Farewell Dear Friend

IMG_20190818_093138.jpgDear Paul,

We all miss you, we all wish you could have been cured and you would still be with us here.

Your piano without you is just wrong, the flowers reflect your love of the bush and our indigenous plants, but what good are flowers now that you are not here?

Seeing the grief of your family makes it so real, it’s easy to think in the abstract but seeing the tears is raw and real.

We love you.

http://www.paulgioia.com/

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No title, just blog

As I write this, a dear man I have known for nearly 34 years is dying. He is beyond visitors and has not managed to return home to be in his bed when this happens. Instead, he is in a hospital bed, his wife and two sons with him, trying to get as much out of the time they have together.

This man is a giver, not a taker. He has given of himself, so much over the time I have known him. He is a writer of music, a jazz musician with a spiritual side, a good Italian son who plays the piano accordian (of course) as well as several other instruments of jazzier reputation.

He is a clean-living, family man who has had a marvellous life, apart from the bastard cancer that has wracked his body. He has lived with the disease for 26 years and outlived his initial prognosis by over a decade, but it’s not enough and it’s not fair and I am thoroughly pissed off about the whole damn business.

I cry for his wife and boys, for the huge hole that will be in their lives when he leaves, I cry for us, his family of friends and dread the gaping wound that will be left behind when he leaves. I know I am being selfish, I know it’s not about me, but when someone this special dies, the impact is like a huge wave of grief in so many peoples lives.

We love you P and hope to see you again someday, rest easily mate and leave the pain behind.

Long time, no see…hear..etc etc

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here on this blog.

No excuses, but a reason.

EXHAUSTION.

After 3 house moves in 18 months ending with the purchase of my lovely, tiny home, I had very little energy left for anything much. I haven’t really had much left after the days at work and  I actually thought there might be something seriously wrong, so off I trundled to my GP. She looked at me with some concern and said she wasn’t surprised, I have been through a lot and am still recuperating, but she did some bloods and all is okayish except low Vitamin D  and marginally high cholesterol, (these may be related), so she diagnosed me clinically with exhaustion and gave me some suggestions as to how to remedy these.

It’s been a slow improvement. There are still some days when I get home and just stretch out on the sofa and haven’t the energy to do anything; there are others that end with walking the dogs (yes, I now have two little rescues, a mother and daughter combo), cooking dinner and deciding on my next project.

Added to this, my dear 89 year old Mum became very ill and after spending a week in hospital, recuperated with my brother for a fortnight and then at my place for 4 weeks. It is very sobering when an aged parent has a health scare and we know every day is precious. She is back home now and doing well, she now has a cleaner which has certainly made a difference as she would get quite stressed about having to do a big clean before people like me came to stay. My brother and I would both like her to come and stay with us, as it is a worry that she is 2 1/2 hours away, but she is in her home, where she wants to be.

I bought some classes on watercolour painting and have started those and am doing them very slowly. It is a little disheartening that my artistic side has been buried under years of keeping a family together, my abilities have regressed, but I am making progress and enjoying small steps.

I have actually sewn stuff and sometimes enjoyed it (sometimes it has just felt like work).

 

My young, new garden (the garden was a mass of weeds and poorly placed plants) is thriving, although the lawn has taken a battering over summer as there are no trees to protect it.

I have redecorated to make my new place just me and I love it. New flooring, new window treatments, new low-profile security screens, an attic ladder (so the excess stuff is in the roofspace), a new sewing room (formerly a storeroom with bare walls and lawnmower oil on the bare concrete floor), some new furniture to add some colour etc etc… this is an expensive process.

Phase 1 to make the house feel like me, is over. Phase 2 is much more expensive, solar panels on the roof, a new kitchen and a remodelled bathroom; these will take serious money and will need to be saved for. My mortgage is huge (considering my income), so there is little left over for anything except life, Phase 2 is a long way off.

In a couple of weeks, a friend (who I have not seen since 1985) and I, will be meeting in Melbourne and driving back to Perth. The holiday is the drive. We will be following the coast all the way, incorporating a helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles (so-called, although there aren’t twelve of them), a fishing trip, a desert stay on the Nullabor and some very long hours spent driving. I am experiencing some anxiety about this trip, but I think it will be okay. My friend and I have holidayed together in the past and he is a good conversationalist with a good mind- we are just friends and hopefully will stay that. This trip is quite long and it has been a long time since we have seen each other, I would hate for it to turn out that it compromises our friendship.

I have a week off at the end of the trip to recuperate before I return to work, then it’s back to the grindstone.

I am tired just thinking about it!

Seeking beauty

I have been out of commission lately due to moving house (again), buying a home (needs work before I make the move…yet again) and the collapse of my elderly mother a week ago (with subsequent family round-table discussions as to how to help her either stay independent where she is or move from the country to live with one of us…watch this space).

My former husband served me with the Divorce papers a few days ago and while I was okay with it, there was a tinge of sadness that things worked out the way they did. No-one gets married with the thought that divorce is the back-up plan and everyone does the best they can with the skills they have at the time.

Anyway, all that navel-gazing caused me eventually to look outward and to seek beauty in things we often ignore because we are caught up in the busy-ness of everyday life.

I saw this magnificent gum tree the other day whilst walking to work. It has been there for generations, shading the land below it and witnessing the changes that happen- horses and tracks, cars and roads, mia mias and houses, offices and traffic lights; all the while helping living things breathe better air and providing homes to insects, animals and birds.

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I always feel more relaxed when thinking of or being with Nature.

Jenn xxx

A couple of crackers

I don’t often post book reviews although I am a voracious reader, but these two really got to me in different ways and I thought I would share them. I am rarely drawn to “light reads” and am more attracted to novels about relationships that are fraught and turbulent.

