31 July 2012

Reality bites

The fifth annual Reality Bites festival of nonfiction literature was held last weekend here at our beautiful Cooroy Library on the Sunshine Coast. In past years I was a member of the Sunshine Hinterland Writers Centre committee that organises the festival each year, and an enthusiastic volunteer helping out at festival events. This year, however, the progression of Allen's condition made it too difficult for me to attend committee meetings, usually held in the evenings. And then when Allen was hospitalised with pneumonia in January, I had to give up any involvement in festival preparations. But as festival time rolled around, one of the women who has been a key organiser of each year's festival and who knew I'd have liked to remain involved asked if I might be able to do some of the catering for events on three successive days of the weekend festival.

11 July 2012

"Let us go then you and I..." *

Oh dear. No posts since the end of May. Well, yes, Allen's been sick with a nasty bronchial infection. And then we've had more than six weeks of twice-weekly visits to the doctor for dressings on Allen's foot, where the removal of a small skin cancer left a deep hole that a skin graft didn't succeed in closing. Both those issues seem now to be on the mend, though not finished. Then there've been several visitors, including grandson Sam during his school holidays, my daughter and grand-daughter for a weekend and a very dear old friend for our traditional winter get-together to share glasses of wine while watching stages of Le Tour de France. (She flew home this morning. But will Cadel win again this year? Fingers crossed please.) None of that really excuses what has really been (yet more) laziness on my part, but...... 

I have been busy in the garden – more than ably assisted by a trusty handyman who is the person responsible for recent massive weed eradication (which was underway when I last posted), then heavy mulching of many garden areas and various other useful tasks. For my part I've been repotting bromeliads to make a nice little 'brom walk' between house and studio. I'm very pleased with the results. These plants were all gifts from our children or from one of the couples in our aphasia group, who have a massive collection. They all did well last year and so I've separated pups and replanted in the recommended friable mixture, with lots of gravel at the bottom of each pot for good drainage. By next year I hope to again double the number of plants.

You might remember in my last post I mentioned that my neighbour had come round and cut back a dozen or so lilly pillies growing on a hillside above our house. These small native evergreens had grown into tall little trees whose foliage was overhanging the carport and making a mess in the rainwater gutters.

Well all that area has now been well mulched, and the beautiful new growth on the lilly pilly trunks is coming in, the glossy little leaves all red or red-tinged – this new growth being one of the most pleasing features of these plants. Soon there'll again be enough cover to attract the whip birds that often patrol this patch of garden.

On the western side of the house the frangipani (or plumeria) that shade us from the heat of the summer's setting sun have just about finished dropping their leaves for the wintertime. But as beautiful as these trees are when clothed in their big summertime leaves and fragrant flowers, there's something just as lovely about the naked winter boughs, especially when seen on a cold and misty afternoon such as this one.

And speaking of mist, what magic it works on the various greens and blue-greens that seem to dominate at this time of year. Here on my front terraces, everything (rosemary, gardenias, lime tree, palms down near the pool and even the old washing copper that Walle drinks from) has taken on a different hue in the light of an unusually foggy late afternoon. I'm reminded of scenes from deserted temple gardens in northern Vietnam where we once spent a holiday during a cold, wet month much like this one.

None of this worries Walle, of course, who happily goes about his doggy business in any weather whatsoever. ("Now where did I bury that bone?") I got tired of having to wipe down his soggy legs and comb the grass seeds out of his shaggy coat, and so at his recent haircut I had him trimmed right back, much to the horror of the lovely and patient lady groomer who no doubt thinks labradoodles deserve more appreciative and long-suffering owners!

Walle himself doesn't mind, however. He's happily practising his sphinx pose, hoping for a slot on the next Christmas card. But I think I'll have to let him grow back a more shapely mane before then, as befits the breed.

Well this has been a grab-bag of goodies. But if it helps me get back the habit of reflecting on and sharing some of what makes life worth living up here in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, then I hope my friends will indulge me a little.

(* "Let us go then you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table..." No particular relevance to this post, but I found the opening lines of this poem well evoke the misty late afternoon light and mood that was around when I took most of these garden photos. Go here to read all of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock.)

About me

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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.