silvercloudlinings

Looking for the things in life that make us happy

BIRTHDAYS!!!

Today another year bites the dust! Amid many good wishes from my family and friends, I decided that rather than going backwards with my age, I will embrace my advancing years with gratitude and grace. Grace, after all, is my second name! Many years ago I remember being 39 for a number of years until one of our children cottoned on – don’t think I could get away with it again.

Doug always buys me a card on special days (we don’t exchange gifts). He came home the other day bemoaning the fact that he had lost my birthday card. I said, don’t worry about it, the thought was there, but he went back to Woolies the next day and asked if anyone had handed it in. (Such optimism I thought). However, the lady at the desk said she remembered a card being handed in but because there was no docket with it, it went back on the shelf. She told him to go and get another one as he had the docket with him.

When I opened the card this morning, inside there is a cupcake with a candle with a light – when you blow on it, more lights flash and it plays Happy Birthday!!  I’ve never been given a card like this one before.  I looked at the price, $13.95!! “Wow, said I, that’s a bit extravagant, no wonder you went back to try and find it.  When he picked up the replacement card he didn’t look at the price, even though it wasn’t the same card as he originally bought.  I guess Woolies can absorb the difference between what he originally paid and what he ended up with.

Mischa (lap dog) is very unsure about the flashing lights but stayed on my knee, just looked the other way; usually she runs away and hides when I get the camera out – frightened of the flash.  I found the whole thing quite funny, not sure if you agree. A long story about very little!?.”

However, we went to lunch at our local Tapas and Wine bar overlooking the beautiful waterfront. Yummy food, delicious wine and  together with the fantastic view, certainly was a highlight in my day.

 

 

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FRIENDS, PELICANS AND FAMILY

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Pelicans below us at the Fish Cafe

Last Friday, once again a beautiful day, our very good friends Jean and Graham travelled by train and bus from Brisbane to Bribie Island. Doug met them at the bus stop, just a short walk to our place and we sat and chatted for a while. We then went to our favourite Fish and Chip Café which is literally situated right at the water’s edge. We sat looking at the wonderful view that I never tire of looking at. As we sat at our table and looked down at the rocks below, there were 3 of my favourite birds – pelicans – 2 together and 1 a little apart from them. They were preening their feathers and waiting hopefully for food to be thrown to them. Seagulls were sitting on the rocks and the jetty close by and many more were wheeling and squawking in the sky. Boats bobbed around at anchor and others passed by each way, obviously making the most of the perfect weather.

We ordered our meals, opened a bottle of wine and sat chatting, eating and sipping our deliciously chilled wine, all the time watching the tide slowly come closer until the water was lapping at the pylons directly below us. The beauty before us always makes me so grateful to be living in such a gorgeous place but that was not all: suddenly a pod of 3 or 4 dolphins emerged not too far away frolicking about for quite a while – how lucky we were to see that.

We said farewell our friends and shortly thereafter our daughter Catherine and her three children arrived for a sleepover. What a day we had. Next morning Catherine, Kara and I took Cooper to play his Rugby League game a short distance away from Bribie. He played very well, made a try and a conversion as well taking part in many tackles. We all piled into the car and headed back to Bribie where Doug had taken Harrison for his game. We were in time to see the last half of his game. Just as he does in cricket he “directs the traffic” as I jokingly say, indicating to his team mates where they should be on the field.

They departed in the afternoon, leaving the usual mess in our small unit but 15 minutes later all was back to normal and we were able to sit down and reminisce about the lovely weekend we had had.

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THE PHILLIP ISLAND FAIRY PENGUIN PARADE (Victoria, Australia) (Now known as Little Penguins)

 

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Little (Fairy) Penguins coming ashore at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

When our family first began camping at Phillip Island, as you may imagine, things were quite pristine and not commercialised in the 1950’s. I’ve outlined in another story about our many holidays and the fun we had playing on the beach and visiting other parts of the island. During the summer holidays we would always make a trip to the beach where the penguins would come ashore at night.

