Sunday 30 June 2019

Afternoon tea

was once an elegant occasion - sandwiches, scones, cake and tea.
"Ladies" dressed for it. Their hats stayed firmly on their heads as they held the tea cups in the approved manner.
I  thought of all this yesterday. Despite the atrocious weather we went out to afternoon tea. Our dear friend P....collected us in her car and we went off to visit her niece C... and C's partner. We had cake and cheese and biscuits and nibbly things and mugs and sat around the long table. When the Greek neighbours arrived we had more Greek food as well.
And everyone talked a lot.
But I also thought about afternoon tea. I make the Senior Cat a cup of tea for what would have been "morning recess" and "afternoon recess" at school. He doesn't eat cake or even - except on the rarest occasion - a biscuit with it. It is simply a cup of tea.
I know other people who grab the biscuit tin but the biscuits will be the commercial variety. There is an entire aisle in the supermarket which has one side devoted to biscuits. I have never tried most of them, indeed have no desire to do so. 
And I know C... is not at all keen on such things. She is one of those people who takes an intelligent interest in food. C.... knows her cookbooks. 
So yesterday I made one of the few things I can usually make reasonably successfully - a savoury cornbread. It has cheese in it. I have, over the years, experimented. You can add other things to it in a way that it ends up being almost a complete meal in itself. Yesterday I added courgette (zucchini), carrot and chives. I made two loaves - just in case one broke as I was turning it out of the tin.
Neither did. When it was cold I wrapped one ready for C...  I cut the one which was slightly overcooked in half and gave one half to P... so she could share it with her housemate B....
And the other half is there for us today. We won't eat it as afternoon tea but it will, I hope, be good with soup for our light evening meal. 
But I do wonder about afternoon tea. There are all those cakes and biscuits I have never tasted .... not the shop bought variety but the real thing. 
Am I missing out on something?

Saturday 29 June 2019

Reading schemes

- remember those?
And yes, they are still around. I was reminded of them this week because a friend posted a message about her granddaughter being disappointed when she had to read a reading scheme book. Apparently she wanted to get on with whatever else she was reading at the time.
I started school at a time when "Primer One" and "Primer Two" were still in use but the "Schonell" reading scheme was just starting. (The Schonell scheme had the dreadfully smug and good Dick and Dora, Nip the dog and Fluff the cat.)
I had read all these before I started school. I was bored silly by them. Looking back I must have been the biggest nuisance in the class. 
I went on to the primary school years where we had the "Radiant Readers". Our "readers" were given to us at the beginning of the  year. I read mine the day it was given to me. I can still remember the halting reading of so many other children as we were expected to go around the room and each read a sentence in turn.
    "Slowly Cat, so everyone can follow it."
Ugh! I must have been a horrible child.
For the last two years of the primary school my family headed into the almost-outback. There was no school library. Will the Children's Country Lending Service people ever realise how much borrowing those books meant to me and my brother and the eldest son of the bank manager? Probably not. We devoured what we considered to be "real" books.
And there was the reading scheme again. The Senior Cat somehow persuaded the "school committee" to spend limited funds on something called the "SRA Laboratory". (SRA was/is Science Research Associates.) There were "levels" for this. There was a test beforehand and you were put into the appropriate level. Then you read cards with stories on them and answered the questions.
As the Senior Cat was teaching four different year levels and supervising a fifth all in the same room I have no doubt at all that this made his life easier.
The cards had colour bands for the level you were on. I remember the top level for that particular box being "gold". The Senior Cat put me (and the bank manager's son) into the level below that. 
    "I have to give you something to do," he told us.
My brother (two years younger) was on the next level down for much the same reason. 
We all zipped through the cards anyway. I read the entire box and then helped some of the slowest readers work their way painfully through their cards. (There were some very slow students in the school. Intermarriage in the area was common.) 
I wonder now what those children made of the stories on those cards. I remember the stories being American in flavour. All they had done in those early versions was replace American spelling with British spelling.  There were stories about Red Indians and the Mayflower and life on the prairies. The prairie stories were nothing like Little House on the Prairie of course.
The Senior Cat and my mother went on to write books for another reading scheme. I wrote many more outlines for them to use with the vocabulary which was considered appropriate. It all got lost with the demise of the excellent Reading Centre - a resource teachers should never have lost.  
Ms W had a reading scheme at her school but I never saw the books. She brought other books home from the school library. We went to the local library for more.  She reads - a lot.
T.... across the road started school this year. He is still learning to read of course. He brings home "reading scheme" books. Some of them are rather good.
    "But my mummy or daddy reads to me every night from a proper book."
T...knows what he considers to be a "proper" book and it isn't one from his reading scheme. Those are just for learning to read. There is an entirely different world of "proper" books out there - and he is impatient to read them. I am glad he knows about such things.

Friday 28 June 2019

Woolly socks

are essential.
The Senior Cat has chilblains. This is hardly surprising. He is old, very old. His circulation is not as good as it used to be. He cannot exercise as much as he once did. (How many years ago did he stop riding his bike to school each day? It set a wonderful example to the teachers and students under his care.)
The Senior Cat also has good woolly socks. He has a number of pairs of good woolly socks. They have been made for him by a friend of ours....and one pair by yours truly. (I am not particularly fond of knitting socks.)
    "Wear your woolly socks," I kept telling the Senior Cat. He was complaining his feet were cold.
    "They are too good to wear around home. I might wear holes in them too."
Pause here for a silent scream from me. 
The Senior Cat went to the podiatrist. Middle Cat took him. The podiatrist said,
      "I think you have cellulitis...make an appointment to see the doctor."
Middle Cat did that and muttered to me, "She might be right but it might just be.... a chilblain."
They went to see the doctor yesterday. It was a chilblain.
      "Wear some good woolly socks," the doctor told him. Middle Cat bought another pair of good woolly socks for him while she was in the chemist. 
He came home and grumbled about "those woolly socks" being too good to wear around home.
I gently pointed out that he does not often go out these days and that he might feel more comfortable if his rear paws were warmer. 
Nothing more was said.
I have just heard him get up for the day. He gets himself dressed - sort of dressed anyway.
Will he be wearing a pair of woolly socks? 

Thursday 27 June 2019

There was a maths problem

someone put on her timeline yesterday. She asked for answers. Here's the problem.
 50 + 50 - 25 x 0 + 2 + 2 =?
Now I thought I was reasonably good at counting on all four paws and I came up with answer I thought was right. It was the same answer that a good many other people came up with as well. 
Apparently we are all wrong. "You don't do maths like that anymore."
That bothers me. 
I was never wildly fond of "arithmetic" in my primary school days. I could do it but it wasn't particularly interesting. I was always losing marks - not for getting the answers incorrect but for "untidy" work. There is not much fun in that.
In high school the subject was divided into things like geometry, algebra and trigonometry. (I have forgotten how to use "log tables".)
I went on to university and had to do statistics. I hated statistics but I knew I had to pass the subject. (Yes, I did.)  Even now I have to know about statistics. I read them with a jaundiced eye. Yes, it is all too easy to manipulate them.
But I thought basic maths had not changed. I thought that in the ordinary, everyday world "two and two" still made four. Perhaps it does. I am not sure.
Maths is important, very important. We need mathematicians. 
I remember my friend J..., now sadly deceased. He had a doctorate in maths. His thesis was a mere eleven pages in length. After he had explained I think I understood what he had done but I didn't understand the thesis itself. It was full of symbols I had, to the best of my knowledge, never seen before. Despite that J... and I were good friends.
I have seen my friend R...'s son giving a lecture - and the board he was working on was filled with the same sort of thing. I have waited and waited and waited while two more mathematical friends argued over how something should be worked. (I put my paws over my ears and read some of a half written thesis while I waited.)
I don't really need to know the complex sort of mathematics but I do need to know the basic sort - not just arithmetic but the occasional bit of geometry and algebra and - of course - those damned statistics. 
What I also know is that I won't be helping the young ones do their homework. 
And what is the answer to the above problem...? I'll let you work it out - answer later.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

