Monday, January 30, 2012

mind games...the dementia lottery

I went to Newcastle on Friday to take my mum to her first appointment with the geriatrician. Some of you may know that dad has been diagnosed with dementia (in the mild category thankfully, at least so far) and my sister and I have had some concerns about our mum, especially since her surgery.
The good news is that mum only has “mild cognitive impairment” on the clinical dementia rating scale but there is a 50/50 chance of ‘crossing the line’ and joining dad within the next 12 months. Worrying, and she will be closely monitored by her doctor, but let’s take the glass half full view at this stage and hope for the best J
I suspect that in the next few years I am going to learn a lot about dementia. In a delightfully ironic twist, I have been doing some strategic planning work with people involved in dementia training for the health profession, so I have access to a mountain of information when I need it! 
Parents get old (if we’re lucky) and time and age can dull their senses and lessen their mobility. That’s normal. I am beginning to see firsthand that old truism about the parent becoming the child, and vice versa. This doesn’t bother me. In many ways I see it as an opportunity to repay my parents, to look after them as they’ve looked after me. As best I can at least. For the problem is this: I left home at 17 and I’ve never lived in my home town since. I've never lived closer than I do now. My holidays haven’t been spent in Newcastle, or rarely, so extended periods of time with my parents have been few and far between. Filling out the questionnaire at the doctor’s surgery was difficult. The checklist about changes noticed over the last 10 years was much easier to answer than what’s the last week been like? The simple answer is I’m not sure. There is only so much that a phone call or reports from neighbours and family who live closer can tell you about what’s really happening. And with a five hour road trip each way, weekly visits are simply not possible...not without me ‘running on empty’ (which was playing on the CD as I made the last trip!)  My sister lives in Perth, much, much further away than Canberra. We are faced with the ‘tyranny of distance’ in a very big way.
We have done what we can to put all the possible services in place to assist. The geriatrician knows where to find me and I'll be copied in to all correspondence. Power of attorney and enduring guardianship papers are being filled in. They are still very capable of looking after themselves at home (mum especially) but this will obviously get worse over time.
Does anyone have any experience with looking after parents who don’t live close by? Can you give me some tips, some strategies to make it seem a little more manageable? I’m open to suggestions!  And surprise,, they won’t move!

p.s. they'll turn 83 and 88 in a few months...they look good for their age don't they!

Friday, January 27, 2012


I have to confess that I don't have very much to say today. I'm on the highway to Newcastle again, and if the weather forecast is correct, the windscreen wipers will be on. I'll be listening to Radio National or singing along to something in the CD player. You can do that when you drive alone. You can even sing along to John Denver : )
But it occurred to me, while thinking what I might write about, that there are some of you who might be new to the townhouse who haven't had the dubious pleasure of 'meeting' Buffy...or as we ever so affectionately call her around here...the vampire slayer. I took a couple of snaps of her last night as she was enjoying a little breeze that had blown in to the courtyard garden. I have no idea how she gets up on top of that wall because it's all she can do to haul herself on to the sofa these days. But I thought she looked...well, tranquil : )
And I can assure you...that doesn't happen very often! She does need a new collar though. It's letting down the beautiful bling tag that Rachael bought her. I'd better get on to that.
It was Australia Day yesterday. I read a book. Perfect.
Have a lovely weekend won't you? 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

top ten pictures from the week ~ 25 Jan 2012

Well, the holidays are done and dusted
And work’s back with a vengeance
it's crazy busy...the kind of busy I'm not fond of
I went to my first 'boot camp' session with the young 'uns at work yesterday
 I'll probably be regretting that by the time you're reading this
but I desperately need to do some exercise
and try to get this body into some sort of non-potato sack like shape
Another flying (as in driving to the speed limit of course) trip to Newcastle on friday, or maybe thursday
to take mum to the geriatrician on saturday
life's a barrel full of monkeys at the moment!
anyway, enough of are you all going?

