Friday, 22 September 2017

Earthquakes in Mexico,

hurricanes, floods, war...the threat of war...
It goes on.
There's a war going on that is getting very little attention - the war in Yemen. 
I am not going to say anything about the rights or wrongs of that war...all war is wrong.
What I want to say here is that one of the aid workers sent his colleagues (of whom I am one) a message yesterday. Translated it reads like this,
      Today has been the worst day yet. This has been the worst week. We lost 9 children last night - 71 this week. There will be more tonight. There is nothing I can do. We have not enough supplies. The cholera takes them quickly. (Perhaps) better than the slow malnutrition. What am I saving them for? They fear everything....
There is more like that. It's the cry of despair from a man who has seen more horrors than most. He's being pulled out. He's exhausted. His colleagues are exhausted. They can't see an end to the horrors they are seeing. They don't see their job as restoring people to health any more, rather as giving people the best palliative care they can offer when they have nothing to offer. 
How can people be so determined to gain power and control that they can allow that amount of suffering to occur?  There will be an entire generation of children who are malnourished, who aren't getting a proper education  - and will be too malnourished to get the benefit they should get from an education if it becomes available. They will be so traumatised that they they may never recover.
Yes, all war and disaster zones are like that  but we seem to be forgetting the one in Yemen...and that young doctor is suffering the consequences. It's his country, the country he was born in. He thought he could cope but the effect on aid workers can be terrible too. 
A  Rohingya refugee here spends his days in the library at a computer. He is trying to get support for the plight of his fellow Rohingya but he is also surprisingly wary of what he says.
      "Do not say Aung San Suu Kyi is doing nothing," he told me. "She has almost no power. The army rule Burma. If she says too much or if she says the wrong thing then the army will put her under house arrest again." 
And yes, they probably will. 
There are limits to the power of people like the young aid worker to endure. There are limits to the power of people like the Aung San Suu Kyi to make changes and demand changes from others.  It is easy from outside a country to say "this is wrong" and then "change it" but there is so much we don't know.  

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The "get well" card

is on two pieces of bright red cardboard. There are brightly coloured fish, an octopus under some pieces of white polystyrene "seaweed", another octopus avoiding the fish, a whale rising out of the water. There are tiny little fluffy balls which are sea urchins. It's a work of art.
It has also been made with that glorious determination of small children to  get something "just right". 
Our young neighbour is nearly four. He's smart, funny - and kind. He has highly intelligent parents who are kind and concerned and he is learning from their care and concern. His mother is a paediatrician - but she "doesn't mind the odd bit of gerontology" when it comes to a neighbour. I am grateful for that. I won't call on her services except in an extreme emergency. That would be wrong but she has made it clear that she is, in such an emergency, available. 
Yesterday she brought young T.... and his baby brother over so that the card could be delivered. I admired it properly. A moment ago I was able to honestly tell T... that the Senior Cat was impressed.  And it is the sort of thing he will treasure. He still has drawings his grandsons did for him.
And it reminded me that, tucked away, I have a "portrait" of me done by a three year old. I reminded the artist's sister of this several years ago. She responded by saying, "And I still have the cat you drew for me - your special one."
I am no artist. I don't try to be but I can draw those vaguely cat-like squiggles and K.... had kept it. I had come back to Downunder and her mother wrote and asked, "Can you draw K.... one of your cats?" Of course I could...although I thought she would lose it when she had tried it for herself...but she didn't....
and that means much more than the shapes on the paper. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Senior Cat is now home from hospital

and although they might have kept him there a little longer I am relieved to have him here. We did wonder about a week's respite for me but he would absolutely hate, loathe and detest a nursing home. He would also have gone without a grumble but he is intellectually too sharp to endure one of those places for long.
The ambulance staff who took him to hospital were lovely. The nursing staff were kind and helpful. The consultant physician just laughed when he mistook her for a nurse. ("Well how was I to know. She was wearing a stripey jumper the first time I saw her.")  His only complaint was the food - and that is universally considered to be "dreadful". He has strong views on porridge - having Scots ancestry - and bread is not "some white chewy stuff". There was no toast. He does not eat pork so the "roast pork" meal was not much use to him either. 
I made bread today (or the machine did) and proper soup with a lot of "things" in it. Tomorrow he can shepherd's pie (comfort food) and on Thursday it will be tuna mornay - which I will make tomorrow.
Also tomorrow we have someone coming to help  him shower three times a week for the next fortnight. He hasn't the energy to do that himself at present - and we might assess the situation at the end of that time. 
I am due to help my friend at the craft fair on Thursday until Sunday but I won't stay as long as I usually do.  
Now I am waiting for him to curl up on his sleeping mat again - then I can go and curl up on mine. We both need a lot of catnap right now!
But, before I prowl off, I would like to sincerely thank everyone for the good wishes. It does make a difference and, as I said in the comments on the last post "thinking of you" - however it is put - is a very important phrase in any language. Thanks.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Senior Cat is in hospital