I was given an unexpected gift

yesterday - a bag with cats all over it. I have other bags with cats on them (I like them!) but this one will be especially useful because it folds into a smaller bag. 
The cats are not in the least bit realistic and that somehow makes them even more fun.  They are blue, red, purple, green, yellow and more. They have checks and spots and stars.
It was a lovely present to get - especially for no reason at all. 
And I thought about such things as I pedalled home. 
I like to give people things too -  unexpected things. I gave someone a biscuit (cookie) cutter recently. It was just a little thing I happened to find on a rack in a shop. It should not have been where it was. Someone had obviously picked it up and put it down in the wrong place. 
No, they don't need to be big. I can remember someone, who knows about such things, telling me that one of the personal gifts Queen Elizabeth has really appreciated is a "handbag clip" - something that holds her handbag down at a table she is sitting at. I can well imagine that might be very useful for someone in her position. 
I don't often go deliberately looking for something for someone I will just happen to see something and think, "That's just right for X.... " If I have the money, and it will usually only be a tiny amount, then I will buy it. I might put the object to one side for a bit knowing that the time is not yet right but it will be there waiting to do the "thank you" or the "you need a hug" or "I just wanted to say..." or even "there is no reason but I saw it and you need it".
I have had varying reactions to such gifts but they have, apart from once, been positively received. I have seen the things that can be used, used. I made a scarf for someone who has moved interstate. Recently she sent a photograph of herself wearing it.  I was told about the outing. The scarf wasn't mentioned again but it was there and I could see it was being used. That's good. It's the sort of silent thanks that means so much.
I can't remember all the small gifts I have given. I wish I could remember all the small gifts I have been given.
What I do remember is that one gift which was rejected but even that gave me something - the determination to go on doing it to others.. 
I will go on giving the people I love and know and like little things - for no good reason at all.   

Tuesday 25 June 2019

It seems we are being told what we can say

 (or the case of Israel Folau) and, now, perhaps what we can think as well.
Two interesting things happened yesterday.
The first was that the GoFundMe page set up by Israel Folau to help fund his "unfair dismissal" claim was taken down. GoFundMe refused to allow it.
Now I happen to find Folau's views abhorrent but he was quoting 
1 Corinthians 6:9–10;
Or do you not know that the unrighteous  will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:  neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

 and when someone gets dismissed for quoting the Bible then we do have a problem. It is something which needs to be resolved in a court of law - not for Folau's sake but for society's sake. Members of the legal profession I have spoken to are concerned about the situation. 
And yes, GoFundMe has allowed support for legal costs for "egg boy" - the teen who threw an egg at a politician during the election campaign. They have allowed fund raising to build a mosque - the imam of which has preached hatred towards those who practice homosexuality and much worse. There are all sorts of dubious demands being made on GoFundMe but I don't see Folau's as being one of them. It isn't that I support his view. I don't support that passage in Corinthians - but then I don't believe in hell so it would be difficult to do it. Indeed if Folau had left out the words about "homosexuality" it is unlikely that anyone would have said anything. That is the problem. He isn't advocating violence. It might, I suppose, even be argued that he is expressing concern. 
The Bible is not a banned book. Quoting from it should not cause you to lose your job. Suggesting that, simply because you are a high profile sports figure, you can't say those things but others can may well be discriminatory. That is something for a court to decide - not an organisation which is afraid of losing sponsorship dollars.
I suspect that all GoFundMe has succeeded in doing is increase support for Folau. 
The other interesting thing which happened was that Ravelry - a group around eight million knitters have joined and many more know about - has banned, effectively immediately, posting anything in support of Donald Trump or his administration. I have to confess I wasn't aware that anyone was even doing that - but then I don't spend much time there. I don't "chat" on the groups there. I use the site in other ways. Why would anyone want to mix knitting with politics?
I am grateful I am not living in America under the Trump administration but the blanket ban does bother me. It wasn't handled well. People don't like to be told "you can't do that" when it is legal to do something. It would have been better handled in other ways. 
Perhaps what is really bothering me now is that there seem to be more and more moves to try and control not just what we say but, in doing that, control what we think. We are being asked to simply accept that contrary views are wrong and that there is no room for debate.
That is very dangerous indeed.

Monday 24 June 2019

We once lived on an island

and, despite all the romantic notions, it was not a good place to live. The Senior Cat was posted to the big "area" school in the middle of the island. There were problems there and he had been given the posting as the school principal specifically to try and sort the problems out.
Some problems could be dealt with, others could not. "Area" schools by their very nature have problems. Most of the children will come on buses. When the Senior Cat was in charge the buses were driven by teachers who lived at the end of the bus runs. The longest of these was over 70km to school in the morning and then 70km back after school.  The children lived in isolated farmhouses along the way. Their fathers were, for the most part, "soldier settlers" - men who had been to war and had been put onto the land as part of a scheme to provide employment after the war was over. They had problems too - and the isolated life often exacerbated it. 
These men and their families were regarded as "incomers" by the early settlers and were not made welcome. That had added to the problems.
Despite that, due to the isolation, the islanders tended to know each other. There were only about three and a half thousand people living on the island. You might not know a name but you tended to know the faces. Everyone knew your business. They knew whether you went to church and where, if you had been to the doctor, which young people were going out together, whose car had broken down and where - and much more. The entire island knew about my one and only time behind the wheel of a car - and the way I hit the hay bale. (No damage was done to the car but I was made aware that I was never going to learn to drive.)
It was, and probably still is, that sort of place. I have not been back. I have no desire to go back. People say it has changed in other sorts of ways. It is now a tourist destination. Ms W and her father went there for their summer holiday one year. She said it was "good" - but she would find anything like that good. Just going away with her father and not having a lot of other people around are her idea of a good time.
But in this morning's paper there is a report of a long time resident of the island, a man in his sixties, being arrested on charges of sexually abusing young boys. It will be devastating for the islanders. There is very little violence on the island. It may once,  in the very early days of settlement, had a reputation for being "wild" but that was in the 19thC. Crime is not unknown but it isn't common. When everyone knows the business of everyone else everyone will know who has been arrested and why.
It is going to be hard on the islanders - but they will be there for each other. 

Sunday 23 June 2019

"Do you like this colour?"

The question was a simple one. It had to be. K... can only look up for "yes" and down for "no" - and she does that with difficulty. Her intellectual capacity is limited.
K...lives in a group house. She has done so for almost a year now. It isn't an ideal situation but it is the best her mother can hope for. Her father died  within a fortnight of her moving in. It was as if he was waiting to see her settled. K...seems to like it well enough. The staff like her because, although she needs everything done for her, she has a ready smile.
Her mother, in her eighties can still just manage to bring K... home for a day. They will go for a walk. K... likes the shopping centre - there are lots of things to see there. She likes to come to the library even though books mean nothing to her. 
They came in yesterday and stopped by the knitting group for a moment so that K... could say "hello" to me. She looked around the room, spotted me and smiled - her way of saying "hello". It was at that point I held up the knitting and asked if she liked the colour.  Yes. 
Her mother still sees to it that K... is beautifully dressed. Being able to make some of them helps. It has made K.... aware of colours.
After they left the library we could see K... and her mother going across the footbridge over the creek. There were children playing there. It has been designed so that they can get down to where there is water if it has rained. There was a little bit of water in the bottom. There were ducks at the far end. I saw K..'s mother bend down close to her daughter and turn her head. She would have been showing her the ducks. K... likes to watch the ducks too.
K...'s intellectual and physical disabilities mean she leads a very limited life. She has never said a word.
But as I watched I saw that characteristic movement. K... was laughing at a duckling being chased by mother or father duck.
That brought smiles to the rest of us as well.

