Breakthrough flash of insight!!

After having a dream last night that kept recurring in different forms, I’ve had a real breakthrough insight into what my depression is all about!! Amazing! Now this may be a real no-brainer to everyone else, BUT, I’ve discovered that [due to my upbringing] I know fuck-all about relationship maintenance!

My relationships become un-rewarding for me because I DON’T PROVIDE ANY RELATIONSHIP MAINTENANCE in the way of affection to my partners. I don’t put more than the slightest bit IN so I eventually find I’m getting nothing OUT. Gradually my poor bloke becomes more and more discouraged about his input efforts with me, ergo I feel the zip is gone and I shut down and get depressed.

Now I’ll have to set about being demonstrative and that will be difficult and may not work immediately, but it’s POSSIBLE, so I’ll give it a go.

Flash of insight

Flash of insight

How’s that? I feel quite proud of myself for sorting that one out after sixty years living in a black hole!


We need this program in Oz: Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions


Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions | Channel 4 goes mad | Documentary | Blog | Time To Change.

Reading the summary and readers’ comments on this British TV program from their Channel 4 made me think about how I am coping right now with my own head.

Crepe myrtle from L Street

Crepe myrtle from L Street

In the midst of a few physical health issues I’m not doing too badly. As the people in the above program and the commenters pointed out, I could do with some company and a  bit of real-life support. I feel a bit stigmatised as people don’t invite me to stuff. Now maybe they’ve just forgotten about me because I’m not around much or maybe I DO make them feel uncomfortable. That must be the difficulty about having a mental illness that doesn’t make you think or behave in  unexpected ways – you can never quite tell if a drop off in friends is just chance or if they’re deliberately avoiding you.

As I’ve said before, I never really feel lonely and I AM alone during working hours; I just feel the need for different environments and social input from different human beings. Now I can’t drive or walk to the bus stop, my lack of regular company apart from Spotrick and the cats has become more salient. What strategies could I use, apart from spending even more time on the Interwebs?!

It is a genuine dilemma in this age of new-fangled “molecular” drugs, that some seem to work very well during their first human trials, but we have to wait years to get them to the public.
Of course there is massive cost to consider in some cases, but I don’t know about eteplirsen. Public health advocates can have a terrible time deciding if a few people can have an expensive drug vs. a lot of people getting a cheap one. For instance, how many doses of polio vaccine would you trade for one of eteplirsen? These are the realities of government budgets. I wouldn’t like to do it, would you?


Health & Family

Austin and Max Leclaire are brothers. Austin is older, Max is younger. Like most siblings, they have many things in common and just as many that set them apart. For now, though, their strongest bond is over something they share — Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most common lethal genetic disorder among children. Duchenne’s hallmark is increasing muscle weakness that eventually makes it hard to breathe and confines kids to wheelchairs, which is where Austin finds himself these days. Now 14, he lost the ability to walk four years ago, a development that helps explain why the disease looks so different in the two brothers today.

Because Max, 11, was still able to put one foot in front of another in the summer of 2011, he was eligible to enroll in a drug trial for Eteplirsen, which is designed for children like the Leclaire brothers who have trouble producing a protein…

View original post 1,502 more words

Book Banquet 2012

Shai Coggins’ blog reminded me that I have read quite a pile of books this year that I should list, even if just for myself. If you have read any of these and have an opinion, please comment!

