Wednesday, April 5, 2017

it turns out I needed some time to just enjoy this....


Well, I did it, at last, I started my bedroom makeover. No photos yet as the other half of the makeover will be after I get back from Etsy Captain's Summit in Noosa. But so far, it has been the first real action since culling belongings on and off for a year, measuring, making furniture arranging possibility sketches, making little pencil marks on walls and sticking pins in my curtains to show where certain pieces would be positioned. Saving money, ordering flat packs, assembling, freaking out that the bed head I bought to go in front of my window was too high and having to make a whole new furniture arrangement, packing all my belongings, moving everything, and putting everything that made the cut back in the room. To be honest I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I also had sinusitis and for a few days I didn't even make it to lunch time without needing a lie down. It turned out I needed to spend some time just looking at the water and doing basically, jack. Look who also enjoyed the down time...

But I'm back up and energized again, and since it has just been my parent's wedding anniversary, and we actually did nothing (I remembered a day late, and they didn't remember until I mentioned it) I thought I'd tell the story of how we celebrated my parent's 40th Wedding anniversary in a Coffee Club.

First of all, my parents eat at the senior citizen mandated dinner time of 4.30 pm, a time that fancy restaurants are not ready to take you, and if they did, my parents would still rather be at home squabbling about who is talking during the tv (Mum won't let Dad talk during The Bold and the Beautiful, Dad won't let mum talk during the news) and getting into their pjs and locking all the doors and windows by 5.30pm and thinking how contented they are to have their work done for the day.

So to celebrate a special occasion, we eat out, at lunch time. In a place that Mum chooses, because she is wildly difficult to please, and there are maybe two Mum approved restaurants in all of Mandurah. It has to be a place that you can walk in without a reservation somewhere between 11.30 and 12.00 and lately, for the past few years that place has been Happy BBQ Chinese Restaurant. Of course Mum does absolutely no pre-special occasion research, so once we turned up on a day that they were closed.

The year of the infamous 40th Wedding Anniversary, I recommended to Mum that she check that Happy's would be open, and she swore black and blue and two ways to Sunday that there is absolutely no way that they would not be open. However, when we arrived, they were, indeed, not open for business. So we were standing in the carpark at the mall, and I'm thinking, thank God we can go down to the foreshore and eat at one of the many wonderful restaurants in the area that I love. But NO, Mum thought that driving somewhere else when she was HANGRY and having to REPARK the car was too much effort so she suggested we go into the mall and eat at The Coffee Club.

We found a table for 4 (though really it seemed like it was only comfortable for 2 people) in a room packed with at least 50 people all talking at once so loud that no one at our table could hear each other and we sat more or less in silence for an hour, celebrating a Ruby Wedding Anniversary with grilled fish and chips.

Oh and when the waitress brought my meal, somehow, the fish came off the plate, flew through the air and landed in the palm of her hand. I know, what the? And she put the fish on my plate and then asked me "Oh, would you like a new piece of fish?" By the way, if you happen to be in food service, this is a terrible position to put your customer in - by making me the hard arse if I would prefer a clean piece of fish for my lunch. The correct thing to say is "let me get you a new piece of fish". I did very awkwardly and with much embarrassment request a new piece of fish, and I tell you that fish came back pretty freaking quick. I hope she just grabbed a piece of fish (not with her hands) that was about to be put on someone else's plate and make that someone else wait a little longer for their fish, but I admit there is a 50-50 chance that I got my original fish after a 10 second trip to the kitchen.

And so its probably just as well we did not attempt to celebrate, in any way, the passing of my parent's 42nd wedding anniversary. Its also lucky that I accidentally observed aloud the other day, that Happy's is open in a new location, after the anniversary had passed, though I guess we'll go there for Mum's birthday, in July, if they are open.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

stuck in the middle with clowns

"Clowns to the left of me, actually they're to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with clowns"
Its not just that I share my office with clowns that disturbs me, its that the clowns are smothered in plastic sheeting and they are really angry about it. I don't like clowns, that doesn't help either, I think they know it. THEY KNOW EVERYTHING.