Saturday 22 June 2019

The parcel post

person came yesterday.
I had already been alerted by email to expect two parcels. (No, neither of them for me.) 
Now the parcel post person is supposed to ring the door bell even if the parcel can be left "in a safe place". As our "front" door is at the side of the house it is considered safe to leave things there.  I like to be home if I know a parcel is coming.
And I was. I was  picking up some "junk" mail from the neighbour's yard when the parcel van arrived. I  dumped the advertising material in the bin and waited for the parcel person to find the parcels in the van.
The parcel person is a woman. She's nice. She's friendly. And she is totally disorganised. The back of the van was in no sort of order at all. It wasn't loaded high as it sometimes is but it took her almost five minutes (I timed her) to find two parcels.
     "I know there were two!" she kept telling me.
     "Yes, I'm expecting two," I told her.
I described what the parcels would  be. The two elderly people I was getting them for had given me the tracking numbers and told me the contents. 
She couldn't find them. It didn't surprise me. The parcels were piled up in no particular order. There were big parcels on top of small parcels too so it wasn't as if she had packed them according to size.
     "I just put them in," she told me, "I know what's there."
I bit my lips together and said nothing although I had been about to suggest I go inside. She could bring them to the door when she had found them.
      "Here's one!" she told me triumphantly and passed it over. I waited some more...and some more.
       "If you can't find the other one...."
       "No, I know it's here. The e-bay one is white with their sticky stuff."
I waited again.
Yes, eventually she found it and passed it over with a cheerful, friendly smile.  I reminded her I had to sign for them.
I can't get cross with her but I wish she was more efficient.
I put both parcels in the trike  basket and, when lunch was over and the Senior Cat was snoozing I went and delivered them to the elderly.
      "Thank you so much dear. I hope it wasn't a bother. I can never get to the door in time and then someone has to go to the post office for me," one of them said.
I didn't like to tell her that even she would have had time to get to the door.


Friday 21 June 2019

The money should go to charity

and I hope it does.
I am not a party to the action in the Supreme Court so I won't get my say there but I have something I want to say.
The Senior Cat's cousin was a good man, a generous man, a kind man, a gentle man and a gentleman. He would be appalled by what is now happening.
D....made money, rather a lot of money out of a building system. He was an engineer and he invented and developed the system. In the beginning he had no money. His "office" was a public telephone box. He worked hard and he worked very long hours.
It was the thing that kept him going when the one true love of his life, M..., died of an inoperable brain tumour. M... was one of those lovely people who was missed by many but most of all by D... as they had no children.
It took many years before he met another woman. H.... was a divorcee who lived in another state. Perhaps that should have been a warning sign. She moved to this state to be closer to him. He took an interest in her children. One of the reasons for moving in fact was so that he could help one of her children get into university - the marks needed being lower here than interstate. He gave financial assistance too.
Over the years D... and H... went out together in the way older people do. They stayed over at one another's homes and were invited to birthdays and other occasions. D..., a lover of the sea, liked to go on cruises. It was not for the party life on board but for the destinations, the pleasure of simply being at sea and - perhaps - with H... when she went with him. He paid. 
But she would not marry him. She was asked. D... told me this himself. The relationship didn't die instantly. D... was not that sort of person. He would still be caring and polite. But the relationship did die.
At about that time D....'s SIL had to move into a nursing home. D... saw more of her sister.  They would share a coffee after visiting F... and he had some casual meals with her home. The friendship developed to the point where they would occasionally go to an event together, especially if D... needed a partner.
D....donated money to the hospitals in this state, a lot of money. P... would go with him - and heap praise on him for doing it. He asked her to go on a trip with him as he no longer wanted to travel alone.
"I'll pay," he told her.
"No, I'll pay for myself," was her reply, "I can afford it. I'm comfortable."
And they went - on those terms.
Shortly before he died D.... talked to me about changing his will. He had left the bulk of his estate to charity but H....still featured in it, as did her family.
     "I don't want them to have anything," he told me.
We discussed how he might change it. I advised him he might be well advised to leave some recognition to H.... but there was no need to acknowledge her now adult children. 
A little over a week later, before he had made any changes, he was dead. It was sudden and completely unexpected.
We were not aware of the provisions of his will, just that the bulk of it was intended for a range of charities. Yes, H.... was mentioned, as were her children.
Now, two years down the track, we have been shocked by a piece in the paper. H.... is taking action against the charities for a larger slice.  P... has been named as "the other woman" - a completely ridiculous assertion. 
Yes, there were warning signs now that I think about it. H... pounced when he died. She arranged a memorial service that no member of his family was able to attend. Her son-in-law, K..., phoned me in a fury about the obituary in the paper - H.... had not been mentioned. Even when I explained I had nothing to do with it - apart from answering some questions put to me by the journalist responsible - he was angry.  H... was everything to D....and adored him. They were his family.  H...'s daughter wrote a letter to me that positively spat the words out she was so furious.
K... was an executor of the will - the will written years before when everything was rosy and D... expected he would be marrying H.... and wanted to do what he saw as the right thing. They would have known the contents by then - and believed that, despite being mentioned, they were not getting enough.
They deserve nothing. They lived off D...'s generosity for years. His own blood relatives get nothing. They are not even mentioned in the will - at their own request.  They wanted the money to go to the charities he named. claiming a "moral right". I see none and his surviving nephews see none. The matter is supposed to go to "mediation" and then back to the Supreme Court (which deals with matters of probate). I can't be involved because I am not a party to the action. I wish I could be.
I want the charities to have that money - and so does his family.

Thursday 20 June 2019

"Your prescription still isn't available",

I was told yesterday.
This is now not merely disturbing but alarming.
I try to be sensible about these things. I do not wait until the last possible moment to renew a prescription. I go into the pharmacy several days in advance.
It is just as well I did. I went in on Monday. I was told there is a shortage - again.  This has happened before. The supplies simply aren't coming in. 
The medication is made in America. The company in question appears to have the monopoly. They don't like supplying it to Downunder because they can make more money supplying it elsewhere - or so I am told.  
I am inclined to believe this because I distrust drug companies. They are, first and foremost, about making money. The health of the humans and other animals they are supposed to care for definitely comes second. 
    "We are trying to get some in. Try again tomorrow," I was told. 
    "It will have to be Wednesday," I said.
    "We will have some by then."
And they didn't in the morning but I was told, "It might be in this afternoon."
I couldn't find out then. We had a visitor and then some news that meant I had to write urgent emails of a legal nature.
I'll find out this morning. I have one little white tablet left -for tomorrow. If they cannot fill the prescription then they say they will call the surgery and ask them to supply a prescription for something else as a matter of urgency.
I don't like this. I know I have the capacity to go and ask - but I should not need to do it. I know too that a lot of people don't have that same capacity. They leave it until they have actually run out before they rush into the pharmacy expecting something to be available. What are the chances they will then get priority over someone like me? 
    "You are very wise not to leave it until the last minute," I was told. 
But it still has to be available.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Two trains there and