  1. Nonfiction. Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society Will Hutton. This book applies equally well to the Australian scene since the Global Financial Crisis and is a big influence on how I now view the political economy of public health.
  2. Nonfiction. David Harvey. The Enigma of Capital: and the Crises of Capitalism. This book was the basis of a pre-conference workshop on the Political Economy of Health before the international Public Health Association meeting in Adelaide in September 2012. It convinced me that I’m on the right track with my lack of capitalism in its present form ever leading to fairness in the distribution of resources compatible with good health in a nation. All capitalism depends on gambling that the small amounts of money held by “lesser” people can be collected together by crooks on the stock market to increase the large amounts held by people who consider themselves “the bosses” of the rest of us. It can’t keep happening as eventually the poor run out of resources, get angry and disrupt the system, or the rich find there is little value in their cash because workers are not producing anything more for them to buy with it. They can then either stockpile wealth to absolutely no avail or start financing jobs for the unemployed so the economy can start moving again. Have I convinced you? Anyway, I could rave about this forever, knowing absolutely nothing about economics!
  3. Jo Nesbo The Redbreast. A horrific Scandinavian thriller, as are the next four.
  4. Jo Nesbo The Leopard
  5. Jo Nesbo The Devil’s Star
  6. Jo Nesbo The Snowman. These are so well-written I couldn’t put them down.
  7. Henning Mankell The Troubled Man. Detective Kurt Wallander has turned sixty and thinks he is succumbing to the dementia that ended his own father’s life. Meanwhile he is struggling to help solve the mystery of a murdered naval officer.
  8. Peter Hoeg The Quiet Girl. Odd but thrilling, with a young girl kept apart from others by an apparently obscure group of “nuns”, helped by a strange Bach-loving clown. There are touches of magical realism about the tale but it all hangs together in the end
  9. Camilla Läckberg The Ice Princess: The body of crime writer Erica Falck’s childhood friend is discovered, wrists slashed, in an ice cold bath. Was it murder or suicide? The investigation leads her to a community on the brink of tragedy.
  10. Camilla Läckberg The Preacher: Twenty years ago, two young women disappeared in Fjällbacka – now their remains are found, along with a new victim. As Patrik Hedström works to solve these murders, do the dark secrets of a local family hold the key?
  11. Camilla Läckberg The Stonecutter: When a little girl is found in a fisherman’s net, the police realize it was no accidental drowning. Patrik Hedström investigates the death of a child both he and Erica knew well.
  12. Hakan Nesser – but can’t remember the title- think it’s different in Australia than the USA. But it’s another crime thriller.
  13. Yrsa Sigurdardottir Last Rituals Set in Reykjavík, this thriller concerns the murder of a student who appears to have odd symbols carved into his chest linked to ancient folk tales.
  14. Martin Walker Black Diamond. Policeman “Bruno” Benoit Couregges is on the trail of truffle merchants who are rigging the price of their expensive finds in French provincial markets.
  15. Martin Walker  The Crowded Grave. I loved the description of the French countryside in this mystery about a modern murder victim concealed at an archeological dig against the suspicion of local cross-border terrorism.
  16. Non-fiction. Ted Nield Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet. About the history of the major tectonic plates that cover the earth and how we can see the ancient links between them by matching the minerals and landforms at the break-apart sites.
  17. Non-fiction. Simon Winchester Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms & a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. I skipped most of the battles etc. & concentrated on the accounts of how the Atlantic is being widened by the upwelling of volcanoes along the mid-continental ridge and the currents that carry whole species to unusual destinations on its shores.
  18. Nonfiction. Richard Dawkins. The Ancestors’ Tale. This gave me a really clear view of evolution by tracing the origins of all living species back to where they branched off from their closest genetic relative on the evolutionary tree. The explanations for the sometimes bizarre separations of different species or varieties of animals and plants from each other by geological changes, such as continental drift and tectonic plates and climate change are quite revelatory as well. One of the best books on genetic evolution I’ve ever read- much better than all the ones that start with a single cell and come from past to present!
  19. Geraldine Brooks Caleb’s Crossing. The Pulitzer Prize Winner’s novel of early America- Caleb is the first Native American to attend Harvard University, after being brought up quite traditionally on the site of modern day Martha’s Vineyard.
  20.  Lars Kepler The Nightmare. Detective Inspector Joona Linna investigates the recovery of a young woman’s body from an abandoned yacht drifting around the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, and the forensics team is sure that she drowned. Why, then, is the pleasure boat still afloat, and why are there no traces of water on her clothes or body? The story involves international conspiracy and crime on a horrific scale, not easily relatable to the original death.

You can see by this selection that I’m a great fan of modern Scandinavian crime fiction, the history of the planet and the relationship of economics to health- what a weird mix  eh?! What’s your mix look like?


Day 18 NaBloPoMo: I’m with Michael Moore

Anyone who hasn’t seen Michael Moore’s ‘Capitalism: A love story’ should stop right now, go out and get it! And if you haven’t seen his ‘Sicko’- you need a good smack!


