Tuesday, May 25, 2010

He's Home

I just heard from my daughter, my grandson is home from hospital and doing well.

She, on the other hand, is exhausted. She'll sleep well tonight - and so will I.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Good News

My grandson Daniel, aged 10 will hopefully be allowed to leave hospital tomorrow.
He is a very lucky boy as when they opened him up on Saturday his appendix was actually gangrenous and at the point of bursting! He didn't get back to the ward until 11pm that night and wasn't impressed when they woke him at 6am on Sunday.
There was still some concern on Sunday as his temperature was still rising but they gave him continuing antibiotics. Despite not eating since Friday night, and feeling very hungry, he was still unable to keep even half a jelly in his tummy.
I have just heard from my daughter that he is much better today, eating and walking so hopefully he will be able to go home tomorrow.
The Women's & Children's Hospital in Adelaide certainly has my eternal gratitude, that's for sure.
Daniel is looking forward to the pancakes at McDonalds on his way home, as promised by Mum. And getting back to football, but that won't be for a couple of weeks.
I feel like a huge weight has just been lifted from my shoulders and a bit teary, all at the same time. I shouldn't be surprised, I always cried when I watched the Telstra commercials about phoning home!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Please cancel the weekend or Distance sucks

When you receive a phone call at 7am on a Friday morning you know that it is not going to be good news. Yesterday (Friday) I got that call and yes it was the worst news. My sister had died in the UK. It was unexpected, I hadn't known that she was ill. In fact she had been admitted to hospital with a chest infection but then they had found the cancer. The secondary in her liver and the primary in her oesophagus. They didn't give her a time limit so she persuaded the hospital to let her go home. Once home, her son Bryn gave her what she wanted which was a glass of sherry and a cigarette. He said she had a smile that filled her face.
Then on Sunday she started to fade and when she fell asleep on the Monday she never woke up again. She died, in peace, on Tuesday night with her family around. I think she decided that enough was enough and she certainly didn't want to go back to hospital. She has always been incredibly independent and strong-willed. But I wasn't there and I haven't seen her for over twenty years, only talking on the phone and letters. My sister was twenty years older than me and had migrated to Canada from the UK when I was only three. But when she returned home after her marriage break up I was seventeen and I got to know and love her for the three years before I left for Australia. Every holiday we would catch up and she became a best friend, who shared my history.
But now she's gone and I can't go there as it's so far and soooo expensive, and she's not there anyway. Distance sucks.
I carried on with my day as planned and took two friends to meet another and have lunch together, and it helped. When death occurs on the other side of the world there is nothing that you can do, except carry on. My friends were unaware of the phone call, I couldn't talk about it at that stage.
But then I had to call my daughters and tell them last night. That was hard, very hard.
Today the son of one of my daughters is now waiting to go into surgery to have his appendix removed. And I'm not there. It was also unexpected.
Distance sucks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Will I ever have clean nails again?

There are thirteen butternut pumpkins and over 25 kilos of spuds in that wheelbarrow (in the wheat bag). There is a mixture of Pink Eyes and Dutch Creams which are two of my favourites. I dug them out of the potato patch that M had created earlier in the year and oh my aching back! And thighs! And knees! I really am out of condition, I could barely lift the sack into the wheelbarrow. They have all been transferred into hessian sacks now and are hanging out with my sack of Jerusalem artichokes in the tiny laundry.

Then I decided it was time to pull the last of the beans out as there are no more flowers or beans to be seen. In their place I have planted over sixty garlic cloves, Tasmanian purple garlic, which I think is just the best. And oh my aching back, and thighs, and knees! I have also put some kale in the next bed with my usual tonic water bottles covering them because of the risk of frost. I put a garden net over the spot with the garlic, hoping that it will persuade the cat that it is not a giant toilet especially prepared for him!

My broccoli is forming heads very nicely and the savoy cabbages and English spinach are slowly coming on, as are the broad beans.

I did think that I would try and grow one tomato plant in my tiny hothouse as I have some Siberian seeds, but the cat has taken to sleeping in the bottom as it's so warm and snuggly in there! But I think that I am going to be firm with him and at least give it a go.

In the kitchen I have been baking different things for M's morning tea - sorry, coffee. My last creation was a carrot, raisin and pecan loaf but it was more cakey really. I must say that even I was impressed with it and will certainly make it again. The recipe was from my "Eat Well, Live Well, recipe book so I felt very satisfied when M liked it too.

On Saturday I had a smoked ham hock so I made a lovely lentil soup with it. It was so filling and there's an ice cream container of the leftovers still in the fridge for lunches. M is big on leftovers for lunch, which is good as it saves on bread etc. Today he had leftover spaghetti marinara but I don't think there were too many prawns or mussels left in the sauce!
And forgive me for this update but my farmer friend was right about the girls - or Thelma was giving Ron a piggy back.................

Not chooks again!

