20 December 2011

We need to talk about...Walle

We need to talk about... not Kevin, but Walle (pronounced Wall-ee). No, no: my newly adopted three-year-old labradoodle is not wreaking any kind of havoc reminiscent of that other nasty fellow. Quite the opposite, in fact. The only thing other than his toys that Walle has ever tried to destroy by chewing is the old sheepskin I put down for him alongside my bed. And that being something very like rawhide, it's probably not too surprising.

It's not as if Walle hasn't got a perfectly good bed of his own. But that's in the living-room, where he could easily choose to sleep, and does when we are all in there. But there's no room for that big bed in my bedroom. And Walle always sleeps wherever I sleep – or nearby. He's not allowed on beds or chairs, and knows that. But wherever I sit, work or sleep – that's where you'll find Walle. At the mistress's feet, so to speak. Right now, as you can see, he's lying right here behind me, his morning walk over, a couple of chicken necks quickly gobbled and nothing better to do than snooze.

Walle has become more self-confident as the weeks go by. He doesn't (always) lie outside the bathroom while I shower. And if I tell him to 'Go' when I'm working in the kitchen, he will reluctantly trot off to his bed in the living-room. Otherwise, he lies at the very edge of the carpet that marks the division between dining area and kitchen, where he (usually) knows he's not allowed to enter. Two front paws might stray over the carpet's edge onto the kitchen tiles, but that's all. And he watches. I never feed him anything while I'm working in the kitchen, so he can't be expecting scraps. He's just...watching...ME.

At least now, when we've gone to bed, Walle no longer gets up just because I make a quick toilet visit or a trip to the kitchen for water. He does always come along when I check on Allen, though. He'll stick his snout up near Allen's pillow for a quick pet, or a surreptitious lick. But other than that, he's quite content once he's settled down alongside my bed for the night. And I've learned not to step on him as I get up for any reason.

Outdoors in our one-acre paddock that's fenced on three sides only – the fourth boundary being the big old farm dam – Walle generally runs free. Exuberance did once cause him to spring off down the valley, following the creek below the dam's overflow.That creek bed marks the property line between neighbours' acreage on both sides. It was a harmless enough adventure, with me in pursuit through long grasses on both sides of the creek bed. But some deep instinct had taken hold of him, and I couldn't help but laugh as his rear legs flew high, water splashing as he landed in the nearly dry creek's puddles. He slept very well that night, feet still twitching in those strange dreams dogs have, accompanied by little half-barks of delight.

And on one other occasion, while friends were helping unload compost onto plants that border a camping area at the bottom of our paddock, I looked up just in time to see Walle take off, ears horizontal, in pursuit of a big monitor lizard he'd found sunning itself in the grass by the dam's edge. The lizard executed a neat dive into the dam, and in plopped Walle right behind. He'd no chance of catching the lizard, of course. But still Walle plodded around among the water lilies, churning up mud and coming out a new shade of brown. I'm not a great believer in washing dogs too often, but no way could Walle come into the living-room without a hosing down on that day. At least he'd recently been shorn, making the clean-up a bit easier.

The only thing Walle asks from us – other than food and water – is to let him be with us. Preferably 24 hours a day, but if we need to be away for a few hours or half a day, he will tolerate that. Nothing gets chewed and there are no wrinkles to suggest he's taken advantage of our absence to sprawl across a bed or sofa. He is, of course, deliriously happy when we get home. But that kind of effusive love is little enough price to pay for such total devotion. And at the least suggestion that he might be allowed to come with us on some outing, wild horses couldn't keep him from hopping into the car.

When Walle first came home with me seven weeks ago, I thought his extreme devotion would be temporary. It worried me then, so the breeder gave me an article about 'separation anxiety' and I followed its recommendations. But now, even though Walle has settled happily into his new home, I know his 'attachment' to me is permanent. He's a one-woman dog. And though it took some getting used to – a bit like having a toddler follow you around – I'm not only resigned to it, I love it. I even think Walle knew I needed this unconditional love and affection, knew that his main job with us would be to care for the carer.

26 October 2011

Welcome back, me!

After such a long drought, I hardly know where to begin. Blame Facebook, some addictive computer games, Donna Leon's Commisario Brunetti novels and my wonderful vegie garden for taking up so much of my free time, leading to this absence of postings for the past two months. 

Charlotte Maudie and her Mum
My gorgeous grand-daughter has to accept a small share of the blame, too. Whenever I've been around her in these first six months of her life, I've had no interest in any other pastime. Just look at this photo and you'll see why!

But now I'm determined to mend my ways and get back here more often.

Speaking of my vegetables, this looks like becoming a bumper year. During the winter I was able to have the lower vegie bed extended, the middle beds raised a little and properly drained and a new upper bed constructed where there was formerly just a sloping bank of clay. I tipped a total of 80 bags of mushroom compost onto all these beds, as well as some soil and sand. And after weeks of letting all that settle, I began planting. Not surprisingly, everything is flourishing. We're already harvesting a number of greens, plus stringbeans and radishes. I've even planted sweet corn this year, which I've only grown in Tasmania before, never Queensland.

Allen is also doing well – ploughing on with his word puzzles and working out every day on his exercise bike. Blue Care is sending in a physiotherapist once a week to help Allen improve his balance and strength, which deteriorated somewhat during the winter. We visit the library just about every week, too. He's moved on to large-print books now. It's not that he needs this for his vision. It is just easier for him to face up to a smaller amount of text on each page. Certainly, 'processing' anything (whether that's ideas, spoken utterances or tasks) is becoming more problematic for him. But he doesn't give up. Even if he can't finish half the books he starts, we are gradually getting better at selecting topics that will hold his interest and be right for his ability level. He's reading more biography and history now, and also enjoying some of the wonderful illustrated books that are available about historical periods – e.g. A Photographic History of World War II.

Shorter, more frequent postings: that's my resolve! So I'll close now and finish making the fish chowder based on the leavings of a large cod my son-in-law left in my freezer a few weeks ago. I cut fillets off the fish for last night's tea (photo); the rest of the fish made the broth base for tonight's dinner.

22 August 2011

A visit from the girls

It's about time I share a few photos of the newest girl in our family: little Charlotte Maudie H. She was born on 19 April, and was just over two months old when the following family shot was taken. The occasion was my sister N's visit, and that's N below, holding Charlotte, with proud Mum, my daughter Zoe, looking on. (The 4th girl on the left, of course, is big sister Lucy, who doesn't yet pay much attention to the newest member of her family, though I understand she did recently have a little lick of Charlotte's face when Mum wasn't looking.)


