23 March 2010

Tough plants in tricky spots

All around my garden you will find collections of 'filler' plants, little clumps of stalwarts that have managed to grow and even prosper in difficult spots where their more exotic predecessors long ago gave up the ghost. Living as we do in a sub-tropical climate where these plants are pretty mundane, they aren't often photographed and visitors rarely notice them. But I often stop when passing to admire their tenacity. And on occasion I have had to defend them when a casual observer has suggested I  'get rid of that thing'. No, I say, these are survivors who have served me well. I can afford to let them have a piece of otherwise unproductive clay. (Secretly now and then, I even throw them a dollop of fish emulsion!)

Here, then, are some plodders.

That's an alternanthera above – not sure which one because my 5-metre row of this little hedge came from offshoots given to me by a friend. It occupies a tough edge alongside the front terrace, in full sun for much of the day during summer and so sometimes quite dry, but also getting lots of run-off from the terrace in big rains. A lime tree and other shrubs nearby don't spare these plants much sustenance, but they soldier on regardless, giving a multi-colour display all year round where other perennials and less hardy annuals have failed.

This abelia thrives in two difficult spots. They, too, live in a patch that alternates between dry-as-a-bone and soggy-wet. Under one of these shrubs, in a narrow strip between the pool and a retaining wall, a duck once laid a clutch of eggs. Sadly they were raided by (I think) a lizard before hatching. The little bell-shaped white-and-pink flowers go on and on all summer and beyond.

Here are two versions of the same plant – a variegated dracaena or cordyline – which I keep for no reason except that they have thrived in a spot where it took a long while to establish my gardenias. 
And though the gardenias alongside are now doing well (their leaves even poking through the low-growing one above left), there is something about the delicate pastel colours of these strappy leaves set against the background of darker greens in the distance that continues to earn them their keep. But the shape is all wrong for this bed now, so this autumn I will take them out and use the tops to start a new clump in some other difficult spot.
I don't frankly know if the flowers at left are those of heliconia (false bird-of-paradise) or strelitzia (real bird-of-paradise), but given their modest single colour I suspect they're the false one. Once again, the plants are offshoots from a friend's tropical garden. But they're doing well under the dappled shade from a big old ti-tree where other plants have failed. This little clump alongside the parking area makes a pretty picture when viewed from my studio windows down there on the other side of the driveway.
Another real bonanza along the driveway is a tough old mandevilla vine, whose overhanging branches bearing big yellow blooms I must, regrettably, trim away very soon if we are to continue to be able to open and close the front gate.

18 March 2010

Tibouchina in full flower

When I see a plant like this miniature tibouchina in full flower, I'm reminded I must acquire a better camera. (Or, you say, just become more skilful at taking pictures?) The colour of these purple flowers was much more intense in the early evening light than I was able to capture in either photo. Just about every bloom on the plant in the photo above aimed directly north, to drink in every bit of daylight.

The close-up shows flowers on a second plant, which went in at the same time a couple of years ago; these are more loosely distributed and the whole plant has a quite different growth pattern, probably thanks to the dappled shade from overhanging palm branches. In botany, as in real estate, what matters most? Position! Position! Position!

17 March 2010

Crayfish nurseries?

Up at the top of our 1.3 acres, a long, long way from the dam at the bottom, these holes regularly appear. Many visitors have told me they are freshwater crayfish burrows, but what are the little critters burrowing for? The holes always appear in the same area, which is rather soggy and where I suspect some underground spring activity. But there's plenty of wet clay ground down near the dam. The clay that is piled up neatly around the top of the burrow is renewed regularly. If they're crayfish holes, what are they for? I once found one of the crays floating in my swimming pool not far from this area, so I know they do come up the hill this far. I just don't know why. Must have something to do with having young, I would guess.

15 March 2010

The seven stages of caregiving?

I confess I have not lived up to my purpose in starting this blog – which was, 'to reflect about living with, caring for and being cared for in turn by a home, a garden and a partner with primary progressive aphasia. I have published many posts about the home and garden. But 'caring for' and 'being cared for' haven't figured too prominently among the entries here.