two trains back.
There were more than 600 people present - standing room only at the back of the auditorium/church. 
I wondered if they manage to fill it on a Sunday. There is a car park adjacent that would easily hold enough cars.
It is not just a Sunday place though. There are all sorts of weekday activities. It is more like a community centre. Perhaps that is a good thing. 
Yes, I was at the funeral for the forty-seven year old mother who died last week. It might have been held earlier but one of the mourners flew from Norway - "just a mate who wanted to be there". That's friendship.
And it was family too. 
It is the Senior Cat's second cousin who is officially head of the clan here. M... is the eldest, of the eldest.... He is the one who initiated the two clan reunions we have had. Yes, the rest of his-my generation helped but he initiated them. The huge family history was largely researched and written by him with much checking and proof reading by yours truly. 
It needs to be updated again. My brother will update the website. It's useful. The Senior Cat has trouble keeping track of just who is who now. It's the youngest generation that he loses track of completely. I lose track. M.... loses track too - and he has it all far more under control than the rest of us.
But yesterday it didn't really matter. I parked the trike and made my way through the gathering crowd. I looked for familiar faces and then M... , taller than most, swooped and hugged me.
    "So glad you got here," he said. His voice had that rough edge of emotion. No, he did not expect the Senior Cat to be there. I was there for both of us.
And then, quite suddenly, I was surrounded by my family, my clan - the cousins of varying degrees. They were asking after the Senior Cat, genuinely wanting to know. I was catching up on their news. I was looking up and up at B.... and W.... remembering when they were  barely old enough to  go to school 
We weren't there for a good reason but I looked across at M... holding T...'s father. T....'s father would shortly have to do the hardest thing of all for a parent - farewell his daughter. I looked at J..., M...'s son-in-law, who was standing quietly by waiting to lead them in and conduct the service. J...had given me another bear hug moments before.
     "This is so hard. Thanks so much being here."
Two trains there and two trains back and trike rides at each end. It was worth every turn of the pedals for my family, my clan.


Tuesday 18 June 2019

It's my fault

- or is it?
I had an email from someone yesterday - nothing unusual in that. I get a lot of email. (The postman recently remarked that I don't get as many letters as I once, I get them as emails instead.)
But this particular email had me puzzled - and a little worried.
I offered to do something. I offered because the person who was organising the roster had done things for me and I thought it only fair that I offered to help in return.
It's a three day event. They need multiple people for a day each. I offered to do two of the three days but said I thought I should be at a meeting on the other day.
Yes thank you I'd like you to help - on the day of the meeting. I thought about this and reorganised myself and asked other people to do things for me. (Now I owe them some help too.)
Then there was the usual "we haven't got enough people yet" announcement. I left another email. Do you need more help?
And the anxious answer came back wondering if I could do the day I was rostered on for and person organising thought I meant I could only do that day. I sent another message saying I could do the day I was now down for and sorry for any confusion.
Later I took a moment and reread the emails I had sent. Were they quite clear? Yes, very clear and not my fault at all.
     "You should have been more assertive Cat - said you couldn't do it."
No. I was tempted but that would simply have made life more difficult for the person organising the roster - and that person does too much now.
Sometimes it is better to take the blame for something even when you are in the right. 
It would be even better if people admitted when they were wrong - but that's not going to happen. I don't think any of us like doing that.

Monday 17 June 2019

I am grateful for friends

because yesterday was a mixed up sort of day. No, the Senior Cat is fine. I have heard him get  up just a short while ago. I saw his bedroom light go on earlier. Good.
It was the same yesterday - and then the email came. M... sent an email. It was short. It said "thank you" and then it said "a very, very difficult time". 
Yes. We are worried for A... and the three girls too. How are they going to cope without T..., without their wife and mother? I don't know. 
I know they will get through it - somehow. But C.... must be in the last year of school. There are big exams coming up...will they give that consideration? Will she have to repeat the year because she can't quite cope with taking on so much else? T.... was immensely supportive of her family. And other family will be there too - or will they? M... is not well either. Silly man is still smoking. Oh he has cut back but he is still addicted to that vicious weed.
But then there are friends. It was quite by chance that two people had arranged to call in yesterday morning. We are thinking about a Christmas tree. We are thinking about a Christmas tree because there is a Christmas tree festival again this year -  a short way up  in the hills behind us. The library knitting and crochet group is making a tree with knitted and crocheted squares. We will turn it into a blanket for someone in need after the festival is over.
And one of those friends knows M...  She called M...'s parents "aunt" and "uncle" although they were not related.  J.... had not caught up with the news. She doesn't really know M...'s children but she was immediately concerned for them. 
    "And I would not have known but we were coming here this morning."
It's odd-funny how things work out. I am glad she was here and that I could let her know. A message from her is going to mean a lot to M... 
It's those little things that mean the most.

Sunday 16 June 2019

"What are you making?"

I was asked more than once yesterday. 
I had made the effort to go to a "knit and natter". It is the alternate gathering to a meeting I attend once a month.
The reason for going was simple. I will not be at the next meeting and there might have been questions about another event I am involved in.There were questions. I duly answered several. 
And there was the "what are you making" question as well. It is a common question.
And it is one I am going to try not to ask in future. No, it isn't because I am not interested. It is because I hope I am more interested than an answer like "socks" or "a  hat" or "another scarf". 
I think I would like to show people I am a little more observant than that. It might be more interesting if I can ask them about the actual pattern they are using or ask them about the yarn. Unless it isn't pretty obvious then asking what someone is making seems to me to be the equivalent of the polite "how are you?"  
I was reminded of the Senior Cat's brother. He could, towards the end of his life, get thoroughly tetchy. He was in the supermarket one day with the man who did so much to help him. The assistant at the checkout asked him, "How are you?"
His response was "Bloody awful."
And the response was an automatic, "That's nice."
The story was repeated later - to much amusement.
But I wonder if it really was that funny. The assistant would not have had the time or desire to engage in conversation but what about the rest of us? How  often do we say, "How are you?" and not really care or want to know? How often do we give the inquirer a polite rather than an honest answer?
Yesterday I stopped and explained what I was doing to someone. I am not sure it was what she expected but, suddenly, she seemed much more interested.
     "Come and have a look at  this," she said to someone else. I was able to show them both how something is done.
Later I prowled around for a little while and took in what other people were doing. I could have asked what people were making more than once but it was obvious. Instead I asked two elderly people how they were feeling now - because I really did want to know.  One of them thanked me for some biscuits and the other showed me one of six scarves she is knitting for those who care for her on a daily basis. We talked properly to one another. 
I really do need to stop asking meaningless questions. I need to ask questions to which I want to know the answers. It might take a bit more thought but I will be better informed.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Falls in the elderly

can be serious, very I am duly grateful that it wasn't.
The Senior Cat "just sort of slid over" in his bedroom at about 5:15 yesterday afternoon. He couldn't get up again.
No, he didn't call out to me immediately. He had not hurt himself. He could do this by himself - except that he couldn't. He was there for a good fifteen minutes before he called me.
I cannot lift him by myself. He is not a heavy person but he has reached that "awkward elderly" stage. He can't kneel any more - two artificial knees have done that.
So, I went for help. M... across the road was home. He's strong enough to help. 
I couldn't make them hear at the front of the house so I went down the side and knocked on the back window. S... his wife is a paediatrician and well used to handling such things. Of course M... would go and help. He was in the bathroom with the two small boys while S... finished getting their evening meal.
M... was on his way before I had properly seen to it that the two boys were safe. S... said she was fine with them because H... was sitting in the shower cubicle where there was no water. 
I came home and M... and I had to lift the Senior Cat between us.  
It is one of those things that Middle Cat knows about and she should have shown us how to do it. I know how we helped the children when I was working with severely disabled children but the Senior Cat is taller and heavier - even though he is not a big or heavy adult.  
S... had said she would come and check later if I was worried but I had asked the Senior Cat to do the "finger tip to nose test" and he did it easily. He didn't think he had hurt himself either so I sent a quick email saying I thought things were okay. Middle Cat will call in today.
But there are two things that need to said here. The first is that everyone should know the "finger tip to nose test". Ask the person to close their eyes and stretch their arms out as far as they can. Then ask them, still with their eyes closed, to put their forefinger on their nose (and repeat for the other side). If they can't do it then get them some medical assistance asap. Other things like slurred speech or confusion are obvious signs but I was taught test too.
The other is equally important. Know your neighbours. Know them at least well enough that they will know who you are if you knock on the door. It doesn't mean living in one another's pockets. 
We are incredibly fortunate in our neighbours. I went to M... and S.... as the people I felt the most comfortable about asking. M... is physically able to help. Our neighbours on one side are away at the moment but there were two more able bodied men across the road I could have asked. If they had all been out I could even have gone around the corner and got help from two more able bodied men. But I was fortunate, the first people I went to were home and could help.
I know it could happen again. I hope it doesn't and it may not but the Senior Cat has always been clumsy-pawed. He is just fortunate he didn't break something.