Not surprisingly, my granddaughter is just about the most amazing child who ever drew breath. Not that I take credit for that, of course – it's just a fact of life which any grandmother would understand. I guess I could lay claim to some credit for the fact that Zoe is doing an outstanding job of mothering. But that might be difficult to justify, given that I made a bit of a mess of some of my own early experience in that role.

Maybe that's why I am so revelling in the role of grandma. Of course, I have had good practice as one of several grandmothers to Sam and, in a smaller way, to Allen's other two grandchildren. But I'm still amazed at the joy I feel in being part of this little one's life. And I am already thinking ahead to all the things I hope to share with her and teach her.
  
My delight is probably greater because Z&B's decision to have a baby came as such a surprise to me. In recent years Zoe had begun to talk about the possibility. But years went by and so I really stopped thinking much about it. And now that it's actually happened, little Charlotte has worked that miracle that only babies can. She has brought hope and optimism for the future back into my life, where previously those things had been, if not exactly lacking, certainly a bit thin on the ground, given all that has gone on with us in the past few years.

 

 

18 August 2011

Aphasia Music Video

Check out this aphasia music video by Marc Black, with animation by Buzzco.


12 August 2011

My time at Time: How proofreading was done

This is the fourth and final article in a series about my first job in publishing – in the editorial offices of Time Magazine at Rockefeller Center, New York City. It was 1965 and I had just moved to New York. Previous articles in this series were My time at Time: Getting a job as proofreader; My time at Time: A short, hectic working week; and My time at Time: Learning the ropes.
Each two-person proofreading team at Time Magazine worked according to a well-established and tightly controlled routine. There could be eight or more teams totalling 16+ people working on the two busiest days of the week. Each team had a small alcove in which to work, which only partly isolated the team from the sounds of adjoining teams.
In each team, one person read aloud from the edited draft while the other team member followed along on the galley-proof, carefully reading the typeset copy there and using appropriate proofreading symbols to indicate anything that the typesetter had not reproduced exact1y as per the draft. The long galley sheets contained white space on the left and right of the typeset lines, and in this white space the proofreader could note any corrections within the line. If a typeset line required more than one correction, then successive corrections would be separated by an oblique line. Corrections pertaining to the left half of each typeset line were written in the left margin; corrections to the right half of each line, in the right margin.

Straightforward corrections were written in one colour (red); queries in a second colour (I think this was blue); and later in the week, when final layouts were being assembled, proofreaders would note in a third colour (green) any optional additions or deletions which the story's author or editor had suggested. These options could be used or not, depending on the story 'fit', or number of lines available for that story in the page's layout. As no one except authors and editors were allowed to make such deletions or additions, having readymade options available helped to minimise the need to send 'copy' back up to the author during later stages in page make-up. In fact, the name given to these optional types of annotations came from the ink used: they were known as 'greens'.

The partner in each team who read from the original text read everything: punctuation ('bang' for exclamation point, I remember; 'pos' for apostrophe, 'query' for question mark), capital letters (cap-A etc.), spellings of most proper nouns, new paragraphs, indentations, quotation marks etc. So the first line of text in this article would be read as follows:
para cap e each two hyphen person proofreading one word team at open itals cap t time cap m magazine close itals worked according to a well hyphen established and tightly controlled routine stop
At the end of this first reading the person who had 'read' aloud from the original text (the ‘copyholder’) then took the printed galley from his or her partner and silently reread the galley, checking the partner's corrections and looking for anything the partner may have missed. The two then discussed any queries either of them wished to make about the story or passage (e.g. the spelling of the name of an obscure Indian village perhaps, or the accuracy of the description of some medieval re1igious practice about which the proofreader happened to have read a book recently). They might also consult with a proofreader working in a nearby alcove who was known to be an expert, say, on the sexual habits of one-humped dromedaries. Then the pair would return the galley and its accompanying story to the box holding completed jobs and take the next story from the top of the pile of stories waiting to be read.  
The corrected galleys went back to the typesetters for corrections. Later a revised galley, along with the marked-up first galley showing what corrections were needed, came back to the proofreaders for a reading of the corrections. Typesetters were as strictly regimented as proofreaders, so when proofreaders checked corrected galleys they only had to read closely those paragraphs that contained a correction, not the whole story. The typesetter would have worked from a paper-tape 'memory' to reproduce the revised galley. He (and typesetters were all male) would not have rekeyed anything except the lines that contained a correction. And if for any reason the typesetter had rekeyed lines that didn't contain a correction, he was expected to indicate this in some way on the revised galley. This would alert the proofreaders that these lines, too, contained ‘new copy’ (i.e. newly keyed copy). So these lines also needed to be read again. Otherwise, revised galleys did not have to be completely reread. But to be sure no lines had accidentally been deleted, the proofreader partner doing the reading would take the original galley in hand and, reading aloud to his or her partner who was checking the revised galley, go through all the lines again, but reading only the first and last words of each line, just to make sure that all lines in the original galley were the still t here in the revised galley.
Team members were supposed to take turns as readers and markers. I would be the 'copyreader', reading aloud from the original story on one job; on the next job, I would be the ‘copyholder’, marking up the galley while my partner read aloud from the original. Except for an incorrect word-break at the end of a line, the only contribution a proofreader could make to the content of a galley was to query some point. And queries were not made lightly. Honour was involved.
Writers and editors had it in for proofreaders – or so it seemed in those high-pressured closing hours of each editorial week. Most writers and editors at that time seemed to project (or tried to project) the image of a successful Ivy League academic (writers were all men, in those days). Except for some well established old-school journalists, writers and editors wore tailored suits during the week, and on Saturday (‘closing’ day of the editorial week) they might wear casual slacks and cashmere sweaters with Harris Tweed jackets. In those days, they never wore jeans or sneakers. 
Proofreaders, on the other hand, were a ratbag lot. They tended to favour orthopaedical1y correct handmade shoes from Greenwich Village shoemakers, fringed shawls, funny hats which they wore indoors and thick homespun Aran sweaters. Some were unashamedly homosexual and/or vege­tarian – this at a time when other corporate employees were discrete about such preferences. Proofreaders had PhDs in Eastern religions and East European literature. And they quite often knew more than writers and editors (except about getting ahead in American corporations). So when proofreaders queried something, they were almost always proved right.