In the main, that's a good sign. It means life has returned to some kind of normal after the traumatic events of 2009. That year, or certainly the first three-quarters of it, revolved around sickness and the effects of impairment – physical, mental and for me especially, emotional. At a few low points in the year, I did feel as if that would be what the rest of our life would be about – certainly, the rest of our life together. And while I'm being honest, I also admit that once or twice for just a few minutes I thought it would have been better for Allen, and certainly for me, if he had died on the operating table or soon afterwards. But except for one terrible day toward the end of Allen's hospitalisation, those gloomy thoughts never hung around for a whole day. And mainly I refused to believe the outcome would be anything but this: I would get Allen home, and we would be OK. It was a long time before I dared to define what 'OK' might mean. But our life here would work its magic. Of that I was certain.

My work in the past ten years has required frequent uprooting, not permanent uprooting perhaps, but I have many times found myself arriving at a hotel room or short-term apartment, unpacking my suitcase, computer and briefcase and getting ready to hit the deck the next morning as...well, mainly, a problem-solver. Never mind what the problem was, and quite often it bore little resemblance to the contracted terms of reference of my consultancy, I could get in there and fix it. But even though to people who had no knowledge of those environments my aid work in developing countries appeared to be challenging, in fact with only very few exceptions my experiences were rarely earth-shattering or heart-wrenching. Out of the ordinary, perhaps. But pretty workaday nevertheless. Even so, the ability to deal with whatever they throw at you, while living and working in unfamiliar and sometimes inhospitable circumstances, without your usual support networks – all that was probably good training for surviving life-threatening medical events.

I also had one other tremendous advantage: a partner who isn't a quitter and, maybe most important of all, who is not so set in his ways that he can't adapt. In the 12 months since Allen was admitted to hospital for his second open-heart surgery (the first, 46 years earlier, having got him to 80, he didn't hesitate one minute when asked if he'd consider doing it again), I have met quite a few carers, most of them women, and the partners they care for. I have heard some inspirational but also several sad stories – of a man who would not agree to give up driving and so continued to endanger his and others' lives every day, of a man who could not bear to relinquish control of the family finances and kept changing and then forgetting bank passwords, of stubborn, proud men who could not bear to relinquish the role of Big Chief and so made their carers' jobs much more difficult. All I had to deal with was a man who, for several months, had terrible bugs eating through his breastbone and heading for the heart, and who couldn't eat, couldn't talk, couldn't breathe without a ventilator, was often delirious and couldn't understand much that anyone but me told him.

For me, if not Allen, those three months in hospital and then rehab weren't all that difficult. At least, that's how it seems in hindsight. There were battles I had to fight - and I have written elsewhere in this blog about those and about the peculiar combination of brain-related problems that resulted in some of Allen's medical complications. But now, one year later, I realise that those first months of my new role as 'carer' were were just the introduction to a whole gamut of emotional and physical 'settling in'. True, I was living away from home during that time and that was a wrench, but I had our children every day offering care and support. I had a hot meal and cosy bed waiting every night at my daughter's home(unlike the wife of the man in the next ICU bay, who spent months in a motel during her husband's hospitalisation only to have him die on the day he was due to be discharged). I also had daily messages of support from family and friends, some of whom came from China, Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania to be with us for Allen's 80th birthday celebrations at the hospital. There were even messages from people in Allen's past whom I didn't know. (The email message sticks spread far and wide.) I had almost no responsibilities other than spending seven or eight hours a day at Allen's bedside. And since that was in Intensive Care there was always a dedicated nurse with us, and many of them were a pleasure to get to know. From them I even learned a range of useful bedside skills, becoming proficient enough at some of them to be asked more than once if I had had nursing experience in my past.

The daily commute from my daughter's house to the hospital was a drag, but I could listen to books-on-tape and take time to compose myself before ringing the bell every morning for admission to Intensive Care. On the way home in the evening, when I needed it there was time to howl in anguish, and still compose myself before arriving at my daughter's for dinner. And since I refused to believe Allen wouldn't recover, I focused always on the small signs of progress (yesterday 20 minutes of breathing without the respirator, today 40 minutes; today Allen moves from eating only mashed-up food to taking some minced food; today he lifts his left leg 10cm off the bed, and does it while the physio is still there instead of one hour later etc.) And so those weeks slipped by until, miraculously, I arrived one morning to find Allen sitting up, awake and alert, and found out he'd just been wheeled into a proper shower for the first time in two months. It seemed to me then that the home stretch was in sight. At about Week 8, supported by a walking frame, nurse and attendant, he actually walked a whole circuit of the Intensive Care Unit. By this time we had become such fixtures in the ICU that the eight or nine nurses and other staff on duty that morning all turned to watch his progress and, when he completed the circuit, erupted in a round of applause.