Normal blog services will resume shortly I hope... I had to call an ambulance last night. We both have an influenza virus of some sort (despite vaccinations) and he needed much more help than I could give him. 
Ambulance people wonderful but I was at the hospital until 11:45 pm and need to go back shortly as he doesn't even have his glasses.
This cat is planning on prowling back to full health rapidly. I don't have time to be ill.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Planning permission

is a minefield.
There is a story in this morning's paper which, if correct, is one of the worst possible examples of the mess our local planning laws are in.  
If it is correct then a new  house will be demolished. It will be demolished although it was approved on three separate occasions.  There is nothing wrong with the house - but the neighbours don't like it. They say it intrudes on their privacy - despite measures being put in place to screen them.
The editor of the paper, who wrote the story, has suggested that the council should be paying for the mess to be cleaned up. They approved the building through the relevant department.
I am inclined to agree.
I went to see someone recently. She showed me the foundations which had been poured for the new house being built next door. In order to do this their own fence had been taken down - without their permission. Fortunately they don't have a dog but, if there had been a dog, who would have been responsible? The foundations also come up almost to the very boundary line. Yes, it is going to be intrusive.
They knew none of this before the foundations were laid. I doubt she or her husband could read a plan even if they had been given one. The plans are there for the builders, for the architect, the council planners and the department to work on. 
The woman in question is reluctant to complain. She doesn't want to upset the people who will be her new neighbours, especially as they are of a different ethnic background. The new house will however have a negative impact on the value of their property. It should not have been allowed to  happen either.
In the case in the paper it seems the owners of the house to be demolished have, if the report is correct, attempted to do the right thing. When a complaint was made they modified the design - twice. They gained approval. That should have been enough. The planning people did a u-turn on the last complaint. If correct then yes, the council needs to take some responsibility for what has happened. The owners are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt through no fault of their own. 
I don't know where that will go. I suspect the owners will lose because  to make the council liable will open up a huge area of litigation that nobody will want.
But I wonder what would have happened if similar action had been taken over some of the houses we were forced to live in when I was a kitten. The Senior Cat  was sent to rural areas. There was no housing available there so the government provided fibro-asbestos houses. They were the cheapest possible kind of house that could be built. The walls are thin. There is no insulation. I know that at least one of these houses is more than sixty years old and still being lived in although it was considered "temporary".  I imagine it still has the old "Metters no. 5" wood burning stove - and perhaps even the wood-chip hot water  heater in the bathroom?  
There was one house we lived in where the builders had failed to clear the land properly. The houses are built on little stilts and the trees were struggling to grow back underneath. Middle Cat and I spent two years sleeping on mattresses on the floor because there was no way to get beds into the bedroom. Our parents had single beds head to toe against the wall of another room. The house was, supposedly, new. There had been no oversight of the building of it though so the inexperienced builders had simply done something they thought  was good enough - skimping at the same time.
In another place the beds has to go in through the windows. That might happen in old, narrow houses in Europe - but in a new house in Downunder? The roof leaked there too - because the builders hadn't followed the plans.
Planning permission is essential. We would be in a mess without it.
It seems we can be in a mess with it too.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

"Franklin's Flying Bookshop"

is one of those glorious, quirky, stay-with-you books that all children - young and old - should experience. The author, Jen Campbell, has outdone herself this time.
Franklin flew in to visit me this week. I had been prowling impatiently as I waited for him to arrive. Would the postman bring him today? No. Tomorrow? No. Now? Yes!
I had been hearing reports about this impeccably well mannered dragon with exquisite reading tastes and I wanted to meet him. He did not disappoint me.
He is just my sort of dragon. I have been especially fond of dragons ever since reading Rosemary Manning's "Green Smoke" as a child. What sort of dragon would Jen have written about? The answer was both simple and complex. 
Franklin likes to read. He wants to read stories to people -  but people are afraid of him. Then he meets a small human, Luna. Luna likes dragons and together....  I won't spoil the rest of the story. Read it for yourself.
I passed Franklin over to the Senior Cat. At 94 the Senior Cat has not outgrown picture books. He still enjoys reading them. If there were small humans around who needed stories to be read to them he would tell them about Franklin with the greatest of pleasure. He has already said we must get more copies of the book to pass on to those who live in far away places. 
What was it about the book he liked I asked. He smiled and said, "It reminds me of AA Milne. It has that same sort of quirkiness, the quirkiness which stays with you. I like the idea of a dragon being able to read by the light of the moon....of using a bookcase as a door to keep the wind out..."
I really don't want to say more about the story. 
It's a book about differences and accepting those differences. It is a book about what others have to offer and a book about books and what they have to offer. It is a book filled with wonderful images - and yes, those illustrations by Katie Harnett complement the text in just the way they should. Franklin is the most excellently drawn dragon. Luna's delight in meeting you is obvious.
Thank you Jen. Franklin's here for a very long visit!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Silical gel pads should not be

put into washing machines.
Do not ask why this happened. Let it just be said that your resident cat has spent the last 40 or so minutes cleaning up the resultant mess.  
I have discovered a lot about silica gel in the process - and I hope I do not discover any more. I just hope it has not irrevocably harmed the washing machine. It is going through another cycle right now and it appears to be working. 
I have also swept and vacuumed the laundry floor. 
And I did not get cross with the Senior Cat because he felt bad enough anyway.
Normal blog service will resume tomorrow.