Mum would pack sandwiches and drinks, thermoses with tea for the adults along with rugs to sit on and we would all don our warmest clothes as even in mid-summer it could be extremely cold sitting on the beach in the evening. My memories remind me that just on dusk the first penguins would begin to emerge from the sea. Once the penguins arrival had begun, if there was a tour bus there for the ‘show’, the bus or if we were lucky enough, there might be more than one bus, would shine their headlights onto the waves and we were able to see these valiant little birds being washed onto the shore. Sometimes they would have to have several attempts to land on the sand as the waves would drag them back into the water. Poor little mites must have been exhausted by the time they were able to put their feet on dry sand but his was a daily event for adult penguins so they were used to it.

We would watch these cute little creatures waddle up the beach to their burrows where their chicks would be waiting for the food their parents had caught for them. Now and then we would see one who had lost a leg and sadly, some would never return because they had been taken by sharks or other predators and their poor little chicks would be waiting for food that would never come.

People in those days, as far as I’m aware, were very respectful of these little penguins and didn’t interfere with them. As we walked back to our car in the darkness with only a torch to light our way, we could sometimes see the chicks just inside the entrance to their burrow waiting for their parent/s and calling for them not knowing if they would return. Mutton birds were also their enemies and would take chicks if they left their burrows. As time went on and more and more people came to see the penguin’s nightly parade, permanent barriers were erected along pathways and people didn’t have the freedom to walk amongst their burrows as we were able to which was a good thing. Given that the penguin’s pathways were fenced and the many visitors were kept at a distance, the overhead lights that were installed in later years, must be very invasive to these little penguins compared to the torches that we used.

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UNEXPECTED PLEASURES

I think we all take pleasure in many things: some small, some big but for me, my greatest pleasures usually come from family.

Yesterday a surprise visit from our granddaughter, if measured on a sliding scale would without doubt be at the highest level.

I have frequently lamented that we haven’t seen much of Jamie since she finished High School at the end of 2013. Of course she is almost 18 and her life has changed dramatically. She has worked at a local supermarket since turning 14 and continues to do that. She has also begun a Nursing Degree and has a social life. She now lives mostly with her mother and nanna whereas while at school she spent a week with her mum and a week with her dad and stepmum. That arrangement is more difficult now and being able to drive would be such a bonus for her.  She has completed the necessary hours (100) but has yet to gain her Driver’s Licence. She is saving to buy a car and her dad is matching dollar for dollar, so that may take a while.

Yesterday afternoon the doorbell rang and I asked my husband to see who it was and to our surprise it was Jamie and her girlfriend who had driven them to Bribie Island for a swim. They had lunch and then called in to our place. We all had a lovely visit together – there’s nothing like a one on one conversation instead of sms or news through her dad.

Jamie is our eldest grandchild and we have had a lot to do with her as she grew up, especially as her parents separated when she was a baby and her father lived with us until he married. Her father fought for his parental rights and he and Jamie have developed a very strong bond despite strong opposition from her mother, proving that quiet determination and strength of character negates the need for aggressive behaviour.

We look forward to the day when Jamie has gained her Driver’s Licence and has her own car in the hope she will visit us from time to time. In the meantime hopefully her friend will bring her for a visit now and again.

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Easter and ANZAC Day

Easter has passed and it’s ANZAC Day tomorrow. A short week for workers and school children with holidays on Easter Monday and tomorrow. Nothing much changes for those of us who are Retirees and one day is much the same as the next.
However, the Easter break was really nice beginning with a morning tea on Good Friday for the residents in our complex. A really beautiful day; the sun was shining and not a cloud in sight and although quite hot a lovely breeze rustled through the shrubs and trees, keeping us cool. Portable gazebos had also been erected for the occasion which kept the hot sun off us.