I have long held a lot of the ideas Michael Moore puts across in his documentaries and it doesn’t win me a lot of friends, but a nice small and strong group of fiends- fiends for fairness and real democracy! How many people wouldn’t like a country where the rich and lucky happily give up some of their cash and privileges so the majority can have the basics as their right? How have Australians come to live in a country, once known as ‘the land of the free’, that pays bank chiefs $10 m salaries for them to charge people with no income like me huge fees just to have a bank account. On the other hand it hands out cheap housing loans and Platinum Visa cards to medical and dental graduates as soon as they’re out the university’s door! This is NOT democracy!


We’ve seen how traditionally respected, highly skilled and valuable jobs such as airline pilot have been down-graded so much in the USA that I wouldn’t be game to board an American plane. I know Australian airline pilots are still paid very well (well, not at this minute, but generally)- and they work long hours, keep fit and healthy, endure long and exhausting medical check-ups, have to work very long hours while highly vigilant, are trusted with the lives of hundreds of people per flight and must project a calm and non-combative image even while dealing with emergencies. I expect them to earn more than a production-line worker at a car factory- but in the USA, the factory worker may earn more than the pilot!


What troubles me now, having seen Michael Moore’s doco is that the situation in Australia is apparently catching up with the misery of the American majority. The massive number of mortgage foreclosures in the USA is definitely being followed by a large increase in them in Australia, particularly amongst farmers.  There are also the people here who have been too long out of work, or who have had their wages and/or hours reduced so that they must sell their homes because they can’t meet the mortgage repayments. These poor people are hard-working and earnest- they deserve to own their own homes, but they are being forced to move out and rent, in an already overloaded rental market.


As I said in a previous blog post, there is a huge gap in affordability between the people on low incomes or the dole and the rents demanded for supposedly expensive properties. The rents are expensive because the properties are owned by other people who are paying off the high mortgages on them while trying to collect a bit extra on the rent. When a single person can only afford to rent a room in a boarding house and consequently have no possessions (or they would have to rent storage space in the hope they could acquire a home in the future to place them in), there is a serious and widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. I don’t like it at all, and I constantly see myself, in my mind’s eye, as one of these people who have sunk towards the bottom in these unfair economic times. How would you like it if you suddenly had no income, or just the minimum, after many years on a salary, yet you still had to pay your share of a contemporary mortgage? Rents are appalling for anything other than grungey old houses with bad wiring in less-than-attractive areas. Families on the dole, with kids at school, can barely afford a roof over their heads if they are not in public housing. In many families, kids will grow up and leave home while their parents try to pull themselves out of their economic woes to acquire a house that is in good condition, with enough room for all of them. I know there are now second and third generation unemployed families where the social order has broken down and they are trashing their public housing because they don’t care any more. Their kids don’t see any value in education- what good did it do their parents?- so they drop out of school. Then they aren’t even in the running for the small number of scholarships to tertiary institutions because education is no longer free in Australia, as it was when I started university.


I am still hearing that the US government has not wrested the health system from the grip of private insurance companies, as they said they would when Obama came to power. Although they said that everyone will be covered for basic health care, there are still all those insurance companies able to collect fees from private citizens and thus will charge a decent amount extra so they can pay their own employees and shareholders. If the government covered everyone for the basics the administration would take far less of the money than through thousands of companies in private hands. Australia still has full cover of the health essentials but the insurance companies are also guaranteed an income because they have made EXTRA insurance compulsory here (or else you have to pay a higher percentage of your tax for health- suits me).


What Barack Obama said first up:

“Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans…”


I think Australia is almost as crazy as America for this- the government “subsidises” people for part of their private health insurance (so it is partly paying for them) while it takes more from the poorer people who can’t afford the private premiums! Nutso! That’s not democratic!


Anyway, as Spotrick just said to me- I’ll have to stop midstream as I’m becoming too angry to go to bed!


Some people think I am a real commie for my views on what a democratic government ought to be able to do for it’s citizens, but I don’t really believe in public ownership of everything- like China and Russia used to enforce. I only believe in equalising the benefits able to be accessed by both the rich and the poor through the government taking some control over incomes and prices in limited areas. Many of my acquaintances don’t think the rich should in effect subsidise the poor- they want the poor to “work just as hard as me and get the same rewards”. My view is that we are a society where we play our parts and shouldn’t expect to be “greedy” and keep all our own income for ourselves when confronted with others who are just not as lucky- whether in health, education or cash. A society just won’t work where there is a big divide. They won’t start the revolution without me- that’s a promise!