Very occasionally, a galley would come back with a ‘thank you’ from the writer who had been saved from embarrassment by an astute query. But the proofreader whose query was found to be groundless was punished royally. Trailing miles of galley behind him, and maybe carrying a book from the exhaustive Time Library to show that his was the correct version of the fact in question, the writer would sail triumph­antly down the long 24th-floor corridor into the proofreaders’ windowless rabbit warren (only the writers had windows) and in a loud voice that everyone this side of the central elevator shaft could hear announce: ‘Thank you for your efforts but my version was the correct translation of that line from the Gallic Wars. You were probably confusing the dative and the ablative, but thank you anyway.' No wonder proofreading partners consulted carefully before querying.
I remained a proofreader at Time for about 18 months, I think. Occasionally I also worked upstairs at Time-Life Books, where the pressure was less and perhaps as a result, the proofreaders generally were less bizarre individuals. There, it was considered imperative that proofreaders not be distracted by too great an interest in a book’s story line, so all galleys were split into sections that deliberately did not correspond to beginnings and ends of chapters. Again, proofreaders were supposed to take from the top of the basket, but teams occasionally (and surreptitiously) exchanged jobs if a particular team wanted to continue reading from a book the pair was enjoying.
Tired of midnight closing hours, I left Time for a while to take a 9-to-5 job – setting up a proofreading system for a public relations firm. But news releases and advertising supplements were a great bore after Time-style excitement. So after a year I went back to Time as 'girl friday' to the production editor. That was when I began a really serious involvement with publishing and production, but that’s a story for another day.
Nowadays proofreading has all but disappeared as a publishing profession. Very few people know the difference between editing and proofreading, and many honestly (and to their peril) believe that computers can proofread as well as people. Knowing such things as the correct use of hyphens, en-rules and em-rules is no longer a marketable skill. And thanks also to computers, in my later years in the publishing industry graphic designers had become the ‘oddballs’ in the production team – though they usually enjoyed a lot more prestige than proofreaders ever did. But in my time at Time, proofreaders were the strange ones. And how lucky I was to have spent the formative years of my working life amongst these weird creatures.

This was the final article in a series about my first job in the publishing industry. In more than 40 years' involvement in publishing since then, I have never known a proofreading process of equivalent comprehensiveness. For that matter, I've never worked in any organisation that had such well-developed processes for the preparation and production of printed material.

05 August 2011

A needling post

Teacher-trainees in the Lao project I was managing wear
beanies knitted by my mother just as her eyesight was failing
I come from a line of needle-workers. Many of the women in our family sewed, knitted and/or crocheted. I wouldn't be surprised if some of our French foremothers were lacemakers, too. When she has time (which is rarely), my daughter is continuing the tradition. So is my Tassie niece, who has just bought her first sewing machine and who is also a crack crocheter.

My sister's bowl of crocheted fruit
Unlike my sister and her daughter (said niece), however, I mainly use patterns designed by others – except for homewares (pillow covers, bedspreads, curtains and pelmets etc.), where I happily go off in all sorts of directions. But during my long working life, I used my sewing to take my mind off work problems. I had a stressful job for a long time as the head of a busy government publishing unit. It wasn't always easy to stop the day's challenges and the next day's deadlines from mulling around in my head after I got home at night. So right after dinner on most week nights, I would go straight to my work table and sewing machine.


In that period of my life, I seemed best able to unwind by dumbly following a pattern, usually working on items for my work wardrobe, at a time when my teenage daughter was more interested in store-bought clothes. I did spend several months fabricating a fabulous black and pink silk ball gown for her high school formal – complete with boning, lining, organza underskirt and more than a dozen bound buttonholes and silk-covered buttons making up a false front... well, it's difficult to describe. I'll scan an old photo instead.

Eventually I came to use nothing but Vogue patterns. What appealed about them, I think, was the attention to tailoring detail and the challenges they presented – unusual ways of setting in sleeves, shaping yokes, and those sorts of things. Now my wardrobe needs are greatly reduced, I'm getting to an age when clothes don't wear out and what I mostly wear are garden togs that are the remnants of an earlier, classier casual life. But I'm still addicted to sewing and knitting.

I could afford the luxury of daytime sewing these days, but I still prefer to do my needling in the evening. My sewing machine is almost permanently set up at the 6ft long huon pine dining table. These days we take most of our meals in armchairs by the TV, or at a small cedar table nearer the kitchen. What was formerly our main dining table is now only used for meals with visitors. So for most of the time it makes a wonderful sewing centre, with all my trimmings stored away in one section of the Philippine sideboard nearby.

What is it about my and my sister's fingers that they need to keep busy! Arthritis may take its toll with me eventually, as it did with my mother. But until then my hands will keep dancing to well-known rhythms that by now must have become imprinted somewhere in my tailor's brain. I mainly choose simpler projects nowadays, and just as often sew for others (my son-in-law would like another pair of my board shorts, and my new grand-daughter opens up a whole world of opportunities).

One last square to knit, then blocking, joining the squares
and knitting a red edging and this Peruvian wool afghan
will be ready for my grand-daughter's pram or cot.

(Click here to read an earlier post about my sewing life.)

07 June 2011

Keepsakes or junk? Is there a difference?

Take a look at my studio and tell me if you can believe that I'm on a mission to de-clutter my living spaces!



And that's only one side of the room. Here's the other side.


Am I a hoarder? I never used to think I was. And I do live in a relatively small house, so most rooms probably contain more than would be necessary if we had four bedrooms and heaps of closets. But let's see what kinds of things I hold on to in this room only – things that aren't strictly necessary for the editing of books (my former trade) or the kind of writing I now do on this blog and for other purposes.

