Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

Christmas Day 2011

The good:

We got to see family - alway a bonus. There were a few missing - one of my brothers is overseas as is one of my nieces - but we got to welcome some others into the family with another niece's boyfriend - now fiance since he proposed yesterday - and his daughters.

We had a huge family lunch. Thanks to the brilliant cooks in my family there was something delicious for everyone - and in a family where several of us suffer from severe food allergies that's quite a challenge.

My artist niece gave me a portrait she had painted of me and my son and daughter-in-law gave us some framed photos of their wedding. Lovely. So were the other gifts. All thoughtfully chosen and to be enjoyed.

The not-so-good:

It was the first Christmas that we have had without my mother. Although for the last few years she has been too frail to join us for lunch - her increasing dementia meant the noise was too stressful and confusing - part of the ritual of Christmas Day was going to visit her. She is greatly missed.

So that was our Christmas. I hope you and your families all had as great a day as we did.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's Been Happening?

Around here - not so much. I've managed to be sick for most of December and that has put a crimp in things. December is not the best month to be unwell for many reasons. Christmas is looming and I only managed to put up the most minimal of decorations three days ago and have done none of the other preparations that make Christmas my favourite time of the year. Gifts are organised and that's pretty much it. My family is big on Christmas and we love getting together so it makes for a great day. The thing is the last two years I've been ill at Christmas and it takes off some of the shine. Coming down with yet another bug last Saturday does not bode well. I will not be a happy little camper if I can't throw it off in time for Christmas Day. With that in mind I'm heading back to bed.

Doves - Again

The prime dove nesting real estate on the clothesline ledge on the back veranda has been occupied several times recently. I'm not sure why it's popular actually. Because it's immediately overhead outside the back door - the most used door in the house - you'd think it would be somewhat unnerving to have people and dogs passing almost within reaching distance a dozen or more times a day. There's the cat and doors banging too but the hens just hunker down and pretty much ignore us.

The latest baby fledged about a week ago. Still slightly scruffy, one morning it was fidgetting around on the ledge beside the nest one minute and in the next took off. All very normal. Less ordinary was when next morning it was sitting shivering on the ledge again. There it stayed obviously having decided it had made a serious mistake in leaving in the first place. Every time a dove flew past it optimistically tried to attract its attention, always unsuccessfully. It was quite sad. We went to bed with it still waiting. Next morning it had gone, we hope to a successful life.

I got sick at about that point so I hadn't removed the nest yet - doves are not the most hygienic of nesters so the nests really do need to be removed - when yesterday I noticed a pair - I don't think it's the same ones because the hen is larger - doing some renovations. So now we will wait and see.

Yes, I know they're feral and probably shouldn't be encouraged but they don't take nesting places from the native birds and there is something innately appealing about them.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

And Life Goes On

which is as it should be. Yesterday was Sagittarius's birthday. It's hard to believe that just over thirty six years ago I was rushed to hospital as he decided to make an early and very risky entrance to the world. Now he's about to become a father himself. Next Christmas there'll be a new little person with us. It seems fitting somehow that we will soon be welcoming a new family member in the form of the next generation because this will be the first Christmas without my mother, who passed away in June. It's going to be a different kind of Christmas as a result.

When I think about it, it's as if life has been slowly preparing us for these changes because she wasn't able to join us for the last two Christmases. This was not what we wanted but the noise and crowd were too confusing for someone with severe dementia. It didn't stop us seeing her on Christmas Day though and trying to think of gifts that might give her some pleasure. She had developed a very sweet tooth in later life so every year I made her chocolate truffles and the shortbread biscuits she loved. That's a tradition that is not happening this year although I've always enjoyed giving them to others too. I wouldn't say it was gone, just that it is on hold given the ritual of preparing sweets and shortbread is deeply connected to her in my mind.

Slowly, in gentle steps, things have changed almost without us noticing. There's still a hollow place in our hearts and we miss her terribly. Often a thought comes and I think that I'd like to share it with her and I suspect that will be the case for the rest of my life. I'm saddened too by the fact that she won't have the joy of meeting my grandchild but, at the same time, her legacy continues. This child bears her genes and so the essence of my mother will continue on in this new generation. As her grandchildren grow we'll see an expression or mannerism that will remind us of their heritage and we will remember her with the joy of this new life tempering the sadness of the loss of the other.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


For many years the house behind us was left empty with a jungle of a 'garden' consisting of several tall trees all linked by a dense cover of star jasmine. It wasn't neat but it pretty much blocked our view of the house (highly desirable as it sank into decay) and provided breeding places for a multitude of small birds. Apart from the rats which also infested the area and the potential fire hazard from the over grown yard (which the owner would deal with when someone complained to the Council usually by burning it - not the safest option but there you go) we didn't mind. It made our yard very private and we enjoyed the birds.

Then, three years ago, the property changed hands and the new owners ripped out all the vegetation in the backyard except for one tree, which promptly died. It made life a little difficult for us because now every time we went out our back door we could see straight into their kitchen and, we assumed, they could see into ours but, because they are lower on the hill, maybe not. Their roof was about level with the fence and blocked our view to the street so we still had some sense of enclosure. Anyway we got used to drawing the curtains early but we felt we were always on view.

Little did we know. Last week the house was demolished. It's extraordinary just how this has opened up our yard to public view. Where before we thought we were exposed now we really are. I went out to water my potted plants and found myself in full view of someone looking up from the street below. There'll be no dashing out in pyjamas to grab something off the clothesline now and chasing a small and sometimes recalcitrant dog at night is going to provide entertainment for half the neighbourhood.

It's not all bad. The view, which has always been obscured, turns out to be spectacular and when I go out to watch the eclipse of the moon tonight I'll be able to see it clearly. I'd better not get used to it though. Apparently, although the owners haven't bothered to tell us what their plans are, they intend to rebuild and there will be more changes to get used to. But that's life, isn't it. Everything changes. Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes not. Whichever it is we have to change with it. At least it's never dull.