I know - I'm sounding just slightly obsessed with chickens. But check out the photo, there's four - well my usual three girls and then there's
Ron the Rooster. Ron is on trial for a couple of weeks to see if he can curtail the girls' trips to the road.
He arrived on Saturday, late afternoon, quite unceremoniously in a sack. My farmer friend thinks that he'll sort the girls out and that they'll be overcome by his good looks and just follow him around.
Well, have I got news for him! Sure, Lulu is very happy as she now has a new friend who will hang out with her. But the two layers, Eddie and Thelma were NOT impressed. Thelma decided to take him on there and then. Wrong. He got the better of her straight away and now she will defer to him. But Eddie, the matriarch, the white leghorn, she put him in his place and chased him around the chook shed until he jumped up onto the shelf at the back.
The next day Eddie was still having the odd peck at him and there were no eggs to be seen. So I decided to let them all out and observe how they reacted outside. This was at noon, no Terry in sight. Eddie took off to her favourite spot and the other girls followed whilst Ron just looked a bit lost. I shooed him up with the girls and kept an eye on them whilst I was pulling up potatoes in the back paddock.
Poor Ron, every time he found a choice morsel Eddie would come over and muscle him away and eat it herself. Later I found them all down on the driveway, heading off to the coffee shop no doubt! And Ron, well he was following them, not leading at all. He has a lot to learn. When it was time to go back into the shed Thelma decided that she wasn't ready and there was no rounding up by Ron at all which meant I had to perform the mad chook woman dance yet again.
At night I found the three girls all squashed up together on top of the nesting box (which they have never used) with Ron lower down on the shelf on his own. Talk about pecking order.
But the really exciting part of all this is that when I went in to collect the eggs this morning, there were three, two brown ones and a white. So if nothing else has happened, at least Ron has affected Lulu's hormones and finally encouraged her to lay her first egg.
My farmer friend has warned me that the girls might become - slightly wanton, a bit tarty, flirtatious even, and I do hope that I'm around if that ever happens to Eddie. But I think that Ron has a loooong way to go before that occurs!
I'll keep you informed .........

Sunday, May 9, 2010

what's that in the chook shed?

No pictures today - I didn't have my camera handy.
I went up to say good morning to the girls today and encourage them to lay some eggs. Terry was with me so I wasn't going to let them out so early anyway. I was about to go in and check for eggs when I noticed a body - curled up on the straw at the back, not moving. I couldn't see what it was and decided that I would call M in case it was a rat ugh! But it didn't look like a rat or a bandicoot.
So back down to the house I went and calmly asked if M could spare some time from making breakfast to come and have a look. We got an old sack from the shed and in he went - and it woke up - it was a kitten, fast asleep on the straw!
As M approached it, the kitten dashed to the corner of the shed where there is a tiny gap and squeezed himself through and then Terry was on the chase!
We have a lot of feral cats/kittens around the place and it really annoys me that people are not more responsible with their animals. We have a cat, Fiddle, who is actually my son's cat and he is de-sexed, micro-chipped, tattooed and wears a collar with two bells.
We have an elderly woman living close to our back fence area and we know that she feeds the feral cats, who then breed and so it goes.
And the kitten in the shed - well it got away - this time........

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Signs of Winter Coming

You all thought that it would be a picture of golden red leaves or cabbages growing in the garden didn't you? Well here in southern Tasmania when you have to bring the washing in from the line at 4pm, because you know it won't get any drier outside, you know that summer has gone and autumn is only just hanging in there!
And check out the clothes! Thick socks, singlets and long pants. It only seems like last week I was wearing long shorts and thongs. These are M's work clothes but all the same it seems to have happened overnight, and I'm not ready yet!
The last few days have been very cool and slightly soggy, which means wet feet when you walk through the long grass. It also means that the grass itself is growing and growing. The reprieve is over, the lawn mower has to come out more regularly for a time. The thought of kneeling on the ground to plant seedlings loses it's fascination and there's no more tomatoes or strawberries to eat whilst working outside.
On the positive side it does mean that on really, really bad days there's a perfect excuse to stay inside the warm kitchen and chat and drink tea with friends; or read a book in time for book group later in the week or as a very sensible and favourite friend says "eat chocolate by the fire".
It also means that we eat earlier in the evening which is much better for your body after all. The bedroom isn't too warm anymore and it's actually pleasant to snuggle down under the doona. (I won't say anything about getting out of it in the morning).
But it is early days yet and M and I both know that by mid-August we will be "so over" the cold and soggy weather that we have decided that we will escape for two weeks together to the warmer areas of Australia. After all, in the ten years that we have been together we have never had a holiday together. We've had the visits to family interstate and Womad a couple of years ago, but never a holiday for just us two. So bring it on, we have a plan........

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Home on the Range

At the beginning I said that the girls were very slow to adventure out of the chook shed. Well, that has certainly changed!
We don't have a front fence as we have a very wide and long block. There are still places that the girls haven't checked out, there's so much land.
But yesterday, they'd been outside for a couple of hours and I had had to chase them out of next door's front garden back to the top paddock. Luckily there isn't anybody living in the house at the moment otherwise they would have thought that there was a mad woman cavorting about calling chook, chook, chook. Anyway adventure over (I thought).
But later as I was in the kitchen about to prepare Osso Bucco, I glanced out of the window and there they all were - on the pavement. It almost looked like they were deciding whether to head on down to the beach or to go up the road to the corner bakery and grab a coffee! So, once again, I dashed out and did my "woman losing the plot" routine until they were back in the top, under the old oak tree, which used to be their favourite spot.
So what do I do? I can't keep checking and chasing all the time. I like the idea of them being out and enjoying the freedom but we really can't afford to put a fence up. Our farmer friend has said that a rooster would keep them in check but I have avoided a rooster as I don't sleep easily at the best of times but I'm sorely tempted.
I would appreciate any tips or comments on the keeping of roosters. Meanwhile I have to go and open Peckingham Palace for today.