After all that attention and what seemed like heroic efforts on Allen's part, being banished to an ordinary hospital room in week 10 and told, 'You'll never take your husband home, so get busy and find a high-care place in a nursing home" was a terrible wrench (the one truly awful day I referred to above)! Thankfully, with our surgeon's help we proved that wrong. And after two more weeks in a rehabilitation hospital, where Allen's main achievements were that he learned to walk using a conventional small frame on wheels and he began to shake off the effects of the cocktail of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs he'd been given while in Intensive Care, we finally made it home. And that was where my carer odyssey really began.

Most of us have heard about the seven stages of grief. Maybe caregiving, when it occupies a large amount of your time and energy and ties you inexorably to being available to one person 24 hours a day, has stages that are not that dissimilar. First comes shock and denial, though in the case of a hospitalisation that should have been over in a week or two, the threat of possible loss went on hovering in the background for three months. I guess I kept denying it, and maybe that was my salvation. Anyway, I had experienced total shock a few years earlier, when my mother had her first stroke and I had to give up all hopes of getting her an Australian visa and accept that I would not be able to be near her in her final years. At that time, too, I remember too well going through the next stage of grieving - pain and guilt - fearing that I might have contributed somehow to my mother's trauma by putting her through the agony of having her visa application rejected. But in this case, with Allen, the guilt I experienced that was harder to shake off was the thought that maybe I had influenced Allen to have this operation, and had not sufficiently researched the risks.

Next stage, frustration and anger, typically includes the need to blame someone else for this aftermath. I suppose I directed most of my anger in the first few months at those doctors and administrators who tried to persuade me to give up – to stop the antibiotics, and later, to put Allen into a nursing home. That anger served me well, since it prompted me to defiance. Less useful, though, was the anger I sometimes felt after we got home toward Allen and his neediness. Inevitably, those feelings would take me back to guilt, especially if I got stuck into a bottle of red wine late at night, which was all too easy to do when the house went quiet after Allen went to bed.

So it was very easy to slide into the next stage of grieving: depression and loneliness. This was made easier by our relative isolation up here, more than an hour's drive from our children and not within walking distance of any services or shops. Admittedly, we live in a beautiful semi-rural environment, and we're only 20 minutes away from a first-class tourist destination with every shopping and other facility we might want. But especially in Allen's first months at home, taking him out was difficult and eating anywhere but home not an option. And with few old friends living nearby, I was no longer so sure I would manage physically or psychologically. This is when, say the grieving guidebooks, "you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you".

In my worst moments, I felt I had lost two important pegs in my life: my independence and my best friend. Of course, I hadn't actually lost Allen, but I had lost (or so it seemed in those first months at home) much about him that I had come to rely on: intellectual companionship, a ready wit, a keen problem-solving attitude, initiative and enthusiasm in household maintenance, even someone with whom to share the cooking and cleaning, not to mention a shoulder to lean on now and then – in short, a husband.

The grief counsellors say that you eventually begin to adjust to life without your dear one – they call this the upward turn. I, however, just had to adjust to a different life with mine. After all, I still had a husband. I just had to get used to the different person he had become. Or rather, I had to learn that my husband was not a different person, even if there had to be some differences in how we lived. I also had to find ways to get back out into the garden, both because I needed to be able to do this if we were to go on living on this large block, and also because I knew the garden would be my best therapy. And since Allen couldn't do many things for himself in those early months and so couldn't be left alone in the house, I had to find a way to keep him safe while I got on with doing things I liked or that had to be done. Mostly, this meant learning to take things slower, not expecting to get everything done in a day and getting more pleasure from simple things. All in all, not a bad lesson to learn at the onset of retirement. It started simply enough with picking mulberries together, which I called Sharing the load when I wrote about it in this blog. But in fact, the load got a lot lighter as a result of my change of attitude.