The clowns aren't mine, they were handmade by my mother about 25 years ago as a series of baby mobiles that she never sold, and stopped making, and here they are, haunting my office, hanging around in the corner with dust sheets over them and their big eyes staring at me all the damn time.

There are 6 clowns right now, in my office and there's nothing I can really do about it. I had a photographer from a newspaper come to take photos of me in my office, and I had to say, hey, let's shoot this way so you don't get the creepy ass clowns in the background, and he looked in the corner and shuddered. He took a couple of photos in my office and then said "let's go outside to shoot" voluntarily making his job of photographing me and my jewellery designs almost 100% more difficult just to get away from the clowns.

We recently had a technician sent to our house by our internet provider and I left him sitting in my office chair facing my computer, when I came back he had turned the chair. Now, turning the towards the hallway would have allowed him to stretch his legs out and easily see me if I returned, but he turned the other direction, a rather unnatural and unusual choice but it meant he was facing the clowns, no way were these sick bastards going to sneak up on him!


They won't sneak up on me either - my dog sleeps in my office overnight, and he has my permission to tear them to shreds if they give him any provocation.

So how do you feel about clowns? Just in case you're not too fond, I have a bonus story to end with, about how my mum nearly flashed the Telstra tech when he was here.....

I was sitting at the dining table with my Mum, in the afternoon and she was complaining about it felt like she had an ant in her bra, after she'd been in the garden. I was doing some work and then the next thing I know, I look up and my nearly 80 year old mother had her shirt pulled up at the table, to her credit she did find an ant in there, however I was completely shocked, I said "don't forget there's someone here" and I swear, 2 seconds after she put her shirt down the guy walked in. I was nearly dying from not screaming with laughter.



Friday, February 17, 2017

the positive side of living with elderly family members


I've written a lot about the challenges of living with my elderly parents, and I will continue to do so - because it's honest, and it's important - no one should go into this blindly, and because I need to communicate and to laugh in order to cope. Its also really important I take some time to say that living with elderly family members can be really wonderful and beneficial to both old and young.

Of course I need a break from the bickering, of course I'd like the house to myself more often, of course the needs of my parents override my own, and life is very much focused on their medical needs and issues as a priority while scheduling for myself takes a back seat - but I can work on that.

In spite of needing to fight stress with laughter and go running to someone to say "guess what just happened?" a good 10-20 times a day, I also get quite a lot of peace of mind having my parents with me.

If my parents were living alone I'd be worried about them a lot more than I do now, even if we had a daily check in call, or they had a duress alarm with them at all times, things can go wrong. Someone can fall after their check in call and lie in pain for nearly 24 hours, and its hard to press that duress button when you're not conscious. With my parents here I know their baseline - I can easily see change and decline. I know they are eating, sleeping, going to the doctor when warranted, not climbing up ladders to change light bulbs, and they aren't shy about asking for what they need done for them - whereas if I lived out of home they might not want to bother me with requests, or they might not want to wait to get that light bulb changed - its all fairly immediate and the temptation to take risks is extinguished.

My parents are also far less vulnerable living with me, my presence helps deter scammers and intruders. I was shocked by the amount of scam callers my parents were receiving at home, but with me here to answer the phone that quickly stopped. Having someone young seen coming and going from the house all the time - and my trusty dog - helps people think twice about targeting our house for a break in or vandalism. My poor grandmother and aunt were constantly experiencing home break-ins in their final years, both were elderly and my aunt was vision and hearing impaired. It was very stressful and my grandmother was very lucky not to be beaten (it kills me that we have come to saying its lucky an old woman wasn't beaten in her own home) because she caught a guy in her room at night and started hitting him with her hot water bottle.

I watched my mother stress for many years because she lived interstate from her family at the time they needed her the most. Its very hard to be apart, not that being together is all roses either but it does allow a family to be able to personally care for and protect each other. My grandmother made it to 97 still living in her own home to her last day, and I'd like to think my parents won't need to leave their home either.