Monday, January 23, 2012

tassie highlights...last one (promise)

You’ve been very patient with my holiday snaps, and kind with your comments...thank you.
This is the last Tassie post I promise...cross my heart J
They’ve come in no particular who knows me would be surprised by that, so today we have Port Arthur and Battery Point.
Port Arthur is a place teeming with ghosts and ghastly stories. The tour guides try to downplay it, and that seems fair to me. After the awful events of April 1996 when Martin Bryant gunned down 35 people, both tourists and site workers, you can hardly blame people for wanting to emphasise the reformist aspects of this historic place. It was a penal colony, a place of incarceration for men and boys, designed to practice a new 'enlightened' view of imprisonment on the most difficult of the convicts from other parts of Australia.  Almost inescapable due to its geography, only a very small number actually made it out. Despite its history, or perhaps because of it, I was captivated by its physical beauty. I hadn’t expected that.
And  because I know you love a house shot or four J 
Who knew black coral was a popular decor item in the 1800s?
And the kitchen in the commandant's house....cosy and comfy don't you think. What must the prisoners have thought about a lovely home just metres away? Fabulous faded wall mural and embroidered curtain coming up...
I want to buy a house in Battery Point. Excuse me while I dash off to buy a lottery ticket!
Ok, that's probably a Tassie overload...I might post some more photos on my facebook page later in the week, just in case you're suffering from withdrawal. And as I'm unlikely to be holidaying again any time soon you're probably safe for a while J
memorial to the 1996 tragedy
all images: a tranquil townhouse

Friday, January 20, 2012

tassie highlights...last one (almost) and a request

I'm drafting this on Thursday night; I can hear the Australian Open tennis on the tv in the living room. Lleyton's behind in the first set and already this holiday feels like it happened so long ago.  I wasn't ready to go back to work on Wednesday, but was even less ready for the funeral I had to attend that afternoon. Rudi, a very lovely man, husband to an extraordinary and equally lovely woman Kirsty, was lost to cancer at only 45. Not at all fair. So, I'm probably not in the best frame of mind for blog posting, but I reckon I can manage some more pretty pictures of Tassie J
I was going to say 'historic' Richmond, but that pretty much describes everything in Tasmania! The weather wasn't kind to us that day...even the ducks were sheltering under the picnic tables.
Pooley Wines:
Incredibly beautiful property (look, the vineyard cat even matched) , lovely people (in fact I think everyone in Tassie is lovely) and the Sparkling Pinot wasn't bad either!
Pirates Bay:
The middle picture is a part of the bay called the Tessellated Pavement. I recorded a lovely little movie on my camera of the waves coming in over the rocks. It's very peaceful but I can't work out how to put it on here so that it's not at 90 degrees, i.e. you have to be horizontal to watch it! It's probably not the right time for a lie-down so never mind L
Yep, good old Aussie 'something or other'...not quite sure what!  Doo-Google know you want to. I had to bring home a postcard of course. 
Lleyton's lost the first set to Andy Roddick but is ahead in the second. 
And you know what...I think I'm going to stop here...I've run out of puff!  Port Arthur and Battery Point will have to wait for another day. And then that will be it, I promise!
Well, who would have thought...the match is at a set each!
early morning update: poor Andy had to retire hurt. Lleyton was gracious and I'm off to the first friday morning breakfast of the year with the girls.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend. While you're doing your weekend things, sharing the mundane or the marvellous with people you love, could you please stop for a little moment and say a quiet prayer for my courageous friend Kirsty...that would be lovely if you could.
all images: a tranquil townhouse