Now, one year after Allen first went into hospital, I think I have finally arrived at the final two stages of grief: reconstruction and working through, and acceptance and hope. Of course, it helps enormously that Allen's physical stamina and general health have improved miraculously in the past six months. He has become something of a pin-up boy to the people who've worked with him. Our return visit to the ICU a few months ago, just to show him off, had doctors and nurses staring in disbelief. His geriatrician marvels that Allen's scores on all the standard psychological tests are almost the same as they were a year ago, even though brain scans show the 'holes' in his brain continue to expand. And from someone whose best efforts at drawing a face toward the end of his hospitalisation just nine months ago resembled those of a three-year-old (see picture on the left), Allen has progressed to writing brief letters to family and friends, he can operate a number of aphasia-specific therapy programs on computer, and he can read just about anything. Indeed, he is back to trawling the shelves on our weekly visits to the library, and recommending books he thinks I might enjoy.

We both know but don't dwell on the fact that sometimes Allen can't appreciate the complexity of a complicated plot or argument in a novel or current-affairs program. But it doesn't detract from the pleasure he gets from reading. In fact, one of the first independent things he did while still in the ICU was to pick up a newspaper I'd brought in and hold it up as if to read – upside down! He just needed to feel the comfort of that familiar act, and to believe that one day he would read and write again. As soon as we got home, he asked me to write out the alphabet on a strip of paper, which he kept on his table, practising letter by letter until he could again recognise and print all the letters, albeit in a shaky hand. He can no longer participate orally in lively dinner table discussion with friends and family, but that doesn't stop him enjoying being part of the scene. He can't remember more than a few steps in any sequence of activities and finds it difficult to execute relatively simple tasks that he once did by rote. He has trouble 'reading' a clock to tell time, for example. 'Half past' and 'quarter to' don't seem to make any sense to him, and he can't remember the different roles of the big hand and little hand, so he's as likely to say it's something after 6 when in fact it's 3.30. He knows that is wrong, but can't figure out why.

We have both accepted, it seems, that these things don't matter that much – to us, anyway. In fact, the range of things that don't matter to us is pretty astounding. Allen really has no idea at all about money, how much we have to live on, what bills I pay and what accounts I manage. If we're in a shopping centre, I might give him money and send him into a newsagency to buy a paper, where he will decide whether to get The Australian or The Sydney Morning Herald. Those are probably the only commercial transactions he has had in 12 months. Anything more than that would just confuse and upset him. But he is still better than me at selecting the best fruit to buy and making sure we get everything that's on the shopping list. And he can read and understand everything I've written here, even if it takes him a week of difficult effort to write as much as a paragraph himself.

We seem to have found "realistic solutions to our life-problems". We are "reconstructing ourselves and our lives and dealing with the reality of our situation: finding a way forward" – all things which the experts say characterise the final stages in grieving, too. People who don't know us that well still express concern for my or our 'fate'. Allen, after all, has a form of dementia! And I am stuck at home caring for him! That's what our situation looks like. We are moved by their anxiety on our behalf, but sometimes also amused. I want to tell them I feel just as bad for them, because they are still out there, part of the rat race. We, on the other hand, live quietly day to day, and do pretty much as we please, when we please. Allen is relearning how to swim. I have taken my sewing machine out again after years on the shelf. OK, the garden isn't quite up to scratch. But we have time to get pleasure from looking at it every day. We laugh an awful lot over Allen's 'category' errors. And here am I, doing what I never could find the time to do before caregiving became my way of life: WRITING.

I know in many ways we have been very lucky. But my message to carers is this: whenever you possibly can, try to enjoy some of it.

14 March 2010

The dam is full

Our water pump's intake valve is bobbing nicely out there in the deepest part of the dam at the bottom of our block, thanks to two weeks of rain totalling 630mm (about 25in). Water flows down to our valley from nearby Mt Panorama, feeding half a dozen or more dams before it reaches ours.

All of them must be overflowing by now because the often dry creekbed below our dam is not yet the raging torrent it can sometimes become, but it's flowed steadily for more than a week now.

Good to know my 2010 garden will be well watered, even if the price we are paying right now is murky-coloured water in the toilet! That's because we pump dam water up to a holding tank at the top of the block, from where it flows by gravity down to the cistern as required. This saves precious rainwater for more important uses. It also means the cistern doesn't lose its water supply if a power failure should shut down the pumps for a while. Fortunately, that doesn't happen very often any more. But it's something you must prepare for when you live in the countryside in a region where tropical storms can cause occasional havoc.

My pot plants don't smoke!