Friday 14 June 2019

"She was only 47"

I was told.
    "And leaves behind three young girls," I said.
There has been a death in the slightly more distant family - the Senior Cat's cousin has lost his daughter-in-law.
And yes, she was only forty-seven. We haven't heard the details yet although we know we will soon enough. The Senior Cat and his cousin, a first cousin-once-removed, are quite close. There are phone calls to him, emails to me. the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son - the "chief" of our branch of the clan.
Clan matters to us. I think I have said elsewhere in this blog that we are close-knit on that side.

So, although we didn't know T.... well, the news matters to us. It would matter anyway because the eldest girl doesn't turn  seventeen until next month. It is going to be very, very hard on all of them.
I know the clan will rally around. They will get help but that won't mean "Mum" will be there. For their father it won't mean that the love of his life will be there. There will be the empty chair at the table...and the silence. There won't be the checking of the sports kit for baseball or the shaking out of the pleats for their highland dancing costumes. There won't be checks on hair cuts and homework.
I thought of all this yesterday as I went about things. I went to the library to pick up some books. On the way there I was stopped by a man of African appearance. He was clearly lost. His first language was clearly not English. I explained how to get where he needed to go and he said "Asante".  It's Swahili for "thank you". I said "Asante" in return - because I was thankful, thankful he had asked me. (He looked startled and then, realising what he had done, asked if I speak Swahili. I had to say no - I only know a few useful words.) He's a long way from what was obviously once home and I wondered about his mother.
On the way home from the library someone else asked if the train station was the right one to get him somewhere. I told him what to do too. He looked alarming. He was big and covered in tattoos -but he was incredibly polite. I wondered about his mother too.
Someone called in. Her mother was waiting in the car. Her mother is almost as old as the Senior Cat and came to live with her five years ago - from the other side of the world, a faraway place.
And I thought of the three girls.

Thursday 13 June 2019

The gutters need cleaning

and it is not one of those things I can do myself. I am not a climbing sort of cat at all. I much prefer ground level. (I don't like planes either.)
Middle Cat apparently has something organised. The Senior Cat left a message on the table. It's a bit confused - but that is not necessarily his fault. Middle Cat can be less than clear about these things.
Someone may - or may not - turn up this morning. The weather forecast says "showers". I will just try to be patient.
Someone else is coming to drop something off to me. I have marmalade to give to her.
Yesterday was no better in terms of interruptions. I did manage to do some banking for the Senior Cat. A friend came to pick up the two part finished quilt tops. We looked at them together and decided there was not a lot to do to either of them. That is a good thing. C.... will be genuinely delighted that they are going to be given to the hospice.  
There were more interruptions as I was trying to get lunch for the Senior Cat. Middle Cat took him off to see the cardiac specialist just after lunch so I had to be on time. And then, as I was coming in the back door, I heard a quiet knock on the front door. By the time I got there the person had gone again. I looked out the window to see our former neighbour driving off. I knew she had been in to see our neighbour-across-the-road because her car was there. 
I let out a guilty sigh of relief and did things that needed to be done while the Senior Cat was out. I fielded phone calls. I answered emails. I did paperwork. I dealt with washing and ironing and more.
And last night I curled up on my sleeping mat and put my paws firmly around a book and finished reading it. As I put it in my bag ready to return to the library I thought of how good it was to be able to do just that. 
Yes, I could sit there and watch television but reading a book is so much better....just purrrrrrrfect. 

Wednesday 12 June 2019

I am not much of a gardener

but I do plant things sometimes.
The problem for me is that I really feel the garden belongs to the Senior Cat. He loves gardening. His gardening may now be limited to pots at waist height but the garden itself is still his.
We have S....who turns up once a fortnight and spends two hours doing as the Senior Cat asks. S....calls himself a "rough gardener" but he can dig and cut and mulch and more. He will also, like the cleaning lady, do anything else he is asked to do outside.
But yesterday I could cheerfully have throttled him and the Senior Cat.
I rushed off to do some urgent things while P... was here - things I would normally do before she arrived. I came home and she said quietly, 
      "I think you had better check."
I checked. S... was, as he was asked, digging over a patch of ground and removing some "weeds". Well  yes, some of them I would classify as weeds. The problem was that they were also the sweet pea seedlings I had planted and had, because the Senior Cat loves to see them climb and grow, been nurturing carefully.
I wailed. S.... looked alarmed - and more than a little embarrassed. The Senior Cat was devastated. 
      "I didn't know they were there," he told me.
      "I told you! You saw me planting them!" 
I prowled back inside and shut the door rather firmly. P.... looked at me and opened the door again. She went out and rescued the two plants she could find.
The Senior Cat came in looking upset. I can't be cross with him for long. I  kissed the top of his head and told him.
      "Don't worry. We'll get some more. It is still supposed to  be fine this afternoon. I'll go to the garden place and get some more seedlings."
     "If they have any," the Senior Cat said gloomily. He was still feeling bad about it.
Middle Cat phoned at lunch time. P... had gone to her after sorting us out and told her about it.
      "I am just checking on his appointment tomorrow," she said, "And I'll pick up some more seedlings when I get some washers at the hardware store this afternoon. Oh and don't worry. I know someone who once ran the mower over my African violets because he thought they were weeds." 
She was referring to her DH of course - a man who knows nothing about gardening.
In the growing darkness last night I planted new seedlings. I was accompanied by a small peewit. It followed me as I went along the row. It came close enough for me to touch. I talked to it. It looked at me side on - in the way birds do - as if to say, "Don't worry. This lot won't get pulled up."
They better not. 