In the top row picture, at left:
  1. Two Laotian sticky-rice baskets (only two of a dozen I have in different sizes).
  2. About 20 years of tax records under the desk! (You never know.)
  3. On a shelf above (just out of view), about 35 travel books featuring places I've visited, places I intended to visit but didn't, and places I just like reading about.
  4. Behind one rice basket, a glass paperweight given to me as a Christmas present by........I can't remember who, but it was important at the time.  
  5. Four CD cases containing 10 years of backup files.
In the top row picture, at right:
  1. Yet another sticky-rice basket - this one home to a small electric jug so visitors (and I) can make a cup of tea in the afternoon. And a fridge-top tray of smoked cane from the Philippines.
  2. Never mind what's in the bar fridge. (You can never have too much home-grown citrus or homemade jam.)
  3. On the wall, handwoven silk shawl from Laos. On the bed, handwoven cotton bedspread from the Philippines.
  4. Pillowcases featuring embroidered Lao cloth (black), printed canvas made from a former Philippine shower curtain (white) and heavy African cloth (red).
  5. A set of prints on the wall, the early work of a dear printmaking friend with whom I've lost touch.
  6. In another friend's old black sea chest that doubles as a bedside table, all the Christmas decorations, my first marriage wedding veil, the outfit I made to take home my newborn (now 39-year-old) daughter from hospital plus the bloodstained nightie I wore to deliver her, several of her most important first dolls, and an old chenille bedspread from Tasmanian days.
In the second row picture, at left:
  1. Bottom two shelves contain copies of many of the publications produced by Qld Dept of Education while I was in charge of the publishing unit there (1987-98). I need to donate these to an education library somewhere.
  2. Third shelf from bottom has two silk-covered boxes containing a seal with my name in Chinese characters and a small porcelain container of sealing wax. A gift while in the Philippines.
  3. Fourth shelf up has name card holders bought in Vietnam and a clock which was a gift, and which has Thai numbers on its face. (Why do I have two of these clocks!)
  4. Fifth shelf up has mementos of my mother: little cloth-covered birdcage she made years ago as an ornament, and a metal box with some of her old Singer sewing machine bits and pieces. I also have the old brush she used to sweep thread dust off the machine's working bits. It's great on my keyboard.
  5. Top two shelves have my collection of classic feminist books plus other writings and journals by women – waiting to find a good home (any takers?)
  6. Third shelf down has publishing and editing references I no longer use.
  7. Fourth shelf down has education and development books I'd also like to give away.
In the second row picture, at right:
  1. The old Tasmanian table (pine top, blackwood legs) came from a neighbour's greenhouse 30+ years ago, after I told him we were looking for a patio table. (He tossed it over the fence to us, as I recall, and then we refinished it! His wife was not happy once she saw it done up.)
  2. Hanging above the table: a Hmong baby carrier I bought from a woman who made it on an old Singer treadle machine. It's thickly embroidered in heavy cotton on a modern fluorescent fabric that Hmong mothers prefer instead of their traditional navy blue handwoven cotton fabric. (I have an embroidered Hmong skirt in that fabric.)
  3. See the horseshoe on the notice board? It's on a piece of wood carved with '1991' – the year our predecessors at this place built the cedar-walled garage that I transformed into this studio. It used to hang above the door.
  4. Also on the notice board, a little framed photograph of tiny Hotel Esmeralda, Paris – given to me by a dear friend who stayed there on my recommendation during her first of many trips to Paris.
  5. White wire baskets hold my collection of Lao shawls and other Lao handwoven cloth.
  6. Little Huon pine pots on the table date back to Tassie days.
  7. And standing at the back of the table, a piece of calligraphy by my late Great Uncle, a Canadian priest who was also organist at the cathedral in Montreal. When I visited there long after he died, the archivist presented me with a box of my uncle's possessions, such as family photos, examples of my uncle's artwork and musical compositions and his old paintbox.
  8. In back of the printer/fax and only the top edge visible here: one of the little slates distributed to Lao schoolchildren along with chalk, on which they learned to write in the absence of paper and pencils (this in the 1990s).
  9. Standing at the end of the table and not quite visible, my old croquet mallet in its cover. I may use it again quite soon.
  10. A wooden sign saying 'Massachusetts' which I bought while visiting my folks there many years ago.
  11. And above the window, a pair of carved temple-guarding creatures from Laos.

I wasn't even going to mention any of the things inside desk drawers or filing cabinet draweres, but then I came across this little box of paperclips from the Philippines, handmade from pieces of bamboo and string. These are definitely too precious not to be featured here – and not to be kept!


So you tell me. Am I a hoarder? And if so, how can I break the habit?

06 June 2011

My time at Time: Learning the ropes

This is the third in a series of articles about my first job in publishing – in the editorial offices of Time Magazine at Rockefeller Center, New York City. It was 1965 and I had just moved to New York. The first article in this series was My time at Time: Getting a job as proofreader and the second article, My time at Time: A short, hectic working week.

To my horror in my first week, on-the-job training as a proofreader at Time meant starting work immediately as one-half of a two-person team. I found out later that only a few proofreaders were entrusted with the job of working with us rookies. Many of the 20-odd characters (I could say ‘20 odd characters’) working in that section in shifts had too many idiosyncrasies to be any use in the initiation of a newcomer.

All proofreading was done by teams, each of which included two proofreaders. Many of these partners had worked at Time for ten or more years. A proofreader friend from those days who has just retired after 39 years at Time eventually moved ‘up’ to copyediting. But in the 1960s such a progression was unthinkable. The various job categories were very much stratified. (1)
I have never known a more interesting collection of unusual people in one small group of fellow workers than those Time proofreaders. Almost all of them shared this attitude to the job: it was interesting, pleasant and well-paid work that allowed them to pursue more serious interests out of work. Most proofreaders worked a three-day week, so there was plenty of time for other interests. Long working days of 12 or more hours left little time for anything but work on Thursday to Saturday. But for the other four days of the week, proofreaders were freer than people with standard five-day jobs.

Some proofreaders even commuted from country locations beyond the famous satellite towns in the adjacent states of Connecticut and New Jersey that were home to conventional commuters. These longer-range commuters would spend two nights in hotels where they perhaps got special deals, or paid board somewhere for a two-night weekly stay. Most of them had professional or personal involvement in areas such as scholarship, writing, farming, philosophy or art. Their proofreading jobs fit in comfortably with those other pastimes. Some were kindly, some quirky, but almost all were fascinating to me, a young New England girl with little experience of such ‘characters’.
Each proofreader usually also had an area of expertise on which he or she (the group was split about 50–50, male and female) would be consulted by the others, and occasionally by writers and editors. However, there existed a kind of unspoken warfare (more or less serious, depending on the individuals involved) between the 25th-floor writers and editors and the 24th-floor production staff, especially proofreaders.

As each proofreading job was finished, the team was supposed to take the very next story on the top of the pile. The man who had administered my proofreading test, and who was responsible for progressing copy through the typesetting and proofreading process, would arrange the articles according to the priority which best suited the ‘make-up’ of the magazine’s layout pages.
The proofreading task consisted of correcting long galleys of each magazine article which had been keyed by typesetters operating noisy machines in a large adjacent area. (Experiments introducing computers into the publishing process were just then beginning, but the technology was not yet used for galley production.) The typesetters' job was to precisely reproduce the contents of the final typewritten copy which had resulted after writing and editing were finished. 