 

IMG_20180624_142045.jpg This is the quirky tale about a quiet young man called Charlie, who applies for and gets the job of Harbinger of Death.

He visits people around the globe bringing (often tatty) gifts of deep meaning to individuals. He describes his job as being a courtesy and it is Death who tells him who to visit.

The other characters include Pestilence, War and Famine and his intermittent love-interest, as well as the supporting cast of people who do not necessarily want him to visit (although, his visiting is not always a precursor to dying).

His travels often take him into dangerous territory and occasionally he has been close to dying himself, but his job means he no longer fears death and his calm approach helps a lot of the people he visits.

I described this book as quirky, it is certainly a fresh way of looking at the moving towards leaving this world, and making human the characters of Death, Famine and others is engaging (although War is frivolous and to me, very unlikeable) and slightly unnerving.

It was not an easy, it took me a week to get through this book as I couldn’t read much more than a chapter at a time, there was a lot to digest. It was an enjoyable, though at times, disconcerting read.

The next book is  IMG20180703041902.jpg.

Mette Jakobsen is Danish but now living in Sydney and this short novel is a real tug at the heart strings. The main character is a man whose son has died in unfortunate circumstances, he can’t believe the reality of his son being gone and instead starts a journey to look for him.

I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it for you should you wish to read it, the pain of the main character and his wife is palpable, their estrangement as they deal with the reality of the death of their only child was enough to reduce me to tears at times.

It is a wonderful book, again, not easy reading but difficult to put down. If there is a downside to it, it is the amount of sex that is described in detail. I don’t think of myself as a prude, but the cynical soon-to-be divorcee in me wonders at the spontaneity of the couple sex life after so many years together. I will concede however, that the sex in the book is always loving (and not always successful).

Some heavy, but worthwhile reading for you to ponder and maybe delve into?

Immersed in nature

Walking in the bush gives me vitality, the lifting of a weight from my shoulders feels real, I can breathe and enjoy the moment.A couple of weeks ago, we had the most glorious weather over a weekend and my daughter and I decided a bushwalk would do wonders for our winter fug.

Off we went to John Forrest National Park which straddles, Greenmount and Hovea in Western Australia.

This is close to where I grew up, I always feel energised and happy when I am in this country. We parked the car outside the park and walked cross country to the little settlement within the park, it was a very special time, I felt 30 years younger and just wanted to shout out loud with delight 🙂

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A few of the Balga trees (Xanthorrea) had flower spikes, but it is too early for the flower buds to be open. There was a lot of Dryandra and I really hope to plant some in the garden of my new home (when I get one). Sitting on the granite boulders, took me back to my childhood, even as an adult they are BIG!

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Another little gladdening of my heart was when I chanced upon this Eggs and Bacon plant, they have always been a nostalgic favourite of mine.

I had completely forgotten about Glen Brook Dam, the water was crystal clear and calm, it was a soothing place.

Finally, we went to the Tavern to buy icecream and met some of the locals! A couple of the girls had joeys in their pouches, one pouch was firmly zipped up when I got too close, but the other allowed her baby to poke its head out and say hello, it was really special.

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That dominant (male) Boomer was not interested in us at all.

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Unlike this lady 🙂IMG_20180623_090247.jpg

The middle one of this group was licking the outside of her pouch and got me wondering if a tiny embryo was about to make its way up to it.

This video explains how they do it 

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Hello Baby!!!

 

It was a lovely day.

The Pursuit of Beauty (or why are we afraid to age?)

It is very easy to get caught up in the media hype of what is beautiful and how to age (without really doing so).

I have been thinking about this for some time; Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are exploding with videos, articles and hints on how not to age, or how to hide ageing so it looks like it’s not happening cdb07eb6c8f0e83cb57a5511a8bdda55--makeup-mistakes-look-older

I have an age spot…on my face (shock, horror) and more coming. I live in Australia, my parents were migrants from Europe, there was never too much sun and only the redheads wore any sun protection; so it’s not surprising that at the age of 55, my skin is starting to show the result of this abusive past. My best friend wants to book a session for some “work” and has invited me to have some work done too… do I need it? Do I want it?? age spot (not me)

TBH, a little voice in my head is saying to go and do it, the age spot is not small, although it’s not too dark at the moment and it’s on the side so I can ignore it quite successfully 🙂

But, I know I would feel good if it wasn’t there…

My arms, back and decolletage are all peppered with freckles and moles (and curiously loss of pigment in certain spots). My skin is just one part of me, I think I look okay most of the time (hey, we all have our off days!).

My main issue is that I am trying to be happy with myself. What am I telling my children when I have stuff done to my face? That the pursuit of perfection is ongoing and that contentment with oneself is unattainable? This is not the message I want them to absorb!

I am carrying too much weight, I have mentioned this before. I think I have reverted to the shape I am meant to be, in some ways my body shape has gone back to when I was a little girl. I spent 40 years slim and envied, I never thought about my weight or what I ate, I lived my life, had babies and a career, my body has served me well. Now I am healthy.  I have done circuit training, boot camp, weight lifting, jogging etc etc with little effect except spectacular muscle definition. My blood pressure is fantastic, my cholesterol is okay, my blood sugars are fine. I am active and apart from a nurses back (with its sequelae) I am in okay shape, I am just too heavy- but who decided that? I have often said I have a Germanic build, lots of upper body strength (just perfect for digging in the fields) and I am quite similar to about half of my Dutch cousins (the other half are slim and tall). Maybe, this is the weight I am supposed to be?

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I am the shape  between 24.9 and 30 on this picture and it doesn’t alter much no matter how much exercise I do! So I continue to strive for contentment. I probably won’t get the stuff done to my face,  are always other things I would rather spend my money on (like fabric, sewing machines, sheet music, cycling gear……sigh)

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