Tuesday 11 June 2019

The cleaning lady

is coming early today.
Now I need to explain about the cleaning lady. I would not have employed her myself. It would never have occurred to me. This was Middle Cat's doing. 
Middle Cat caught me at the point where I had the 'flu - Influenza A to be precise. The Senior Cat had it too. He was in hospital. It was all I could do to get out of bed - but things had to be done and I had to get out of bed...because Middle Cat was ill too.
Middle Cat has a cleaning lady. She inherited said cleaning lady from her DH's side of the family.
Said cleaning lady is an absolute gem. She is wonderful. She is a keeper. I like her. She does the things I find washing the kitchen the floor without slipping over on it and reaching high places. (She is taller than I am. I am a very short cat.)
I still do lots of cleaning but she comes for two hours once a fortnight and, while I still run the mop over the kitchen floor in between, she does the floors thoroughly, she scrubs the bathroom and vacuums the Senior Cat's bedroom. (I love that. I hate the vacuum cleaner.  There is almost no carpet in the house.) She dusts the high places. She has helped me clean out cupboards and more... all in the space of two hours. I don't know how she does it...especially as she is thorough with it.
And she charges very little. I don't think she charges nearly enough but she insists she is happy with that.
So when she phoned yesterday and asked if she could come early so that she could go to do something else important I said, "Of course."
It won't make any difference to us. We get out of her way. This time the Senior Cat will still be having his breakfast but she will start at the other end of the house anyway. Even if it had not been very convenient I would have said nothing.  
I know people who would not have wanted to be flexible about such things. They would have thought, "I am employing...."  I cannot think that way about this particular person. She  has been much too good to us. I have several times had to leave lunch for the Senior Cat to go and do something else on a day when she will be here at her usual time. That extends over lunch time.
    "Off you go. I'll look after him," she tells me. She is the one who sees to it that his lunch is properly heated in the microwave. She washed his plate. He had to go out too one day and she told me,
    "Don't worry. I'll see he's dressed properly." (Later I discovered that not only had she seen to it she had helped him do up his shirt buttons and tuck his shirt in.)
None of those things are what we pay her to do. I feel guilty but relieved when she arrives. It helps. It helps a lot to have her there.
So if she wants to change her time I am more than willing to accommodate her.  
We are so lucky to have her helping us.

Monday 10 June 2019

Natonal Ballpoint Pen Day?

Apparently it is National Ballpoint Pen Day...10 June that is. I didn't even know such a day existed. It is, so I am told, the day the patent was filed in 1943.  They are also called a "biro" of course - named after someone called Laszlo Biro - the man who invented them.
I have Ms W to thank for this. Her father was talking to someone who has written it into the state's newspaper.  C.... came home and told his daughter who then informed me.
    "And my dad still uses a fountain pen," she said.
At least she knows what a fountain pen is. 
The Senior Cat told her about learning to write with a dip pen and ink made from powder. She was appalled.
    "No wonder your writing is so bad," she told him with mock severity.
The Senior Cat's writing is appalling. He grips the pen as if it is going to run away from him. I remember watching him use chalk on the blackboard at school. His knuckles would be white. 
He rarely writes anything now. If he needs to send a letter anywhere I type it up and he simply signs it. He might dictate it to me but it is much more likely that he will say, "I need to send so and so a letter about such and such." That will result in me sending an email or writing the letter. He's 96. He can get away with it.
But I remember dip pens and ink too. They were still around when I was at school. I was supposed to learn to write with one too of course. We won't go into that.
I remember the smell of the ink. I remember the "ink monitors" filling those tiny china inkwells. I remember the mess that dip pens and ink made in the classroom. 
How many of us girls had our plait ends dipped in ink by the boys? They kept doing it even when they were kept in and made to write lines.
And then ball point pens came along. For a long time the only sort you could get here were blue...and they often leaked. For a long time it wasn't legal to sign documents with a ballpoint pen. Banks would not accept cheques written in ballpoint pen. The last time I went into the bank the manager witnessed my signature using a cheap ball point pen. 
I was supposed to teach "writing" when I had a class of ten and eleven year old students. I arranged to swap lessons with another teacher who could do it. She taught my class while I went and taught her class other things. I can remember her saying that she thought ball point pens did nothing to help people write legibly.
But, they are still around. They are likely to stay around. They went from being available in blue to being available in blue, black and red. Then there was the fat one which had four different colours because they had added green. Now you can get them in even more colours - although I wonder how practical they are.
     "But people don't really write any more," Ms W said
This is true. Even in school the children use screens. They are no longer taught to write the way we were. Ms W has been taught something but I wonder what the most junior of the juniors are being taught now. 
There used to be a section for "calligraphy" in the state's annual show. We ceased having it several years ago. There simply weren't enough entries to make it worthwhile. Perhaps we should have had a section for calligraphy with a ball point pen?
I doubt that would have worked. It isn't the same. I look at the penmanship of the past. There was something to be said for pen and ink.


Sunday 9 June 2019

Let me explain about cats

and  yes I do know that there are people who do not like them. I happen to like them. I also happen to be getting rather fed  up  with them getting a bad press.
I know most of the local cats. (I know most of the local dogs too.) We get on quite well with one another. I respect their independence. The Senior Cat and I are very tolerant of cats visiting us. Some of them, one in particular, will sit and watch the Senior Cat while he potters around  in the garden. Another will often sit on the garden table and watch me put clothes on the line - or sit on the fence and tease the chihuahua from next door into a frenzy of yapping. (It never lasts long but that particular cat knows exactly what it is doing.)
I talk to the cats and they, in their own way, talk back to me. We just happen to get along well together.
But other people tell me they are dreadful creatures. They don't want them in their yards. They make a mess. They catch birds. They dig the garden and much more.
This is odd. No cat has ever made a mess in our garden. They may dig discreetly - but they cover over what they deposit there.  It's not a problem.
Do they catch birds? They might. Yes they are hunters but I have yet to see them catch a healthy and active bird - and I have been observing them for years. The only occasion on which one of our last two cats "caught" a bird was when he, very gently, brought in an injured bird and put it at my mother's feet. Then he looked up at her and made a small, distressed sound - as if to say, "Can you fix it?"  The bird was clearly elderly. It  had been easy to pick up.
We played with our cats. They chased table tennis balls and caught at ropes, pounced on mice I knitted them and fought inside large brown paper bags that the groceries were once packed in. When they were outside birds could walk within a metre or so of them and they would just sit and look. They are the cats who spent hours in the bedroom watching the Senior Cat when he was recovering from major surgery.  When he was well again they went back to their normal routine. 
Yes, they know the sound of a tin opener. They are, in whatever way cats are, disappointed if it isn't tuna. They can show displeasure. And they don't always want company. I respect that. They are independent. They don't need training like dogs. They bathe themselves.
Perhaps it is that very independence that makes some people dislike them. I don't know.
What I do know is that legislation to "stop them wandering" won't work. Cats simply won't obey that.

Saturday 8 June 2019

The media is still screaming

about the raids conducted by the AFP.  Someone else had a shot at me yesterday for not being sympathetic. 
No, I am not sympathetic. If you use illegally obtained information then you can expect to be prosecuted for it. 
I know there are all sorts of arguments about "freedom of the press" and "in the public interest" but I would be a good deal more willing to listen to those if the media was actually consistent in the way they handled these things.
Let me give you some examples. They are well documented but have not been well handled.
One of  our former Prime Ministers, Julia Gillard, trained as lawyer. Before she entered politics she was employed in one of the largest law firms in the country. She left there under rather curious circumstances and never renewed her registration as a lawyer. That is a very strange thing indeed. Someone else, one Ralph Blewitt, was charged for the serious criminal offences she was involved in but the matter was never taken any further. Why? Put simply she interfered when she was Prime Minister and nobody in the media was prepared to take the matter any further - for fear of what the government might do in retaliation.
Then there is the case of the man everyone thought would be the next Prime Minister. The media made very little of rape allegations against Bill Shorten. His party had also demanded the resignation of a member of the Coalition from his position as Deputy Leader when it was found that, while still married, he'd had an affair resulting in a child. Bill Shorten did that too - if anything even worse because the affair was with a married woman and he broke up not one but two marriages. The media barely mentioned those things while making headlines of the other incident.
There is another former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, about whom the press had almost nothing good to say even though his moral code with respect to marriage has no questions hanging over it. He volunteers - and did so long before he became a politician. They are still making fun of him. Apparently that's fine even though it destabilised the country at one point - and a lot of what has been said about him is simply untrue.
And then there is the case of Cardinal Pell, found guilty of sexual abuse. The judges are yet to consider their verdict with respect to the appeal in that matter but it would be fair to say that the media gave him a negative press for years. I don't think I'd like him but there are aspects of the case and the way it was reported that I find deeply disturbing. Anyone suggesting he might not be guilty has also been castigated.  His chief sins, apart from the very serious charges of sexual abuse, seem to be allegations that he was a conservative and didn't act when he should have done so. The problem with those is that he apparently believed in what his church had taught him and that he did ask for action to be taken on a number of occasions but the police simply didn't take the matters up. Those things don't get mentioned.
I think we have double standards here, serious double standards. It seems it is fine for the media to break the law and protect their sources in order to tell a story - however inaccurately - but when they are asked to meet the same standards of accountability they cry press freedom is being threatened.
The raids were conducted with a search warrant issued by a judge - and they are not given lightly. One of the stories being investigated was being reported in a way that was deliberately designed to cause alarm. There was nothing balanced about it. The media simply didn't like the proposal because it could have impacted on them.
I find it difficult to sympathise with that.