As well as the conventional galley printout, typesetters simultaneously produced a per­forated paper-tape version of the story – an early form of ‘memory databank’. It was this paper tape which, after corrections, would be used to ‘wire’ a final version of the story to the Chicago printing plant over dedicated phone lines. Older, experienced typesetters could even 'read' the perforated tape with their fingers and hastily patch in last-minute corrections by hand, instead of producing a whole new roll for each article. After typesetting, corrected galley proofs were used to make up precise layouts that would be airfreighted to the Chicago printing plant to show how typeset text and photos were to be laid out on each page.
The proofreading team received one copy of the uncorrected galley and the final typed draft which the typesetter had used as his original text. Remember: this was before word-processing and visual display units. The final edited draft of a story would have been typed up as an original with several carbon copies produced on sheets of various colours (pink, green, blue etc.) One of those carbon copies (the green, I think it was) would have gone to the relevant section's researcher (always a woman) whose final job it was to check and tick every fact, every unusual spelling, and every proper noun and name in the article, showing that she had checked each of these and affirmed each was correct. These 'check copies', signed off by the researcher, were kept upstairs in a central section of the editorial office and could be consulted by anyone who suspected an error of any sort after that article's researcher and writer had gone home. No one was supposed to alter anything so checked, without first consulting the researcher personally.

The final draft was sacrosanct. Not a 1etter or other character could be changed without the approval of the relevant editor, writer, copyreader (or subeditor) and/or researcher. Indeed, everyone who worked on a story at some point added his or her initials to the final draft and/or galley in the appropriate place. There was no anonymity at any stage of the production process – though it was not until the introduction of the Time essay in later years that individual writers received any by-lines in the actual pages of the magazine.
Incidentally, every time an error was discovered in the printed magazine, all of the initialled drafts and galleys were reviewed the following week so that blame could be properly apportioned. I think this was done as a point system and I remember everyone dreading the accumulation of errors for this reason. I acquired some distinction (albeit unwanted) for a notoriously amusing error I once made while working in a later position at Time. Then, one of my last jobs each week was to wire to the Chicago printing plant a list of ‘picture credits’ (photographers’ names) for the photos used in the final layouts. These names would then appear in small-size type alongside the appropriate photo. By some quirk I managed to credit a picture of an astronaut taking one of the first spacewalks to a certain New York photographer who often worked for Time, instead of correctly crediting NASA. (The photographer sent me a dozen roses to thank me for broadening his portfolio!)

(1) For example, all writers and editors were men, most of whom had ‘outside’ offices containing a window. All researchers were women and they worked in windowless ‘inside’ offices

In the next article in this series, I'll describe the tightly regimented process that proofreading teams were expected to follow for each article they read. In more than 40 years' involvement in publishing, I have never known a proofreading process of equivalent comprehensiveness.

03 June 2011

My time at Time: A short, hectic working week

This is the second in a series of articles about my first job in publishing – in the editorial offices of Time Magazine at Rockefeller Center, New York City. It was 1965 and I had just moved to New York. The first article in this series was My time at Time: Getting a job as proofreader.

The editorial week at Time began, officially, on Tuesday and ended on Saturday. However, many of the employees on the 24th and 25th floors – the editorial floors – worked a four-day week (Wednesday to Saturday). Even so, we all managed to accumulate a lot of overtime. Even staff such as layout artists, who worked only three days (Thursday to Saturday), often worked many hours of over­time, and this was very generously paid. In fact, Time's generosity to its employees at that time was legendary.

Catering events on both of the 'late' nights (Friday and Saturday) were an institution. Friday nights featured a 'cocktail hour', with a bar set up in the large 25th-floor 'lounge' equipped for just such events. And on Saturday night, when most of the editorial staff were expected to work as long as it took to 'close' the magazine, the company laid on a three-course meal, complete with silver service and white-coated chefs. Staff lined up with meal trays, selected from two or three main courses, and then took the dome-covered meal down to their desk to be consumed as work permitted. Later they would return for second helpings, and then a range of desserts plus assorted cheeses. I think there were little bottles of wine too, but maybe I'm wrong. Leftover pieces of cutlery and china were among the detritus to be cleared away at the beginning of the following week, as anyone scheduled to work extra late would have stashed away plates of cheese and biscuits and other titbits to see them through the night. At that time, there were very few fast-food outlets near Rockefeller Center that were considered safe destinations after midnight. Apart from this company-supplied food, the only other options were a few nearby restaurants that would deliver orders of Chinese and Italian meals. I suppose some of us also brought in food from home, but I don't recall that many people did.

The company also provided taxi-fares to everyone who worked after a certain hour (I think it was 8 or 9pm). This could be claimed the next week as petty cash. And except for Saturday night, when dinner was provided, late-working staff were also entitled to claim set amounts for one or more meals, according to the amount of hours they had worked on any day. No receipts were required for any of these claims, just the record of hours worked. So each week's petty cash entitlements were usually sufficient to pay for the following week's commuting fees. Working even later – after midnight, I think – entitled you to a door-to-door limousine service to your home, even when 'home' was somewhere an hour or more distant. I remember often opting for the taxi money instead of the limousine, and then taking my usual subway home. You could do very well out of petty cash that way.

The final largesse was a very generous profit-sharing system –  more or less equivalent to a superannuation scheme, except that employees contributed nothing and were entitled to withdraw the proceeds on resignation, no matter how old (or young) they were. A certain copyboy, a member of the fledgling magazine's original staff, was said to have retired on what, in today's terms, was the equivalent of millions of dollars. (Unfortunately, he died not long after retirement.) At our resignation, my husband's and my profit-sharing proceeds were sufficient to pay our fares to Australia and set us up a flat in Sydney – not a bad return for a couple in their late 20s.
Time's concentrated work week resulted from the desire to publish news that was as current as possible at the time of going to press. Theoretically the magazine 'closed' early on Saturday evening. Exactly what this mythical Saturday deadline was varied from time to time as the managing editor attempted to implement budgetary cutbacks. Each edition's cover-story, special colour features and some 'back of the book' sections (Art, Books, Film etc.) had earlier closing times, as these sections did not usually depend on late-breaking news. This meant that pre-press activities and even some printing could begin before later news sections of the magazine had closed. (Remember: I'm describing production activities of more than 40 years ago, before typesetting and other publishing tasks were computerised.)