Living together with family of different generations is one of the most amazing experiences - it gives an incredible perspective of life, it challenges and engages both old and young alike, and builds connections and empathy that I can personally attest were lacking in our family before this chapter of our lives began.

I carried with me for many years an incredible amount of pain and emotional baggage from the relationship I had with my dad when I was a child. His constant refusal to acknowledge or empathize with me caused more and more damage along the way and we just could not get along. The journey of living with my parents, feeling protective of them, caring for them, and even facing the possibility of losing them at different crisis points, has given me the opportunity to build a relationship in the here and now and let go of the need for a really very specific vision of closure that I had, and get actual closure.

As difficult as this journey can be, it has been the very thing I needed, and I believe has been essential and good for all three of us. My parents are safe with me, and I am here to enjoy them and be part of their lives and to share my life with them.

However, my friends are not facing this journey yet, and caring for seniors and the elderly can be fairly isolating and I am looking to build a like minded community for support, friendship, laughter, and inspiration. I'd love to hear from you if you have older parents, grandparents, or family/friends that you care about. Your comments, experiences, questions, and basically anything you would like to share can be so very helpful and will really be appreciated.

Monday, February 13, 2017

my Valentine has really hairy legs


My Valentine has really hairy legs (and huge ears), now you're probably thinking I'm referring to my dog, but you're wrong. Fate, and a random woman in the mall have decided that my Valentine is my dear old Dad.

This was decided several years ago, in an incident that lead to me creating a rule that I would not go out in public on Valentine's Day (ever) again. I was innocently waiting on a bench in the mall, for my Valentine father and having my ears gnawed off by a strange woman, who when my father arrived, asked me "is that your husband?". Keeping in mind I look like I'm in my twenties, and my Dad looks like the crypt keeper. I said "no that's my Dad". For regular people that would result in an apology, or at the very least allowing the conversation to end, or move on to other topics, any of these was what I was expecting. Stranger Danger lady asked me "are you sure that's not your husband?"

OH MY GOD LADY are you freaking serious? I am not that desperate and I have not lost my god damn marbles, I am quite competent to determine who is and is not my husband and I run pretty hot under the collar so you might want to step off! Can you believe people?

But I will say this, living with your elderly parents is very much like being married to a couple of 80 year olds. We don't sleep together but I'm there for pretty much everything else. All the sights, sounds, and smells, constant loss of keys and other important things, squabbling, senior moments, loss of social and cognitive skills are mine to enjoy. Put it this way, if I get married now or in the future, and I end up staying with the person until we ourselves are elderly, it will be my second long term commitment to geriatric care.

But how about those hairy legs.... because I believe the title promises hairy legs. And my Dad has them galore. Well there's only 2 legs, but the hair, now that is some bad ass, long, curly, thick, incredible hair action that he has going on. What's up with that?


Its no exaggeration to say that my Dad has famously hairy legs. Its hard to say how hairy he would have been naturally (I suspect very hairy) had he not routinely shaved himself as smooth as a baby's bottom as you can see in the photo above (and please don't ask me why he is wearing a mini skirt. I really do not know and its freaking me out). Is that a come hither pose? A hairless man in a mini skirt (with his nephew playing in the foreground) should be my Dad's internet dating photo if, heaven forbid, something happen to my mum. I can answer why he shaved himself though, because my dad was a serious competitive cyclist - this is what they used to do I dunno for aerodynamics, and possibly also because it helps if you crash and get road rash and there are not massive hairy clumps between yourself and medical assistance. Serious enough to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, so I guess it paid off.

Of course the price he paid was being notoriously hairy for the rest of his life. One time on a family vacation we were in a cave, and the tour guide was pointing out different things that we should pay attention to, and he said "next to the man with the hairy, bandy legs" and pointed at my Dad..... and everyone looked at my Dad and probably not at all at the cave.

But I will say Dad is a good sport about the whole hairy thing.You can say anything about those legs and he just accepts it.

He once came into my office and said: your fan doesn't keep this room very cool.
Me: that's because its not a circulating fan, its directed only at me.
Dad: (after standing directly in front of fan, and blocking vital cool air off me) Its still not very cool.
Me: that's because your legs are too hairy, you can't feel it.