Friday 7 June 2019

Alzheimer's is a strange

I had the opportunity to observe the Senior Cat's best friend close at hand yesterday - without any sort of noisy gathering around him. He and his wife had come for lunch.
Just getting K.... somewhere these days is an effort for B.... -  his wife.  He can still dress himself but he needs to be supervised. He had no idea where he was going until he got here. Then he recognised the house - but couldn't remember who lived here. I could hear  all this as they came up to our front door (which is, confusingly, at the side of the house). Then he saw the Senior Cat and recognised him and immediately started sparring with him - something they have done for all their long friendship. His words were not as fluent as they might once have been but you could see that, somewhere in the fog of his current existence, he was still the same man with that same wacky sense of humour.
But conversation didn't flow as freely as it once did. The easy ebb and flow of their old conversation has gone. We are losing K.... He told B... he didn't want any bread when he did. He got confused trying to use the butter. She tries to be patient but told me that she is not as patient as I am. (I told her I am much younger and should be more patient.)
K...has been in  this house more times than I can remember but he could not remember where the bathroom is. I had to show him and then B...had to go and supervise him again. It distresses her.
K... and B.... had been brought here by a driver from the package of assistance they now get.  We had to arrange it so that the driver  brought them at a time when that person had other errands to do in the city. Their daughter M....called in to take them home as she lives about 100m down the road. Without her they could no longer stay in their own home.
M... still works but was finishing early in order to pick them up. "I can log on at home and do some more tonight", she told me. 
But around 3pm K.... was getting agitated. He told B.... "I don't want to drive home in the dark."
She explained that he wasn't driving. (He hasn't driven for some years.) "M...,your daughter, is coming to get us."
Oh, that was all right then.
And then, ten minutes or so later, he said this again. "I told you, M... is coming to get us."
   "No you didn't dear,"  he told her.
And so it went on until M... did arrive to get them. Each time it was clear he had completely forgotten that he had been told anything. He could remember some things from the past. He could recognise other things but he could not remember things that had happened.
He won't remember today that he was here yesterday.
It wasn't  until that happened that the Senior Cat really began to  understand a little of how difficult it is for B....  He said to me this morning, "Do I ever do that?"
No, he doesn't. He knows if he has forgotten something. He will tell me, "I'm sorry. I've forgotten what you said...."
I know the Senior Cat hates being old. He's frustrated with himself. He wants to do things and cannot do them. But... he still remembers most things. He can still read a book and enjoy an intellectual conversation. 
He knows it too. When they had gone he sat there for a bit and then said, "I'm very lucky really. Would you mind shutting the shed?"
I'll happily open the big door while he can do something inside - however little. 

Thursday 6 June 2019

There was a police raid on the ABC

yesterday and the media is upset about it. (By ABC I mean the Australian not the American Broadcasting Company).
I am not upset. I am not upset for a very good reason. The Australian Federal Police who conducted the raid had every right to conduct it.
It would have been done under the provisions in the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) - section 70 and section 79.  Section 79 makes it a criminal offence to disclose official secrets. It is punishable by seven years in prison. (That's a pretty light sentence if you put national security at risk.)
Section 70 is much wider.  It makes it a criminal offence to disclose any fact a Commonwealth officer has learned or any document they have obtained by virtue of their position that they are under a duty not to disclose. Breach of this provision can result in up to two years imprisonment. (Again it is a pretty light sentence if you put national security at risk.)
Given the nature of my job I often learn things I don't want to know. I learn things I don't like. There are things I would like to shout from the rooftops. I can't. I won't. I have signed more non-disclosure documents than I care to think about. That's it. 
Journalists don't sign those sort of documents but it still doesn't mean they can use information they receive without facing the consequences. If the information is given to them by someone who has breached the law and they use that information then they are also guilty of a breach of the law. It doesn't matter how good the story is or how much it needs to be told it is still a breach of the law.
Journalists naturally want the right to report things. Freedom of the press is important and it can do much to keep governments honest and people informed. But - a big but - it also carries with it to be not just fair and accurate but responsible and within the law. 
There is a very casual attitude towards national security here. There should not be but there is because most people, and this would seem to include journalists, are unaware of the risks. They believe it is a simple matter of checking passports on arrival and simply taking asylum seekers at their word.  It is of course much more complex than that. It requires constant vigilance.
Journalism is of course not merely about reporting the news but about trying to influence public opinion. The advent of digital technology and the lava flows of "news" make this easier - and much more dangerous.
Many people will want to believe there is some sort of collusion between the government of the day and the AFP over the raids on the home of the journalist and the ABC. The chances of that are infinitely small - but it won't stop people believing it. 
If journalists are not responsible then the freedoms of the press will be curtailed and we will all be the losers.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Growing old

is not fun. I have known that for a very long time now. I am not legally "old" yet - although I sometimes wonder if I really am an ancient cat.
I have observed a great many people around me growing older. When my parents moved into this house they were younger than I am now. They had both retired.
The Senior Cat was only 61 when they moved here. He was exhausted from sorting out difficult schools and getting them back on track. He didn't want to go into the central office to be an inspector of schools or move up the ladder to further administration but he didn't want another very difficult school either. He wanted a life outside school even though he had found it stimulating as well as challenging. The Education Department had hoped he might stay long enough to sort out one more school but he wasn't well. He could get his superannuation and said, "No, enough. I don't think I can do the job as well as you would expect." 
It was probably the right decision. He started making conjuring apparatus for his fellow magicians. He started making late Victorian and early Edwardian wooden toys and talking about them to service groups all over the city - and beyond.  For some years he had a stall at the local "Earth Fair" - an annual Christmas craft fair. That was partly designed to keep the Black Cat out of mischief but he did enjoy doing it too. He went into his beloved garden and we had carrots growing under the hedge and strawberries down the driveway...every available space was used.
He didn't give up teaching. He taught woodwork, conjuring, study skills, English and more - but he taught it to individuals or small groups. He didn't have to worry about staff and grounds and unruly children and obnoxious parents.
But he stopped doing that a couple of years ago. He is still doing a little pottering in the shed and he gardens after a fashion  - in pots.
Now he sometimes sleeps for two hours in the afternoon. 
Yesterday he had a routine medical appointment in the morning. He went to a concert for "Seniors" in the afternoon. He said he enjoyed the latter.
But, he's been quiet. I know he's frustrated, very frustrated. He gets angry with himself  and upset because I need to do things for him that he could once do for himself. 
And tomorrow his best and closest friend for more than sixty years is coming for lunch. His  wife is bringing him but we aren't sure if K... will even really know he is here or who is with. They haven't seen one another for months because of transport issues and phone conversations are impossible. 
I know that is really worrying the Senior Cat. He knows he is going to have to face the reality of the situation then.
And I can't do a damn thing about it.  Growing old is not fun.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Clearing out