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

tassie highlights...things starting with F

By this I mean: friends, food, ferns and falls...let me elaborate...
One of the wonderful things about blogging is you get to 'know' people from all over the place. And if you're lucky, you get to meet them for real J
Such was the case last Wednesday night when I had dinner with Sarah from Molly's Maison and Jane from Life on Planet Baby. Here we are looking surprisingly presentable after a few bottles of wine, lovely Thai food and a great deal of conversation. Jane's car got locked in the carpark we yacked for so long!
And even better, Richard and I were invited to their homes on Saturday that I consider a real privilege. Beautiful pastries made by Jane and India for afternoon tea, and champagne at Sarah's...spoiled rotten we were. I wanted to take photos of their houses but thought that would be stretching the friendship a bit far! Just go to their blogs for that ok?
And then there are furry friends.  I had no hesitation in taking photos of the famous Molly in her natural habitat!  I'm not a dog person at all really, but I've fallen in love with Molly...well honestly, who wouldn't. Just look at her J
The day before this we'd headed off on a bit of a drive and ended up at Russell Falls in the Mt Field National Park. This place was stunning, really serene, and the oldest national park in Tasmania. We didn't have the best weather while we were in Hobart (and yet today it's going to be 36!) so it was quite cool but that didn't matter at all. I'm a bit fascinated by ferns...and moss apparently!
And the food...oh the food! Several kilos later...thanks in part to these delicious things. Without doubt, without a shadow of a doubt in fact, the raspberry danish you can see behind the chocolate thingies was the BEST Danish I have ever tasted.
From this place...
And then there were the oysters! From the Barilla Bay Oyster Farm, a saturday lunch of 30 assorted oysters (for $39...I thought that was really good value) and a wonderful ploughman's lunch that Richard got to before I could take a think he'd know about bloggers and photo opportunities by now wouldn't you! And as an added bonus, a view over the bay and a glass of Tasmanian wine. Bliss.
The produce at the Salamanca Markets on Saturday morning was also brilliant. We were going home the next day so didn't get to sample any of it, but doesn't it look amazing...all those jewel colours?
And just because I can, I'm going to finish off this post with alpacas. They're furry. They're funny. That fits with the theme right J
all images: a tranquil townhouse

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

tassie highlights...MONA

Well. That holiday went in the blink of an eye!  Despite the fact that I’ve lived in a lot of places, and travelled to more than my fair share...I had never been to Tasmania before last week. I know, I can’t believe it either, or how I could possibly have left it so long!
We had the most wonderful time, spending most of the week in Hobart but getting out and about on day trips as well.  I have taken eleventy seven million photos (almost) and there’s no way they’re all going in one post, so just consider this Tassie highlights No. 1.
MONA ~ theMuseum of Old and New Art. I defy anyone not to be impressed by this place (although I was told by several people that there was a letter to the Editor of the Hobart Mercury demanding it be closed because of its depravity or debauchery or any number of other D words!). 
From the sublime to the ridiculous, the bizarre to the brutal, this place is a bit of a shrine to individualism, to brave choices and in my view, an incredible gift to Australia (not just Hobart) although Hobartians, you can of course ‘own’ it all for yourselves J It is without doubt, world class. Here are some of my favourite artworks...although, I'm sorry, the photos simply don't do them justice.
Richard and I rarely agree on things artistic, but we both thought that this next piece was the most wonderful in the collection ..."Sternenfall" by Anselm Keifer...
And the There are no descriptions next to any of the access all sorts of information through the iPod you're given on entry. 
Some of it is so irreverent..."art wank"...just enhancing the sense of the unexpected wherever you turn...what's not to love?
The spaces in this gallery are stunning. It is immense and jaw droppingly, breathtakingly good...
And you know what...even the shadows on the floor are amazing...
The outside is equally impressive...wonderful rust, reflections and a stunning setting. Hobart is truly one of the loveliest capital cities in the world.
And when you go...take the ferry. You must. And dress in black...of course.
This was also the day Richard taught me to take photos through a torn piece of paper! As you do.
Go to really, really must.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

top ten ~ 11 Jan 12...from Tassie!

Hi everyone...we're in Hobart
the diversion project
and loving it sick!
peep my style
We spent today at Mona
all fashion allowed
M.O.N.A.....Mona (sing it with me!)
design is mine
Can't help thinking of Lola whenever I say Mona
desire to inspire
Those of a certain age will get it I'm sure
desire to inspire
I've taken eleventy seven pictures today
and then some!
Deserving of a post of their own at some stage.
But for's the first top ten for the year!
And tonight I'm having dinner with Jane and Sarah...yippee :))
molly's maison
I'm a lucky blogger!
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