Day 15 NaBloPoMo: Seeking asylum in Oz

We just came back from a pub where we had the Wednesday $12 steaks, which were pretty good, although not the tastiest. Naturally, as we were eating, the topic of the latest asylum seekers came up. <img width=”200″ src=”*9WGAGJ8t*QBtMh2k-X-XYYj28OeobBEvNyoXw5*-28vji7FlBBUc0/ChrisIs.jpg?width=200″ style=”padding: 5px;” />

It was horrifying when they announced today that a boatload of women and children had smashed onto rocks on Christmas Island while trying to land during a storm. Spotrick had pointed out how thick and cyclonic the weather looked on the satellite map just this morning. These poor people had travelled thousands of kilometers, mainly over land, to have their hopes dashed and possibly half their lives taken, without quite reaching the land of their dreams.

You can see the flimsy boat and wild seas in this piece from an Australian report.

Inevitably, one of the people at the table asked why these asylum-seekers had not arrived by aeroplane, rather than via a smugglers boat from Indonesia. This is an ongoing topic here- if you arrive by air and have fake papers, you can immediately ask for asylum. You can then receive a temporary Visa and make your way into the Australian community- all according to international law. You don’t get any money to live on or anywhere to live- but you get the visa. Our friend always says this and I say the same in reply as well- these poor women and children couldn’t buy a ticket to Australia from Iran or Iraq; they come mainly from small towns, many unfamiliar with air travel, let alone to countries they have little knowledge of. All they know is that they want to get away from the constant threat they feel they are living under- they escape across a border, people hide them, feed them and send them on; maybe they are packed into a container or truck, or bundled onto a freight train to travel through unknown regions, meeting people they cannot understand. Eventually they arrive in India or Sri Lanka and discover there are men there who will get them to Australia if they can pay all the money they have. They may be lucky enough to get on the first boat they meet, but mostly they will be sent from pillar to post, living in primitive conditions and not knowing where their next meal is coming from. At last they all board a miserable looking fishing boat, captained by some down and out fisherman who needs the money, because his fishing grounds are not yielding any more, or he usually fishes illegally in Australian waters and the patrols are fierce that week.

It must be extremely anxiety provoking for the Iraqi and Iranian women, who don’t know how to swim, placing the lives of their precious children in the hands of some scruffy fisherman on his raggedy boat- but they do it with hopes for a secure future in that lovely empty land in the sun, Australia.

Unfortunately, distant conflicts bring desperate people to Australia. Some of them have heard about the country via relatives who have come here legally as part of an annual migrant quota or illegally at first, then granted asylum and gaining citizenship. Evidently Australia sounds rather attractive- there is no religious or regional conflict here, apparently most of the people are middle class and friendly and we have a democracy and an army that does not police the local community. What asylum seekers don’t know is that although Australia is huge, its 20 million people live in very small areas within the country where there is sufficient water (or there used to be) and where communities have been growing quite slowly over the years. They don’t know that Australia has its own poor people who are fully or partially dependent on the State for income and housing. They also don’t realize that our health and social services are linked to our taxation system, so that they can only provide enough largesse to cope with the numbers of people who are already reliant on them locally- we haven’t got the income or tax basis to cater for a lot more people at the same standards.

Some Australians are very hostile towards asylum seekers because they perceive them as Muslim hoards, representing the likes of Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and the Twin Towers atrocity. Obviously this is rather frightening for some people- you can hardly blame them when THEY don’t have the full picture either. However, most Australians are fairly willing to welcome newcomers, regardless of neither where they came from nor how they arrived. We find that as long as new migrants are friendly and curious, they are just as welcome as our friends and relatives who might visit from overseas. In my university classes this year, there were far more students from overseas (more than 50% Muslims) than there were Australians! Yet our lecturers said we were one of the best and most involved groups they had ever taught! So our section of the population seems to be able to live and co operate with non-Australians quite usefully.