is taking place right around me. It's disturbing.
Our friend P.... phoned yesterday. Did I know anyone who might be interested in some quilting materials? C...., who lives in the same convent, thought it might be time to give some things away.  Naturally I know a number of quilters, rather a lot actually. It isn't that I quilt myself, just that we have the same passion for colour and shape and more. (I have never seen the sense of cutting up pieces of fabric just to sew them back together again...but then I am allergic to sewing needles.)
She is bringing C.... over tomorrow with the materials. I'll put the kettle on.
The Senior Cat muttered he would go out to the shed. He loves P... but "sewing" of any description is not his idea of fun. His father may have been a tailor but the Senior Cat does not sew. Instead he is clearing out some things in his beloved shed. My  BIL turned up the other day and moved some things. That made clearing out a few things essential. It still won't be nearly enough. 
But it has made me think that I may need to begin thinking about this clearing out business more seriously. Over the past few  years I have quietly removed some things belonging to my mother. Middle Cat and I have no use for them. Our brother threw up his hands and said, "I don't want any of that stuff."  Middle Cat's youngest took a lot of things around to the local charity shop. They were very pleased to get them. 
The problem is that there are other things there. Things we don't use but that I have been reluctant to give away. The sort of thing you think "might be useful one day" and, unlike other people, I won't have the funds to buy again.
Yarn is not a problem. There are young people I know who will happily use it. (They get through an incredible amount and it almost always goes to charity.)
Books are a problem. I don't want them to be simply dumped at the charity shop.  Some are simply too valuable in one way or another for that to happen.
And still there is all the clothing and other detritus of life. I need to work on this. I don't want to "de-clutter" or go "minimalist" or do something zen like. I just think might be necessary to leave less of a mess for other people to deal with.
So P...'s friend C.... may be doing all of us a favour by saying she needs to give some of her materials away. They can go and make what I call "useful clutter" somewhere else.

Monday 3 June 2019

An "Advanced Care Directive"

is something every adult should have. It allows other people, whom you trust, to make medical and other care decisions on your behalf if you can no longer make them yourself. Other places have similar directives  under different names.
I have an ACD and have nominated two  of my nephews - a lawyer and a doctor -  to do the job if it ever becomes necessary. I hope it won't be but you never know and I don't want some anonymous state official making decisions about me.
My doctor nephew called in yesterday and the topic was raised. No, nothing has changed...but it is wise to check once in a while.
It reminded me that last week I had to help someone sort out her will. She is in her 80's. Her husband always told her it wasn't necessary for her to have a will. He died some months ago - without a will. It has left an horrendous mess for her - including the loss of her home. The family situation is very complex. Children she did not know existed (from a previous marriage she knew nothing about) have appeared out of the woodwork and more. 
When she told me her husband had died without a will and she did not have one alarm bells rang. Her husband had said more than once that she "would get everything". Fortunately he said this more than once in front of other people. It isn't going to solve the problems which have arisen but it might help. She wanted me to help.
I can't do the job for her. It is much too complex for that but, at her request, I have been helping her understand what the solicitor is asking her to do. He is someone I know and trust to do the best he can for her. 
There was a long list of questions in the mail last Monday. We have been through them. I have written a list of things she must find or get or do. We are trying to keep the costs down. 
And yes, money is a problem. She had no bank account of her own. There is a small joint account - which she had actually never used because "he always handled the money side of things". There is a much larger account she can't use because it is in his name. 
This elderly woman was sitting in a cold house, frightened to turn on the heating, eating frugally to try and make the little money she has last all because her husband of more than fifty years didn't make a will. Her daughter is sending me frantic messages from the other side of the world and adding to each one "...and please make sure Mum makes a will." She was here for the funeral and will be here again in July. If she has found a two bedroom flat she can afford in a northern English city she will take her mother "home" then. It's the only thing they can do.
I wasn't going to say anything here but my elderly friend said to me,
    "Dear put all about it and what happened to me on that diary thing you write and tell everyone  they need to make a will."
Yes, I have one. It's the sort of thing we try not to think about - but it needs to be done.

Sunday 2 June 2019

Knitting classes

are a regular feature of a group to which I belong.
I have never been a student in one but only because they have yet to offer something I need to learn - and that I cannot teach myself.
I didn't go to the crochet classes. I have much to learn about crochet but I am a left pawed cat and I wasn't willing to risk the potential wrath of the teacher. It is easier to read a book or two or three and investigate Ms Crochet Google.
But I taught another class yesterday. It was loosely based on what I taught to another group in the summer. The summer group could work at a more leisurely pace. This group had around an hour and a bit to do something so I changed things around. I didn't teach some things that really needed to be taught. I made explanations where I would have preferred the students come to the ideas gradually. I knitted samples that the other class didn't need. 
I also made more notes - and put them in folders. And, because of the nature of the class, I supplied the yarn. The group doesn't charge for workshops so I did that free of charge.
The students who came were great. They wanted to try - even when they said things like, "I'm not very good at choosing colours". 
I should have enjoyed the experience but I didn't. There were several things that bothered me. 
Students have to sign up for classes beforehand. Several people who signed up didn't bother to come even though they were present at the meeting. Another person who had not signed up did come. Fortunately there were enough materials to go around because of those who did not turn up.
I had just started teaching when another member of the group came in and started to talk to a member of the group. She was trying to organise something else. It was an interruption that none of us wanted. There wasn't enough time as it was and her interruption just made it worse.
I am wondering if students had to pay for classes whether people who signed up would come as they said they would. I think they would. 
I also wonder if people would simply wander in to a classroom in a school and start talking to someone. I don't think they would. At very least they would say, "Excuse me" to the teacher. 
These may seem like little things but they matter. 
At least the students who did come thanked me.

Saturday 1 June 2019

The road toll

in this state has risen dramatically again.
It was going down for a while but the last eight days have been horrendous. No, that is not an exaggeration. The road safety people and the police are worried...and so they should be.
I am worried. I am starting to feel more nervous than usual about being out on the roads. 
I try to stay on the footpaths but that isn't always possible. It isn't necessarily safer either. People come out of driveways without looking. I also need to be very cautious when passing pedestrians.
Yesterday someone gave me a long horn beep and then a mouthful of choice Anglo-Saxon as he turned the corner. The fact that he had no business to be turning the corner  (the green pedestrian sign was showing ) was of no importance at all. According to him I was a "f....stupid c.... (with) no  business to be out on the roads". He was holding a mobile phone. I wonder, if he was using it, what the person at the other end thought.
It's a pity the cops were not around. 
And I wonder what good that would do any way. Apparently far too many people continue to drive when they have lost their licences and when their cars are unregistered and uninsured - and even  not roadworthy. An older friend, who was still a good driver with no accidents or violations, was hit the other day by someone whose car brakes "failed". Injury wise it wasn't serious but it could have been very serious. He told me, "The chap who hit me actually said he'd had a bit of a problem with the brakes - just hadn't got around to fixing it." His own car isn't worth repairing. He is now without transport...because someone else didn't do the right thing.
If I am on the road then I'll pull over. I always give way. Cars can travel faster than I can pedal. It still worries me. 
I have to pedal some distance to a meeting today. I will be teaching the class after the meeting. I would like to be able to arrive feeling, if not relaxed, ready to do a good job. Instead I am leaving at least fifteen minutes earlier than I should need to leave.I leaving early so I can take my time and be responsible - but I would rather know that I could arrive safely because everyone was doing the right thing.
Is it just me? Am I doing something wrong?