We had no plans for the rest of Easter but we were very happy when our youngest son Scott and his wife Rhonda arrived on Saturday afternoon. We went to our favourite seafood café which is situated right on the water and when the tide is in the water laps at the pylons supporting the building. The view is wonderful as we can see the Pumistone Passage between our island and the mainland as it stretches to the north where it flows on to the tip of our island and then out to the bay. Looking to our left we can see the bridge a distance away that connects us to the mainland and also the water that flows in and out at and into the bay. In the distance we can see the Glasshouse Mountains, rising into the sky and although not high mountains, they are distinctive and add to the beauty of the vista.

Many craft travel pass by travelling either south to the Moreton Bay or north to the other end of the Passage which also flows into Moreton Bay; a trip we made on many occasions when we had a boat. The water sparkled brilliantly and an abundance of birds swooped and soared as they searched for fish and then dove into the water usually claiming their catch. Several Pelicans swam indolently below us no doubt in the hope that one of the diners would throw a morsel of food to them. I love pelicans and am fascinated by their size and their habits. Whenever we drive across the bridge that spans the Passage we count how many pelicans are sitting on the lights. Sometimes there may be none but this week there were 13; three lights had two pelicans on each, all no doubt watching the water below in order to see fish on the ingoing or outgoing tide.
As we sat eating our fish meal we took in all the beauty before us and marvelled once again how fortunate we are to be living in such a place. The sun slowly sank behind the mountains and we were then treated to the spectacular sunset that was unfolding before us. We watched in awe as the sky changed in hue from blue to yellow then pink and finally a fiery red, a sight that never fails to make us gasp at the magnificence of nature.

The next day – Easter Sunday – our other son Marc and his wife Jacinta and their 3 children Jamieson, Joshua and Annie came to visit for lunch. “Don’t worry about food”, Marc said “We’ll buy the food and have a BBQ at the waterfront”. Well, sometimes plans don’t always happen the way you would like. They arrived on the Island only to find the 3 supermarkets closed but were lucky to find a fruit and veg shop and a butcher shop open.

The waterfront was packed with people with no BBQs, parking or picnic tables available. Quite understandable when one considers the beautiful weather, holidays and only an hour’s drive from Brisbane. So, we had our BBQ at our place – Marc had bought marinated Chicken Maryland which he cooked beautifully on the BBQ and his wife made a salad. A most enjoyable afternoon, all unplanned and unexpected – lovely surprise to. see them all.

Tomorrow, ANZAC Day, we will travel to visit our daughter Catherine, her husband Brett and their 3 children, Harrison, Cooper and Kara about whom I have written many little stories about the boys’ sporting achievements. We will stay with them for a couple of days.

ANZAC Day commemorates all the soldiers who fought in all conflicts and also honours those who lost their lives. ANZAC means Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and began in the First World War when Australian and New Zealand troops fought side by side at Gallipoli.

It is a day that has grown in meaning in this country and it is heartening to see our younger generations joining in the Dawn Services all around Australia and marching alongside our Diggers proudly wearing the medals of lost family members.

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POLTICIANS, EASTER AND ROYALTY

This week has been a fairly quiet week for me with mainly medical concerns but in the background many things have been happening around the country. This included a cyclone that hit North Queensland but then travelled south to central Queensland wreaking havoc to crops, homes and businesses; cutting the Highway in several places and generally making life unpleasant for people in its path.

We had the Premier of New South Wales resign over a $3,000.00 bottle of wine which he was given as a gift and failed to declare. How Pollies allow these things to happen is beyond me – not that I care one way or another. Would one ever drink a bottle of wine costing $3,000.00 or would it be show-off value – obviously not the case as he supposedly “forgot” about it and so it could not have been on display. No wonder voters have become cynical. However, I’m not going to worry about New South Wales politics.

No: I’m more interested in Queensland politics and the decisions they are making. I’ve mentioned previously the struggle my Advanced Breast Cancer Support Group is having with the government regarding their decision to cut funding to our group. A measly $150,000.00 per year to fund this service which reaches out to women all over Queensland who are dying from this disease. There are many areas in the media which are being covered and more being planned in the hope that we can make an impact on the government and cause them to change their decision.

A bright spot of the week was the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George. They are a great advertisement for the Royal Family and love or hate the Monarchy, they are like a breath of fresh air.