I'm sorry I can't stop staring at the photo of my Dad. Its just too hilarious. Considering my Dad came out of his first marriage - divorced and carrying less photographs than the average refugee - its bizarre that he kept this of all photos. Though not bizarre that first wife didn't keep it.

So all joking aside, my Dad and I have walked a hard road, we are completely different people who very often do not get along for both real and imagined reasons, but I am grateful he loves me enough to persevere and keep me around, and we do make each other laugh, and we love each other, and that makes him my Valentine, of sorts. Its not romantic, but its life.





Tuesday, February 7, 2017

how's my love life?

Well you see, its like this. I'm not looking for love as much as I'm just sort of waiting for love to drop a piano on my head. If someone really amazing would come along without me having to make any kind of real effort, I'd be cool with that. That is pretty much the only way that I could be persuaded to change the life flow that I have going on now, that I'm happy with (although more money would also be nice).

However, I did promise my friend, Diane, who has since passed away, that I would make more of an effort, and I did say to her that I had a feeling that I would meet someone really great once I got my dog. You know, the dog that it turns out I've now had for almost 5 years. So maybe its time for a review of my progress (almost none!) and determine whether this is worth changing, or whether I really just want to keep letting the dog drool on my leg while I watch Netflix (every night).

I got myself a really great, Aussie dog, a working dog, nothing too frou-frou or that looks like it should have its diamond encrusted scrawny neck poking out of a designer handbag. A dog that guys respect me for choosing, not saying that is why I chose him, just saying, he is at least not repelling potential dates. I make an effort to never wear leggings as pants, and I'm out there twice a day with fantastic hair, thanks to my hairdresser, Petra (Sapphire Hair Studio, Mandurah) and I'm not shy about talking to men, I can do it. Do I want to?

The first guy in my age bracket (there are a lot of elderly men in my area, and no, I'm not looking to pull an Anna Nicole Smith in spite of suggesting earlier that I'd like more money) literally bumped into me as he walked out of the park..... zipping up his fly. Best case scenario he just peed in the park. Not eligible!

Then I met a great guy with a great dane (my actual favourite breed of dog) and we kept passing each other in the afternoons, until one day he was pushing a pram with twins in it and semi jogging holding hands with (I presume) their mother. Ineligible, move on!

I have to admit I sort of forgot about the whole meeting of a guy thing due to just being busy and happy and not feeling like anything was lacking in my life, you know, I have a life, it has a flow that I enjoy, and I'm not lonely.

Then I met a really kind of cute guy that I started to talk to out in his front yard if he was there when Fizzy and I were walking. We had a good vibe going, relaxed, happy, have a laugh together, no sleazy moments. Then one day I audibly farted. I can't believe I'm telling you this. Anyway I instantly bark out "pretend that was the dog". He sort of paused for a moment and then the conversation resumed until he said "it smells like the dog". And I barked out another instruction "pretend it doesn't smell!" and then mentally heard myself and started laughing (until I cried) saying "Jesus Christ, I'm not high maintenance"

Because I'm really not. Damn flatulence. Ruined my love life. And that's why its just me and the dog, happy together (cue The Turtles) I can assure you, in spite of anything you might assume about my love life, I actually am happy.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

the end of an era: no more chocolate throne

Well, if I had to put my finger on the most distasteful part of my parents' home decorating decisions over the years, it'd be the choice of a brown toilet for the laundry toilet, from here forth known as "my toilet" or "the chocolate throne". The chocolate throne is going however, and I could not be more delighted, and at last, amused (having been most unamused by it for nearly 30 years). This is how I broke the news to my eldest niece (who is close to me in age)




So there you have it, the essence of the whole distasteful thing - why would anyone make a poo coloured toilet, and who on Earth would buy one? When questioned on this, my mother responded that it was a choice between green and brown. OH MY GOD THERE WAS ANOTHER CHOICE?

Well wait actually, it gets stranger, because there was another choice altogether, the colour they put in their bathroom was a lovely light doe skin. Why not order two of these? The mind boggles!