No matter what the official closing time was supposed to be, it was rarely achieved. The final 'closing' for the week meant the last corrections to the last story were sent from the New York office to the printing plant in Chicago. Time rented direct telephone lines for the transmission of typeset stories as data. This was achieved by inserting rolls of perforated paper tape, whose perforations contained code for all text, punctuation and line-breaks, into machines in New York. This data was then transmitted electronically over those phone lines to the Chicago plant. Exactly how the lines of text were to be placed on each page was shown on full-size layout sheets on which graphic artists pasted up galley-proofs of text and 'bromides', or reproductions, of photos in actual final sizes to exactly fill each column of each page. These layouts, along with 150 or so possible photos that might be used that week, were dispatched to the Chicago printing plant in a series of packages sent via commercial flights on successive days of the editorial week.
In a later position at Time it was my job to arrange those packages and flights, no mean feat when Chicago had some of the worst winter weather and highest snowfalls of all the major US airports. For winter days when O’Hare Airport closed down completely due to bad weather, I had access to a group of daredevil messengers whom we would employ to hand-deliver Time’s well-identified large red cardboard envelopes to the Chicago printing plant. The messengers would choose from various alternative routes, including charter flights to smaller airports in towns near Chicago where shorter runways could be ploughed clear of snow just prior to landing a small plane. Or I would send fearless teams of messengers by overnight train, with instructions to go as far as possible by rail and then hire a truck or car for the rest of the journey. Sometimes, messengers set out in their own all-weather vehicles, choosing to make the 700-mile trip by road, and usually getting there. Even in good weather, unaccompanied packages sent via the regular weekly flights would sometimes go astray, turning up days, even weeks, later. Once a phone call from a Pacific island alerted me to the fact one of my red Time packages had been sitting at the airport there for weeks!

Original photos were always copied before being dispatched – sometimes from negatives, if we had them, but in the case of photos that had come in from wire services such as AAP, our lab would make a copy from the original photo before dispatching the original in one of the packages to Chicago. These back-up copies made from photos and not negatives were of reduced quality, and no one liked having to use them. But when packages containing original photos were lost or couldn't get through, and the photo was considered important, we might have no choice. If it was late in the week and there wasn't time to dispatch a replacement package, we might even have to resort to wiring this copy to Chicago via what was then a crude form of faxing. In such cases, difficult questions would be asked at the next week's post-mortem meetings. But I'll describe that process in a later article.
I remember one time when the mythical Saturday closing deadline actually was achieved. There was quite a celebration but in fact the success was probably the result of a boring news week. In any case, too early a closing would have wreaked havoc with the weekly poker game – another Time tradition – which moved from office to office, according to who was rostered as ‘late editor’ that week. Generally, however, no-one below the status of senior editor seemed to take the deadline very seriously. Last-minute news stories and additional facts and photos to go into existing stories were being added all the time. But eventually the week’s 'late man' – one of the production staff – would paste down the last line of type on the last page of layout and call the edition ‘closed’. This meant the last proofreading team, the last blue-pencil wielding writer and editor and the last copyboy could finally go home. Rarely did this happen before midnight. More often it was 2, 3, 5 or even 10am Sunday morning.
I remember occasionally working right through Saturday and Sunday and on to Monday morning – for example, on the weekend Robert Kennedy was assassinated, and again when Martin Luther King was shot. Events such as these resulted in all-new cover stories replacing whatever had been scheduled, no matter how late. On such occasions, the company would take a group of rooms in a nearby hotel and staff would go there in shifts to get some sleep (always on full pay, of course). Nor was it unusual to see a layout artist laid out on his work bench, sound asleep, his head on a stack of layouts. I remember at such times a certain prematurely bald, dapper little man who usually wore a crisp white shirt was the messenger who would sweep out of the elevator from the managing editor's office upstairs and sail down the hall into the complex of rooms on Floor 24 where production staff worked, calling out: 'Hold everything. New cover.' There would be groans and expletives all around, especially from persons who'd been foolish enough to make a date for midnight on what had seemed a quiet news week. I suspect the couches in editors' offices at Time saw more use – by sleepers, at least – than furniture in a lot of New York office suites.
I think an early proof of the magazine was delivered from Chicago to the managing editor's Connecticut home on Sunday. In any case, the first magazines were on New York newsstands on Monday morning and a copy on everyone’s desk in the Time offices on Tuesday. If that week's edition contained errors or faults of any kind, the storm would have had time to brew before production staff arrived at work on Wednesday, the beginning of our work week. Then the mood of gloom would be palpable even before you arrived at your desk. But if everything had gone well, those of us who began work on Wednesday would begin the job of cleaning up last week's mess. Long, lazy lunches were also a feature of these quiet Wednesdays – often paid for by the petty cash one collected from the downstairs business office on presentation of the previous week's timesheet.

In the next two articles in this series, I'll describe how proofreading was done at Time Magazine. I doubt any magazine today could afford to have as comprehensive (and expensive) a proofreading system as did the publications produced by Time-Life in those days.

02 June 2011

Another round of therapy ends

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny up here on the Sunshine Coast, and we could happily have sat out in the late autumn sunshine for the rest of the day.


But just minutes after taking this photo, we were off to Brisbane for the last of 12 sessions in a semester-long Aphasia Clinic at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland. This is the third time that we've participated in this clinic – we did our first UQ clinic in 2009, not long after Allen's release from hospital, and we went again for one semester in 2010.
Each clinic group contains six or seven participants who have some form of aphasia – most of whom acquired the condition as a result of stroke. Almost all the participants come along with a family member (usually a spouse, but sometimes a son or daughter). Each week's session includes one hour of group therapy activities, and one hour of individual therapy. Here small groups of participants have to rearrange a series of pages, each of which contains text and a photo, into a logical sequence to make a story. This demonstrates clearly that aphasia therapy is about much more than just speech. The full spectrum of mental processes can be affected by the deterioration in areas of the brain that affects a person's ability to use language. Sequencing difficulties are just one of many other problems that people with aphasia may experience.

The UQ clinic program is conducted by Undergraduate Speech Pathology students working under the supervision of a Speech Pathologist from the teaching faculty. The moderate cost of $200 per clinic, or just over $8 per hour, is exceptional value for speech pathology sessions. And the group environment is particularly good for building confidence.