Given that we probably welcome foreigners quite easily compared with many other countries, why am I still apprehensive about the continuous small stream of asylum seekers arriving offshore at Christmas Island and along our Northern coastline? I worry because I know that Australia is struggling to provide housing, appropriate utilities (like electricity and water supplies), health care and social welfare benefits to the Australians who are already living here. Migrants never seem to be told that public housing applicants might have to wait 10 to 15 years for a suitable dwelling to become available- hardly any new ones are built, compared with the numbers of needy people. Also, our rentals are starting to become quite expensive and are certainly out of the range of affordability for someone on the dole (unemployment or disability allowance, aged pension or supporting parents’ payment). My friends who arrived at my front door homeless last year had tried to obtain public housing or some assistance with paying the rent for private accommodation. One was on the dole and her daughter was waiting out a qualifying period after being sacked from her job as a miner. They were rejected completely from putting their names on the list for public housing because there were no children less than 18 years involved. When they sought out private rentals they discovered that they could only be subsidized to live in a dwelling that cost only $70 per person per week; over that price and they couldn’t get a cent!

The harsh reality is that people who arrive with nothing and no job don’t get a good deal in Australia at all. Sure- if you are genuinely ill, you can go to any doctor or hospital and you will be treated and you will NOT be given a bill. However, if everybody and his great grandmother goes expecting the same treatment, the system can’t cope and falls apart. Then everyone complains that the government they voted for isn’t doing what it promised, they throw it out, and then get a worse deal from the next lot who don’t know how to make good the promises once they see the state of the economy!

The situation with utilities has been getting quite serious over the last few years, especially water supplies in Southern Australia. There has been a drought for many years and several large cities have built desalination plants to extract fresh water from the sea, rather than relying on rain and reservoirs. South Australia is at the end of several thousand kilometers of slow-flowing rivers and gets very little rain. For many years the city of Adelaide (1 million people) has pumped water 80 km from the Murray River to fill reservoirs in the Hills just above the city. The reservoirs have reached very low levels at times, yet the river hasn’t been able to supply any more to top them up at the end of summer. We have been on severe water restrictions, causing the death of thousands of beautiful, big trees in public areas and uncounted numbers in private gardens. Most private gardens have withered and street trees became spindly and brown, houses have cracked because the ground has contracted and people have been putting as many water tanks onto their properties as they can afford- we haven’t got any!

So you can see that although we generally have a good reputation for taking in asylum seekers and integrating most of them into our society, there may come a time when that is no longer feasible. How long can Australian workers produce enough extra income to support both their own non-working family members, plus all the extra jobless living in the community and in migrant detention centres? I think it’s a crazy idea to try to deter asylum-seekers by “processing” them (ie. their claims for refugee status) off shore in Nauru, East Timor or Christmas Island. Asylum seekers don’t know anything about our local processes or ability to provide financially for additional people so it’s not going to “deter” them- they’re desperate and fear death or suffering in their own countries. They just want to live quiet lives, working hard in a decent job, providing for their families and taking their part in a community. They certainly don’t want to kill Australians or blow us up- they’re just people like us who have been placed in impossible life circumstances.

Can anyone find an acceptable solution for us all without cruelty to locals or migrants?


Day 7 NaBloPoMo: Quickie not following a prompt!

A few days ago I received a terrific surprise in the mail- an annual report on my World Vision Child in Haiti! She had survived the massive earthquake and problems afterwards. I hope she doesn’t get cholera- but her report said she was very healthy and hadn’t visited the doctor for anything other than a check-up.

Her name is Chrislove Dorce and she is 11 years old. She lives with her parents in a small tacked-together dwelling on a hillside with a tiny area of farm and some goats and chooks. She doesn’t do well at school and is repeating 3rd grade of primary school for the third time in 2011. She doesn’t look academic and never mentions books or enjoying school. I guess she is not the type, poor little thing. I don’t really see a rosy future for her, but she is alive, healthy and may change a lot before she becomes an adult. The French schooling system there is not very forgiving of children who don’t have good basic skills and logical thought- she starts at a disadvantage. However, I can’t go over there and offer her an alternative, just keep my fingers crossed she doesn’t get totally pissed off and leave before she can read a health warning sign!

