; clothes (kid's, men's, women's), books, toys, shoes, some bric a brac. Basically anything good enough to give to the opshop. You paid five dollars per family and you were in. There was also a table with slices of cake, tea and coffee for a gold coin donation. We all started looking at everything as it arrived, of course, but put everything back in the pile. Once everyone was there, we stood around, poised and waited for the word. Then we fossicked. Oh it was good! The only danger was that if you took something off to try something on, it was liable to disappear! And Helke nearly lost her new ugg boots. Oops. But those issues got sorted pretty quickly and it all turned out OK.

The best thing I came away with was a beautiful long vintage velvet skirt with a border pattern that I am going to remake into a shorter skirt or some bags.I also picked up a t-shirt to remake slightly for Grace (although it's in an adult size she asked if it was for her - it's stripey and really her colours) and some dress ups. Gerard got some records and Grace got some new toys. We got rid of heaps and heaps of stuff and it was a good feeling that our neighbours got a chance to pick over it before it went to the oppy. Afterwards, a woman from a local opshop came with a van and took the remaining stuff away. It was a winner all round.

I think we're going to do it four times a year now, just before the season changes perhaps. Indeed, I heard that it may be the easiest fundraiser ever. Not that I organised it, but it sure beats being asked to take chocolate from childcare to sell at work. We said no to that one, because we'd just eat it and end up not only having eaten a shitload of very expensive chocolate but paying for it too.  And the clothes swap was great, the kids were talking about it for ages and I think anything where we come home with less stuff than we walked out the door with has to be a good thing.

* * * *

Thank you for your well wishes too. Things are slowly starting to improve, although I am going to have another week off work. I have all these thoughts about the hospital system swirling about my head but maybe I'll leave them until some other time.

Night, night.

a big pain in the arse

From the time I left my parents hospital cover as a young adult until after the mental health crisis of Christmas 2007, I made a decision that I would get what I needed in the public health system, even during those few phases of my life when I could choose otherwise. Anyway I was going to look at the two systems before and after actually being hospital for my bottom surgery last Thursday. But time got away from me, as it does. I came home from hospital last Saturday and I thought I would have got around to it before now, but let's just say pain is still my friend, as are the heavy duty painkillers that make me nod off in the middle of the day and may well make me say things I might regret later (insert TMI and long ramble warning here - if you don't want to hear me talk about my bottom issues and other gruesome things I might mention, look away now - otherwise feel very free to use the words bum, bugger, bottom and etc).

Before I went to hospital I was taken with how quickly everything moved. The condition (an external thrombosed hemorrhoid) flared up on the Thursday, I saw my GP (at an excellent bulk billing community health centre in the public system) on the Saturday, rung the specialist on the Monday and had an appointment the very next day. He offered me surgery that Thursday, but I had started to manage the 'roid well enough to put it off until the following Thursday, after craft camp (priorities, priorities). Which also gave me some time to get some pyjamas organised.  Last time I had bottom surgery in 2002, my GP had sent me to the emergency department with a referral and I saw the specialist in an outpatient clinic a week and a half later (which meant a week and a half off work as I couldn't sit down - different type of 'roid). As I was pregnant at the time, I had banding (which suited that type of 'roid) and the actual surgery wasn't until over a year later and it was done as day surgery. Meaning I was sent home with no idea of wound care, no pain management routine and not having used my bowels. It was fairly traumatic on many levels.

This time my GP advised me to at least see the private surgeon, who as it turned out could have referred me into the public system where I would have had a much shorter wait and less cost (not sure how that works exactly but it seems like a lurk) or I could get it done on a Thursday of my choosing. Deciding that having a flare up again was something to be avoided at all costs (it had hurt so much that I had considered going to emergency and could barely walk for two days), I opted for the more expensive option. And I was told that I would be in hospital at least one night. Wow. Turns out that they don't like to let you go until you have had a bowel movement, but there's a reason I'm prone to 'roids and one of them is that new places cause me to seize up. As do morphine based drugs, lack of activity, being around sick people and hospital food. So I stayed two nights. But by the second morning, the novelty of lying around had well and truly worn off and I was so desperate to go home and made a good case for it.  But you know, I get the feeling that I could have easily stayed another night. There just wasn't the same pressure on beds. Which seems odd, because sick people are sick people.

I didn't get a room of my own, obviously there are private hospitals and private hospitals, most rooms had two people in them and I was sharing with a very sick and disoriented old lady who would call out in the middle of the night and I would buzz for the nurse which worked well enough until the shift when nurse ratchett was on. Same ratio of mean nurses to the public system, that is most nurses were lovely but there was always one. I felt sorry for the old lady, she deserved better than that nurse. The food was exactly the same level of crappiness as in the public system too. Reminds me of how well we eat at home. Would it be so hard to use a good (or even average) quality bread and provide some fresh fruit and plain yoghurt? And real coffee? Even if you had to buy it from a coffee cart or something? The rooms weren't any flasher, except that the use of the TV was included. Indeed nothing was really any different except that I didn't have to wait, got to choose a surgeon (which really was just the one my GP referred me to, it's not like I know a great deal about colorectal surgeons in Melbourne) and I got to stay overnight. Oh, and there weren't hordes of student doctors, which did seem a bit strange. Oh, and I was sent home with a a follow up appointment with the surgeon and a big bag of drugs and there will no doubt be a bill for all those little extras that I didn't pay for up front like the anesthetist's gap (I have cheap health insurance with a high excess). It was in hindsight more serious surgery than the last one, but less traumatic than it could have been. Except for when I think that I can do OK with just the panadol and anti-inflammatory.  The doctor did say to not let the pain get on top of me and to use the stronger painkillers when necessary. But he only wrote me a certificate for a week and there's no way I can function on any level with the la la drugs. But the feeling of doing a barbed wire poo doesn't do much for my composure either. I seem to remember a similar issue with medical certificates last time. What is this modern obsession with hurrying back to work? Not to worry, GP appointment again on Saturday. Methinks another week off might be in order.

Anyway I still think what I thought before. That money spent on health insurance would be better going straight into the health care system. Except that for some reason people don't seem to mind paying for insurance in the same way they hate paying tax. That the work it takes to administer a health insurance scheme could be better spent administering actual health care. It bothers me when I see people (customers) at work that wait for up to two years for surgery that means they can work again.  Maybe we could elect the level of medicare we paid, basic or fancy. Fancy only adding some frills to the service you got in hospital but not to your genuine care.

Or perhaps we could get a grip as a society and decide that everyone deserves timely health care. Not just those who can pay for it.