20 November 2012

My Baby Bear

Later this week Allen and I will be going down to collect our little Baby Bear, and bringing her back to stay with us for the weekend. This will be only her third visit without her parents. And though she keeps us on our toes, there is nothing but fun and joy from her 6am wake-up until bedtime about 12 hours later. (And she has a good nap at least once a day, so we get to put our feet up then.)

Hooray indeed! BB is 19 months old and has a vocabulary that's expanding every day. I must try to video her giving us a rundown of all the words that she recognises the meaning of, and can say in some fashion (e.g. parts of the body, important people in her life, favourite foods, ABC characters – Angelina Ballerina being a particular favourite, but which as yet consists mainly of vowels ("aa--ii--aa). Ditto Bananas in Pyjamas! Studying her language development is even more interesting than the linguistic courses I loved all those years ago.

BB's facility to remember details is equally astounding. When she arrives here it may be more than a month since she and her parents last visited. Even so, she will go directly to the things she remembers from a previous visit – the drawer containing plastic containers she's allowed to play with, the glass-fronted bookcase whose door she's attracted to though she knows she isn't allowed to rattle (looking at me guiltily while patting it), a bunch of display baskets she's allowed to take off a shelf, a set of dominoes that she loves to move from one container to another, a collection of garden labels taken off plants I've planted in my garden. These she will load and unload into a basket, studying each label intently and 'reading' the text on the reverse of each picture. Exposed to books since birth, she clearly knows that print contains a message. And in a sing-song babble that only she understands, she will 'read' aloud from each label.

Perhaps because Allen's memory is slipping away, and it's so hard (almost imposible) for him to learn new tasks or remember instructions, I am fascinated and overjoyed to watch BB's young brain making (and retaining) dozens, maybe hundreds, of new 'connections' every day. Hers is a healthy brain displaying plasticity in all its wonders. What a welcome antidote to the experience of living under the cloud of Allen's deteriorating brain.

19 November 2012

The rain makes 100

I've been waiting for a special reason to post this, my 100th blog entry! What better way to celebrate than by reporting the first good rain of the season. Literally, all my bowls runneth over! And the birds that use them every day are diving and dipping in a particularly carefree way. They too no doubt know the rains have come.

The distortion inside this bowl is the effect of rain pouring down, filling it and every other garden receptacle that until now I'd been topping up by hand. And even though we only got 33ml, this rainfall on Saturday had a serious feeling to it. It came down hard and fast.

Now, two days later we are sweltering in the kind of temperatures that usually precede a storm, so I'm hopeful there's more rain to come. In any case, the garden has been completely refreshed and the dust of winter washed off all surfaces.

I walked around the house to admire the dripping scenes from all sides. And after the storm, both Allen and I went out to enjoy a strange pastel sunset. I was too awestruck by the pale blue and tangerine streaks to think of photographing it, but I doubt the camera could have done it justice.

Only those of you who have relied on rainwater for your household needs can appreciate how much it means to feel the first rain of the season on your face. When I lived in cities I never even knew what time of year the rains came – or if there was a time when it rained more than at other times.

Now I can smell the rain coming. And if I have any doubt, I can walk down into the paddock and see if the ants are building up mounds of soil at the entrace to their holes. I'm not sure why they do that, but how high they build gives a pretty good idea how much rain we'll get. No matter where I live in future, I'll never take rain for granted again. Nor should we.

06 November 2012

Just another day in the garden

Today I got back into the garden after a week or so of doing no serious outdoor work. Come to think of it, I did plant out six different salvia plants yesterday that I bought recently at an Open Garden about 30km from here. In that garden many kinds of salvias were flourishing, so I bought a half dozen different varieties at the sale table and I'll try them out here. I have a dry hilly slope above my carport which already has a variety of small native trees and bushes well established, but on one part of that hill I've had to cut down a few of these because they were a danger to the overhead lines that carry electricity to my house from the street. So I'll try out some salvias in this area and see if any of them survive or maybe even flourish.

04 November 2012

Me and The New York Review of Books

For a month or so, I have been debating whether or not to renew our annual subscription to The New York Review of Books. Allen used to be devoted to this publication, and would read most issues from cover to cover. I tended to browse through each copy (dilettante that I am), picking out for closer reading just one or two articles that appealed. Sometimes, I confess, whole issues would go onto the shelf without my having even done that. At least many of the articles remain just as relevant months, even years, later. So we do have quite a collection of old editions on hand, and could probably spend a year or two revisiting these before we noticed an absence of new ones.

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.