The letter from her district office came just as I was becoming quite distressed over the currently-running World Vision ad on TV. I keep looking at the little boy- “Apilat” I think is his name, according to the big youngster narrating the ad. The poor little one needs sponsorship because he is malnourished, drinks dirty water, has malaria and often has diarrhoea. I hope the big boy is able to get a scholarship to enter teachers college as he wishes and that “Apilat” and his compatriots gain sponsors.

I can’t contribute more- my partner is already putting in my usual contribution because I have no job or regular income. If I had a job, I could sponsor another child, but that will have to wait.

Meanwhile- how about anyone who reads this post giving it some thought?? Any contribution is better than the possibility of one child suffering longer, in my opinion.


Where can I claim my reward?

As a sufferer from depression and pretty much unemployed for 2.5 years, I have been feeling a terrible lack of opportunity to be rewarded- either with money or something else I favour. People tell me (and I have started telling myself) not to WANT things. I really do have what I NEED for basic sustenance- sufficient food, a roof over my head, clothing, warmth, a partner, sex, 3 cats and friends. But despite telling myself to concentrate on how lucky I am (ie. think Haitian kids, one of whom I sponsor through World Vision), I have this terribly human trait of WANTING stuff/experiences/different stuff. Well now the people in the labs, those white-coated loonies of popular folklore, have discovered that our brains need enough of a particular substance to actually FEEL rewarded by anything. Not surprisingly, this substance is serotonin, the stuff that your neurons like to bathe in regularly, so you don’t feel depressed. These guys (along with a host of others) found that serotonin was the vital part of the brain’s REWARD system.
Now, how can we get more rewards? Do things and eat foods that increase the free-floating serotonin levels in the brain. There is a lot of bullshit, “natural”, nutrition and New Age claptrap around, but the truth seems to be that foods containing plenty of tryptophan (trip-to-fane) are the go. These are mostly tasty proteiny things like, lean red meat, turkey, chicken, nuts, cheese, beans and pulses (eg. lentils, chick peas). As part of a normal diet, we need to consume these with a little carbohydrate (which is hard to avoid, given the composition of most food)- the more complex ans slower to burn in our systems, the better. So- no added sugar, but good complex carbohydrates such as in vegetables, grainy breads and some fruits. Traditionally they say chocolate and bananas increase serotonin, but they’re better with some protein as part of a meal, not an EXTRA snack on the side! Appropriate fats are good too- mono-unsaturated oils like olive oil, omega 3 and 6 oils like fish oil/some nut oils, and recently some authorities have recommended pure cold-pressed coconut oil (which I find good). There seems to be little about dietary coconut oil, except as an antioxidant– by which the scientists mean that the components of coconut oil roam around our blood stream “scavenging” those things called “free radicals” which seem to age us and may play a role in the beginning of cancer. So even if the virgin coconut oil is not yet proven to help with depression and reward experiences, the mere thought that it’s doing you good may help anyway!
Now, I’m no medical authority, so don’t call me to account for this one, but there were recent reports that a pediatrician (children’s doctor) in the USA was treating her prematurely dementing husband with coconut oil and getting promising results. There is nothing in the conventional medical literature as yet, but I’m waiting with interest.
However, leaders in the field of cognition in ageing caution that there is no clear or longterm proof of the worthwhile use of various oils and other substances in slowing brain decline.