Pot plants [US friends: read 'potted plants', not marijuana] are loving all this rain, even if we are sick to death of it ourselves! That thyme (above left) has tripled in size in about two weeks, and the lavender (above right) is finally getting going after doing nothing much in the pot for more than a year. Both are tricky to grow in this climate, where the summer weather is exactly opposite to what these Mediterranean natives would prefer: our rainy hot seasons have already drowned several of my earlier attempts at both types. So now I only grow them in pots that allow good drainage in wet weather, and which I can move around in the garden according to seasonal conditions.

The same applies to pelargonia (geraniums etc.), but the plant below, which I have no memory of ever buying or acquiring, has really exploded just lately. And now I'm not even sure it's a pelargonium.

With long white flower spikes, which have appeared for the first time this year, the plant really has the flowering habit of a begonia. And the leaves and stalks, too, are begonia-like. So I'm no longer sure what this is. But with its two-toned leaves and a sprawling habit, it has nestled in nicely alongside a red-leaved neighbour on top of our water-tank-cum-terrace. In the close-up of this plant's leaves, you can see a resemblance to the leaves of two of my begonias (below). And you can't see the plant's fleshy stalks, but they're also begonia-like. 
It was probably a mistake to plant this 'cardboard palm' (actually a cycad rather than a true palm) in a container – even though the container is a large old concrete washing trough that I acquired I-don't-know-where. The cycad was only about 30cm wide when I planted it in the left half of the double-sink that sits in a corner of our gravelled parking area. At the time I thought that cycads were slow-growing! I planted a mini-variety of lilly pilly into the right half of the trough, thinking its vertical habit would balance out the cardboard palm's horizontal habit. I have since found out that these cycads can grow to 2m in diameter – and mine is well on its way to that. And pruning of the lilly pilly has resulted in its developing a horizontal habit too. Worse, the overhanging fronds hide from view that pointy corner of the concrete trough, which is a menace for unsuspecting visitors trying to execute a Y-turn in our cramped driveway. So this arrangement may well have to be reconsidered. (Good planning was never my forte!)

Here are two container plants that are no danger to anyone. On the left is the reliable old trooper, Moses-in-a-cradle – 'a fleshy rhizomatous herb native to Mexico'. I have hundreds of these scattered around the garden in various tough spots. They all derive from cuttings given to me or planted by a dear friend who used to care for the garden and house during our overseas assignments. (And some two dozen offspring went off recently to populate a difficult area in my daugher's Brisbane garden.) The little clutch below left, from cuttings put in no more than a year ago, is flourishing in a low broad pot near the edge of a covered verandah where nothing else has ever done well – though I don't remember seeing any of the white flowers that this Rhoeo spathacea is supposed to have on any of my plants as yet. The plant on the right is one of several bromeliads Julian and Teri gave me as Christmas gifts in 2008. I've kept all of them in pots, where they do best, but tucked them into various spots in the garden. I hope this year they may flower as they are obviously quite happy.

The arrangement at right is doubly pleasing – first, because the newly built cypress pergola and balustrade surrounding our tank-top terrace is still a joy to behold, and second, because the bougainvillea and agave growing together in a big pot are as happy here as they were in the out-of-sight part of the garden from which I moved them so that we'd be better able to enjoy the annual blooming riot. But who or what wouldn't be happy in this north-facing sunny spot with shadecloth overhead and big trees on the western side providing dappled shade as the sun moves across the sky on hot afternoons. Indeed, when friend Geoff came north to stay with us for ten days at Christmas-time, he spent a good part of every day reading in the chair at the left in this picture.

I've left my 'pot of the year' till last. This one's a passionfruit that has been in the same pot for several years, during which time a nearby jasmine vine dropped some tendrils into it and these took root there too. But even though I've fertilised regularly and topped up the potting mixture each year, until recently this pot had lingered in another part of the garden with limited access to the sun-filled northern sky in wintertime and inadequate supports on which the vine might lift its arms into the light. Four months ago, when the new balustrade around the water tank was finished, I moved this pot to a sheltered spot down alongside the tank's side wall (that's it at the bottom of this photo, partly hidden by the red leaves of that ubiquitous cover-up whose name I can never remember). Directly above the pot, one of the poles that support the balustrade rises up, providing access to plenty of wire netting at head-height so both the passionfruit and the jasmine can climb up to get as much sun as they want. The result has been astounding growth.

There are geranium leaves mixed in there in the photo at right. But can you see the passionfruit too? The vine is happily colonising the balustrade's netting for several metres in each direction. New flowers appear regularly and develop into fruit that are already good-sized. This is one happy pot plant! And that means: one happy gardener.