As well as developing and delivering Allen's individual therapy sessions, Dana and Caitlin, the two students assigned to us, administered standard speech pathology tests to Allen over the 12 weeks: the Boston Naming Test and two subtests of the Psycholinguistic Assessments of Language Processing in Aphasia (PALPA): subtests 47 (Spoken Word-Picture matching) and 48 (Written Word-Picture Matching).

Testing is worked into therapy sessions in a relaxed and friendly manner, so Allen's performance was not adversely affected by any anxiety about the process. Then at the final session, Dana and Caitlin presented us with a comprehensive 6-page report summarising Allen's test results, and comparing these to results from previous years. The report also documents his progress on therapy goals we had set for these sessions, and gives recommendations for future therapy.

Allen's poor score on naming simple objects (19/60) confirmed that he has severe word-finding difficulties. This result is down from 29/60 in 2009 and 39/60 in 2006, when he was first diagnosed (55 is considered an average score). However, when he doesn't have to name an object himself, but simply has to match a given word to a picture, or vice versa, he scores almost perfectly (37/40 and 39/40). This confirms that his comprehension of words is relatively intact – as we know from the fact that he is still an avid reader. (Currently he's re-reading Dickens and recently finished a couple of Bill Bryson's travel books.)

In past years, when we have presented a copy of the UQ report about Allen's progress to the gerontologist who treats him for aphasia, and who administers his own tests once a year, he has been very impressed with the quality of the UQ reports, and the depth of coverage. We, too, have been well pleased with all three of the UQ Aphasia Clinics we attended over three years. And I would certainly encourage anyone with aphasia to participate (the Speech Pathology Clinic webpage gives contact details – but remember to specify that you're interested in the Aphasia Clinic, which is not specifically listed on the website).

In spite of this, I think we may not be participating in further clinics. I tried to explain my reasons for this in an email to our student therapists, part of which read as follows:

I’m not sure how much Allen can profit from continued therapy that ‘challenges’ him. Whereas this used to have a good effect on him, when he was able to feel he could make progress, I’m afraid now he mainly gets frustrated by what he can’t do. His intelligence is not affected – so he knows how badly he’s performing on some therapy tasks. And sometimes this depresses him. I’m not saying this has happened too much this semester. But I have noticed a difference in his reaction to therapy.

I am inclined to think that it’s better for us to organise more social occasions – visits with friends, going out to see plays and such – than to take part in too much therapy. The truth is that Allen isn’t going to improve; he is only going to deteriorate – that’s the unfortunate nature of Primary Progressive Aphasia. But luckily, Allen is highly motivated and undertakes quite a lot of mental activity at home – he routinely works on his daily word-finding puzzle (seeing how many words he can make from a given set of 9 letters) and inevitably scoring very well) and on various other pen-and-pencil activities, plus he does lots of reading every day. So I think it’s best for him to continue that kind of activity – plus our two-times-monthly sessions with members of our own Sunshine Coast Aphasia Group – and perhaps undertake more physical activity, maybe even another round of physiotherapy.
I think a more relaxed lifestyle may be better for Allen than having to work on set tasks, or homework, that he tends to worry about finishing. And that’s why I’ve decided it’s best for us not to continue with clinics – especially since the distance we have to travel is quite a strain on both of us. It’s been a very good experience for both of us, but I think the time has come for us to be a bit more relaxed in how we deal with Allen’s aphasia.

God knows I’ve pushed Allen very hard for the past few years, and in many ways that has benefited him. But I think the time has come when we should go along at a more relaxed pace, and enjoy life without pressuring Allen too much to try and perform at a level that is difficult for him. Does that make sense to you? We’ve lived with this situation for quite a few years now, and I guess in some ways we are both rather tired of the hard work. So I guess I need a break as much as he does. Maybe by next year I’ll feel differently, but for now I think more time in the sun and less on the road is the way to go.

21 May 2011

My time at Time: Getting a job as proofreader

This is the first in a series of articles about my first job in publishing – in the editorial offices of Time Magazine at Rockefeller Center, New York City. It was 1965 and I had just moved to New York with my new husband, who was already working for Time. With his help, I secured a job as proofreader and thus began a fascinating period in my young working life.

For four years in the late 1960s, I worked at Time Magazine in New York City, initially as a ‘proofreader’ and then in a position that used to be called 'girl friday', working for the Production Editor. Since then I have had a lot of different jobs in publishing, but I have never had a job in which I learned so much so quickly – not only about writing, editing, and publishing but also about the complicated, sometimes amusing, often frustrating but never boring relationships that exist in an environment where everyone is dedicated to achieving a first-class output in spite of incredible pressure and crazy time constraints.