New Year’s Day 12 noon

Last night no alcohol- this morning, no hangover- yayy!! However, we had to get up early as Bridie and AJ were off to drive to Melbourne and subsequently Zeehan, Tasmania. Bridie has gone for a short but indefinite stay, summoned by her old friend Alan who needs company as he goes through the last stages of bone cancer- very sad. AJ has gone to drive the Jeep with caravan and dog in tow so Bridie has some accommodation at various times. AJ will fly back to the mainland in a few days to resume her uranium-mining job at Roxby Downs.
It has been a busy time having them stay 3 months, with one on the family room sofa and the other on a new chair sofa in the front room! We all thought they would only stay a few weeks originally but the job market was not very bright for either of them for a while. Now AJ has the mining job (after training to be both a heavy-rigid vehicle driver and a security guard) and Bridie has as much part-time work as she can handle with a “helping hand” agency looking after the disabled.
During this time I managed to complete a semester of my Masters in Public Health, although I had nowhere to study quietly and do my assignments- didn’t do quite as well as expected, but ended up with a Credit anyway.
My mood is a lot better than it was 3 months ago, although it took a few dives under the stress of coping with extra people in the house 24 hours a day! I know it was a big ask of myself to cope with house guests when I’m not wildly OK myself- but I could hardly leave them homeless- I would expect other people to look after me in a similar situation!
I think the cats will be relieved to have their humans back unaccompanied! Poor Moggsy has been extra shy about coming into the house for food- if she hears Bridie’s voice approaching while she’s feeding she runs and won’t return to finish her meal. Consequently she’s lost some weight- which isn’t all bad! Bendix adapted reasonably quickly but has been a little ratty at times- he was disappointed that Kevin was a dog and not a cat as he wanted to play with him on an equal basis! Moustiers thought Bridie and AJ ALWAYS lived here, and only haunted us in bed at night as she always did- why she couldn’t haunt AJ more often I don’t know!
Our back garden is somehow surviving the 40degC days, although the magnolia tree is burnt again and another cypress pine lost its top in a whippy breeze. The petunias are mostly OK in their pots and starting to flower, we have a pot tomato thriving, some chives and a few pigface ground covers. The cumquats are greener than last year, but not very healthy yet. I wish they’d come good- perhaps they need root pruning and larger pots?
The atrium plants are OK- tuberous begonias are starting to flower and the liliums have finished. the camellias seem to be withstanding the heat as long as we put the sprayers on often to keep the air moist. I bought some colourful resin pots from Ikea but haven’t managed to plant anything in them. They are supposed to be standing in 2 neat rows on the plant stand in the atrium so we have something colourful at eye level! Fingers crossed- I still have to drill holes in the bases for drainage.
So life goes on at Number 13 and we hope 2010 will be happier and healthier. I’ll put in a big wish for WEALTHIER! Greedy me- but I would like to go back to my old way of living with a minimum of money worry! I don’t want to live in luxury- especially the sort of thing that is publicised as “luxurious celebrity-style”- no gold taps for me- just let me pay the bills on time and go to the movies occasionally!

Boxing Day Reflections

Well, Christmas Day was very calm and cheerful, except right at the end when our worn out neighbour couldn’t really welcome us for a little party…the less said.
Now we’ve awoken to a gorgeous-loooking Boxing Day (promises of 27degC and no wind), and we’re mulling over all the worst things in the world!
First, our house guests had been to Evangeline’s old childhood friend’s for some Christmas dinner. Sounds OK, but it didn’t exactly work out- it turns out that this friend had been suffereing for many years with Parkinson’s Disease and Evangeline had given up cleaning her house for her every Christmas because things were just getting worse from year to year. Omitting the tales of two mentally challenged offspring (one a huge “oaf”) and one who is rather a sadistic father to his three year old, A-J and Evangeline were “welcomed” into a total cesspit of a house. Apparently there was rotting garbage and dirty clothes from wall to wall, such that the “dinner” was being served in the barren and neglected backyard. The man of the house was a long, skinny, haggard streak of misery, frozen into a similar state to his wife and completely oblivious to the impression the place created in his guests- or maybe ashamed??
I could go on forever about the failings of society as a whole, our health and social services system- but where will it get me. WHy can’t we live in a world where citizens can help a little in being responsible for their less fortunate neighbours, where the health system is funded to care and not to cut and where social services are provided by people with practical minds and tough hearts- not emotionally over-wrought do-gooders?
I wrote to the state’s Public Advocate about a similar situation where a 93-year old woman (blind, with maggots in a spider bite in her leg) was living alone in absolute squalor, having given up fighting her way to the outdoor toilet, which could only be reached by crossing a backyard strewn with palm fronds and other vegetable debris (and past a talking parrot in a tiny broken cage). I haven’t even received an acknowledgment- and this guy used to be a friend and colleague!
Why have we come to this, in our apparently “affluent”, “civilised” society- one of the highest AVERAGE standards of living in the world? We spend the money on fighter jets and Abrams tanks and make experienced and worldly older people give up their jobs so we can employ young, naive idealists who wear out in 6 months when confronted by the realities. In response, public servants and politicians make rules- but nothing gets any better.
I’d better give up for now and catch my breath… but SRSLY- I wish there was something I could do that is within my physical capabilities, which could influence some of these things! Arrgghhh…!!!