Mystery tree

I'm trying to find out the proper name of this unusual tree that is growing alongside my studio. For years I referred to it as the 'monkey puzzle' tree – a name a visitor once gave it. But I know it's not a genuine monkey puzzle, which is a conifer native to South America with 'needles' much more like those of the bunya pine to which it's apparently related.

This tree is more tropical or maybe cactus-like, with long twiggy branchlets (rather than leaves) that are firm but fleshy and drip a sticky white liquid when damaged or broken off. It's growing in a rather difficult spot, partly shaded by several tall trees on its eastern and northern sides (a silky oak, a bunya pine, and several other good-sized trees). And whoever originally planted it placed it too near a pandanus and a mango, both of which get more light, but the three trees are all doing remarkably well even though their branches are intermingled. The mango bore prolifically this year (what mango didn't!) and the pandanus is setting down supporting 'feet' amongst the tangled growth of all three trees.

Here's a close-up of the little branchlets that cover the mystery tree, obviously doing the job of leaves. And the large branch below is actually growing horizontally, taking a direct route through the pandanus and mango toward the precious northern sun. I've never noticed any flowers or fruit of any kind on the tree. And something about it makes me think it might be related to a rubber tree.

13 March 2010

Household tidbits for my sister!

As noted this morning on Facebook (which my sister refuses to join!) I am about to begin making slipcovers for (or perhaps reupholster - I haven't yet decided which) our big living-room couch with a grey-on-grey damask-like print that should go well with the cushions I will make from some of the many Lao fabrics I am holding in hues of black and red. Maybe because I'm in this uphostering mood, I couldn't help but notice in today's Australian that an expensive couch featured in a full-page ad should have had the left and right seat cushions reversed, so that the vertically running stripes on each cushion front would match the stripes on the couch base. (After all, it was once my job to notice these things for magazine shoots!)

Here's the lightweight tapestry-like fabric I bought for my couch covers. The colour is grey-on-grey, with a sprig-like pattern in subtle tones of dusty-pink and a lighter grey – just enough of a print to help disguise future stains and spills, but still match up nicely with the beautiful patterns in the Lao woven fabrics I will use for cushions. This cloth is of indeterminate genesis (perhaps some cotton, some polyester, and/or something else), and was on a 'specials' table. I had intended to buy just a small sample to test for washability, but when I brought it up to the counter the ticket was scanned and the price quoted at one-third the marked ticket price – so I bought 13m on the spot. Since then I have washed and dried a swatch, and it's come up fine. I never could resist a bargain, but anyway it's exactly what I was looking for.

The expensive couch I referred to above (a copy of which is reproduced here –  and it looks very much like my own much less expensive model, I just realised) was the focal point today in a full page advertisement for a high-end furniture salesroom, and even the sale price was in the thousands of dollars. But really, the advertising agency should have sent along someone who knows about soft furnishings when staging the shoot. Then maybe the left and right cushions would have been set down in the right place – so that each cushion's stripes would match up with the stripes on the couch base below. At this price, a woeful mismatch as shown here would be grounds for a refund, surely. Is it because I'm immersed in planning slipcovers that I notice such things? Or is it just a leftover from my days of supervising Women's Weekly photo shoots for fashion and food pages (where steam had somehow to be generated to accompany hot dishes, no matter how long the photographer took to get his shot)? Or is it just that I'm hopelessly addicted to petty details? (If so, that's probably what made me a good editor.) Now before I segue into even more diabolical non sequiturs, I shall return to my sewing machine.

09 March 2010

Back to diddly-squatting!

Here's a modest beginning, after too long without posts. On the windowsill near the kitchen sink, the last two gardenias of the season, though knocked about by days of rain, still valiantly bring us the lovely scent of summer evenings as we are cleaning up the dinner dishes. And this morning after almost two weeks of cloudy days and endless rain, we finally had enough fine weather to warrant taking our morning coffee and muffins out onto the terrace!

About me

My photo
I started this blog in 2009 when I became a full-time caregiver. My husband had been diagnosed a few years earlier with primary progressive aphasia. Over the next four years until his death in 2013, we went on a journey of discovery about this rare condition. My blog is about what I learned, how we both coped and how the journey deepened our love and appreciation of each other. Allen’s journey is over, but mine goes on.