My chocolate throne:
Their doe skin throne:
Why would you think you couldn't have two toilets the same colour in the same house, oh wait, it was the 80's. PS the doe skin is getting replaced too. Currently you can only flush it by reaching in and pulling something up to manually flush.... yeah, not happy about that, so not doing that!

When breaking the news to my like minded niece, she inquired about something else I find distastefully Australian in my throne room (again, not decorated by me)


 The dunny poem, The Australian Dunny by Roy T. H. Manning is printed on a tea towel hanging from dusty rod and twine.
It will frankly be the first thing I take down when given that power.

So tomorrow, while I unwind and enjoy getting my colour and cut done at my hairdresser's the chocolate throne shall be unceremoniously removed and replaced. Long live my new ivory throne, may it serve well for the lifetime of this house.



Friday, January 13, 2017

the state of the union

If you're wondering how we are getting along.... well you see, its like this:

Daily serious ruffling of the feathers, with intermittent outbreaks of fire, some passive aggression, the occasional bonding over dessert or a joke (at someone else's expense) and then we rupture over some other issue and it all starts again the next day.

Sadly it seems like a lot of our suffering has come from Dad not being diagnosed for Parkinson's and therefore having absolutely no assistance for his mental and emotional decline related to that over the past 15 years. Meaning, Mum and I cop the brunt of his depression, anxiety, low self esteem, and the fact that he can't hear us doesn't stop him from screaming "fucking shut up" at us like a total savage when we are not in fact having a go at him and might actually be discussing our shared loathing of Pokemon Go, or our Liberal government (state or federal, you pick).

My parents who probably should have been divorced in the mid 1980's will be married 42 years in March. People always say they stay together for the kids, in our case I think to torture the kid, but what can you do? They think they are a great couple. They say the nastiest and most juvenile things to each other multiple times a day before settling down to hold hands in front of the tv every evening, so go figure.

The house is starting to show its age. The windows sound like car crashes when you close them (its like screeching tyres followed by a loud impact). I did not get the lock fixed on the bathroom for my birthday and am still showering in a state of constant alert. My toilet was starting to have difficulty flushing on half flush, so my Dad, determined to fix it, rendered it more broken than ever before so that we can only use the full flush. He talks about having another go at it, and I'm afraid I'll end up with a totally broken toilet. Won't that be nice!

There aren't enough power outlets in the kitchen. There's not enough bench space in the kitchen. There's a seriously dodgy corner pantry (that is not a walk in, and you literally have to poke your arm in blindly to the far corners and hope you get what you want without smashing anything made of glass) and my excess food is stored in a cupboard in my office but at least with the dog bed being pushed hard up against those doors at night I'm pretty sure mice will never get in to raid.

I constantly find disembodied band aids in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry. Usually soggy, dirty looking things. The floor around the dining table is usually good for a used toothpick or two. The dog licks the carpet hoping for cheese and bread crumbs, but cereal is also a fave.

Anything I cull because I seem to be the only one aware of how limited space is in this house, gets adopted by one of my parents before it hits the bin or the roadside bring out your dead collection. At a time when I've switched to kindle and iBooks because we just can't keep accumulating books, my parents have stopped going to the library and are bringing in hundreds of books they've purchased and are mounting up in the house like I can't describe. They NEVER bought books all my life, only read for free from the library, but now apparently is the time to be fast and loose with the money! As long as its for fun things and not helpful things like I don't know home maintenance and getting a handyman.

Dad, in my opinion, is about ready to lose his key privileges. Its hard to say that to a parent, but honestly the number of alarmed searches for vital keys he has lost is getting to be too much. We have spares, but we don't want his keys falling into the wrong hands.

I'm not sure how long Mum will continue to drive for, though at least our lives improved in one significant way last year, and that was my parents were assessed and approved for subsidised gardening help and driving - since I don't drive at all, they really need that help getting to out of town medical appointments. Dear God, the medical appointments alone are never ending and overwhelming.

And somewhere, amid all this screaming, I manage to run my business, Starzyia, and perhaps haven't completely lost my mind!