All of Time's employees were expected to share in a fanatical pursuit of factual accuracy and grammatical correctness, of which the copy-handling system was but one example. Indeed, in what was then a predominantly black and white publication, with only a limited number of photos and a few graphics each week (mainly maps) to relieve the monotony of text blocks, the attention paid to the quality of this text would be foreign to many young journalists working today. So when I migrated to Australia in 1970 and began work as a journalist in Sydney, imagine my surprise to find many Australian journalists had a collection of favourite stories about awful errors in the pages of Time.
What I hadn’t appreciated as a starry-eyed young American, of course, was that Time, in spite of the best efforts of a worldwide stable of correspondents, was very much a US publication with a typically American self-centredness. The facts and impressions recorded and reported so diligently by international correspondents were, at that time, the raw material from which New York writers and editors built up Time's international stories. Canada was an exception. Time ran an editorial office there and produced four or so pages of Canadian content in a special section of each issue. And in the late 1960s, there was some discussion about setting up such an office in Sydney. But nothing like the Canadian editorial office ever existed in Australia, where Time maintained a production centre, but not an editorial facility. Anyway, to Time's founders America was the centre of the known universe, and ‘America’ meant the United States. Their successors who were my bosses seemed to narrow the focus even further, and the Time-Life Building in Rockefeller Center became the epicentre of the universe. And working for what everyone at Time considered the most important newsmagazine in the world, one came gradually to share this view.
Time's proofreading department was the battlefront on which the magazine waged war on errors. To get a job as a proofreader, I had to study my Webster’s Dictionary and the Time-Style manual (I remember this as a collection of loose-leaf sheets). I was then 'briefed' for the proofreading test by a friend of my first husband, who also worked for the company. But even with this insider preparation, I found the subsequent test formidable.
The proofreading test consisted of a 60-centimetre-long galley proof of a story that contained more errors than I had ever then or have ever since seen in one magazine-length story. Every kind of grammatical inaccuracy and semantic confusion, as well as obvious factual error, seemed to be represented. The biggest problem was finding enough space in the margins to show corrections, which had to be very precisely indicated, using the correct proofreader’s marks. It was also essential to distinguish between 'queries' and 'corrections’. But since the working methods of Time proofreaders were quite different from the conditions in which the test was administered, some latitude was allowed on this point.
After about 20 minutes, my corrected galley was checked by the large, taciturn man who was the boss of the typesetters. I remember sitting at his desk in a deserted office on a Monday or Tuesday, which would have been the only time of the week when his office was not full of running, yelling copyboys, writers, typesetters and layout staff. Blue pencil in one hand, red in the other, he studied my corrections. All around us were scattered the remains of the previous week's galleys and drafts. I learned later that cleaning ladies at Time were trained to clean around piles of old galleys and discarded layouts. At most, they picked up material off the floor and placed it neatly on tables. But deciding what could safely be thrown away was not considered a job for cleaning staff, who might not recognise that some torn bit of galley or layout needed to be kept for one reason or another. As a result, by the end of the week all production offices looked like a disaster zone. And the first job of the week for production staff was to sort through the previous week's mess and file or discard every piece of paper.
I was supposed to have corrected a certain number of errors in order to pass the test. Some allowance was made for the limited time I’d been given, because in theory at least, proofreaders were supposed to be given as much time as they required. When my corrections had been ticked and counted, my total came up two or three marks below the ‘pass mark’. Discovering this, the old typesetter, whose reputation for gruffness and bluntness had already caused me two weeks' anxiety, quietly took his blue pencil and added a few more correct answers on my behalf.
'You're a bright kid,' he said, 'and you betta not make me sorry about this later.' Then he winked at my nearby ‘sponsors’ and told me to report back next Thursday for on-the-job training. It seems I was now a Time proofreader.
In the second article in this series, I'll describe what it was like to work in Time's production department in the 1960s.


29 April 2011

Charlotte Maudie Hazelwood

Here she is: my granddaughter, Charlotte Maudie Hazelwood, born on 19 April, weighing 8.4 pounds. Obviously, that's Mum and Dad (Zoe and Brandon) sharing the spotlight.


Charlotte is ten days old today, and a perfect picture of happy, contented babyhood.

Oh, Mum's doing well, too. In fact, she and Dad have taken to parenthood like ducks to water. They share all the tasks (even the messiest ones), acting as if they've been doing the job for years. I'm so proud of them all. And privileged to be allowed to share in the great joy of welcoming a new baby into their lives.




18 April 2011

All's well on the home-front

After such a long time without posts, I have to start somewhere. So this is a just quick update of a few recent goings-on. But that's not to suggest there's really any excuse for my long silence. One simply gets out of the habit of posting. And as with letter-writing in the 'olden days', the longer you put off writing, the harder it gets to start.
 
On the home front, the news has been all about...RAIN. And lots of it. In the last four months alone, we've had more rain (1865mm) than in all of 2007 (1700mm) when eastern Australia was in the grip of drought. Of course, 2010 was was the year this state's drought finally broke: we had 2760mm of rain last year, 745mm of which fell in December alone! That had devastating consequences in many parts of Queensland this summer, though thankfully not in our area. Up here in the hilly hinterland we are relatively flood-free, though water poured down every hillside, including from the hill above our block.  

 
 I lost one whole bed of vegetables to the excess run-off, except for the row of Asian khon khang which was just getting started at the front of this bed when I took these pix. Eventually it ran riot over the whole soggy bed, and spread out over the path but everything else died. 

So in recent weeks Nev (a handyman who is truly deserving of that title) has helped to correct some drainage problems. (Well, 'helped' is not accurate; he did ALL the work; I was only the planner.)

Water can now flow freely over rocks, into the drain
Nev dug out the bank where water flows down from the hillside above our house, and replaced the clay with stones. That should prevent mud from clogging up the good drains I already had running down that side of the property – deep rock-filled drains with agricultural pipe at the bottom, that take the water away down toward the dam at the bottom of our property. In time I hope these rocks will discolour to a warmer shade. But as long as they do their job, I'll be happy. I expect a lovely waterfall here the next time we get big rains.

Raised vegie bed with additional rainwater drains
That problem bed in the vegie garden has been raised and a new drain added all around it – with ag pipe at the bottom of a deep trench filled with stones. That should direct water away from this vegie bed and down into the paddock, joining up with another drain there that channels water coming down from our driveway and parking area. The bank of soil we left alongside the vegie bed drain, still covered by tarps here, will be mulched next week.

Eventually I may plant the khon khang along that bank, and an armful of it is already taking root in a bucket of water, ready for transplanting. This Asian green is good in salads when young, and can also be added to stir-fries, though it hasn't much flavour itself and has to be jazzed up with sauces. But it's rather vigorous, so must be kept away from dams. Up here near the top of the block, it won't do any harm. And it will grow well anywhere other vegies would drown. 

My relatively new lemon tree, on the hill above the vegie garden, is carrying a nice little crop in its second year since planting. I just trawled through my plant tags but couldn't find one for the lemon, so I can't tell you the variety. But they're big, smooth, thinly skinned fruit with lots of juice.


Just alongside the lemon is a little grove of lady finger bananas. We've just finished the first bunch of the season, and there are another three bunches almost ready to pick. I have to cut them down green or else turkeys, possums and flying foxes eat some and damage others. A green bunch will usually ripen in a week or two. But after the first week, unless I'm giving some away, I put half the bunch into the fridge to delay ripening. Otherwise we have a glut of bananas all at once, then none for weeks. And with so much of the state's banana crop wiped out by this summer's severe floods, we're relying exclusively on our own supplies this year!

Also on the hill above the vegie garden is a thriving little batch of peppermint. I'm the only person I know who has always had trouble growing mint. It's supposed to spread so easily, as this one has. But in the past it hasn't liked something about my soil or my climate. But in this very wet year, I planted one punnet of mint and it just took off. I pick large handfuls every afternoon and make us a pot of mint tea. And I'm about to harvest even more to make a few litres of mint sauce before it dies down in the coming dry winter season.


 But none of this is the really important news I hope to be posting this week. So watch this space closely in the next few days...



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.