Good Friday tomorrow; the weather is superb and holidaymakers have already filled the caravan parks and holiday units and our little Island will be buzzing for a couple of weeks. When school holidays are over the Grey Nomads will begin to make their annual pilgrimage to Queensland for the winter months where the air is warm and balmy compared to the southern states where they come from.

HAPPY EASTER

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Fighting for Right

What a week it’s been – my support group is involved in trying to get our State Government’s Health Minister to change his decision to de-fund this unique and important service group. This service began in 1999 and over the years has evolved into what it is today, namely a weekly phone-in via teleconferencing which reaches women throughout Queensland and two workshops each year whereby we meet face to face with the voices on the other end of the telephone. The phone-in and the workshops are facilitated by two female Psychotherapists. The women in our group are all suffering from advanced breast cancer for which there is no cure and which will sooner or later take our lives.

Our number is not large for a few reasons ie, some women don’t know of our existence or they might feel that group support is not for them but the other reason is that many women don’t stay in our group for long because they die.

Many women feel isolated and abandoned when diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and to be able to talk to other women who are living with the knowledge that this disease will take their lives gives us comfort to know we are not alone. We protect our families from much of what we go through psychologically and try not to burden them with our darkest thoughts as they are also coping with the knowledge that their loved one will die from this disease.

Living every day with the effects of treatment often is difficult and without the support we get from the other women in our group, it would be easy to become depressed and feel like giving up. There are people who do not understand our situation and what it means to live with this disease but I guess they have their own agendas.

Being part of the media campaign and the online petition has been stimulating but tiring. We hope the Health Minister will be persuaded to change his heartless decision as this group is for all women. Hopefully with enough support People Power will win and if not I hope our campaign makes the government squirm. 

If you agree that this Advanced Breast Cancer Support Group should continue to be funded by government, please put your name to our petition by clicking on the address below.

www.change.org/enAU/petitions/lawrence-springborg-continue-funding-the-advanced-breast-cancer-group

 

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AMBUSHED!!

Have you ever felt as though you have been ambushed – in a medical sense? It’s easy enough to be talked into doing or buying something you really didn’t want by some smooth talking salesperson but let me tell you about my sense of being ambushed by a doctor.

I have been seeing an Ophthalmologist for many years – had the cataracts removed (another story in itself as is usual with me) and 3 monthly checkups now that I have developed Macular Degeneration. My specialist sent me to another specialist in the same practice because of a concern with my retina. The new doctor scanned my eye then did a angiogram (injected dye) and took more scans. He thought at the time all was ok but wanted me to return 2 weeks later. This I did last Friday – more scans, whoops something not quite right, so another angiogram which showed that a blood vessel had pushed through the retina and had leaked.

Doc said “The good news is that we can treat it now by injecting a drug into the eye” – “Say what!!??” said I. I’m thinking to myself – right I’ll agree, go home then ring and say I’ve changed my mind, thinking to myself, no way am I having an injection in my eye. How naive can one be? I asked “Where will you do this?” I’m hoping he’ll say “In the Eye Hospital” which would allow me to escape. To my dismay he said “No, right here, right now – come with me and I’ll do it straightaway!!”

I followed him like a lamb to the slaughter, climbed up on the couch and put myself in his hands. Not the most pleasant procedure I’ve ever had and it seems that these injections are a monthly event. Joy, oh, joy, I thought to myself, what more can doctors do to me? Best not to think to deeply on that.

I understand it won’t repair the damage already done but will hopefully stop further deterioration.

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MEMORIES OF DAYS GONE BY

I often look around at the people who live in “our” complex.  We moved here 10 years ago and so of course, those who were living here when we moved in are all 10 years older which of course puts us all in an older age category. Ten years ago It was known as an Over 55’s complex but now I’d say we could rename it Old and Wrinklies only allowed.  Who cares anyway?  As long as you don’t look in the mirror, your mind will keep you as young as you want to be.

When we moved to our new home we brought our small dog with us having been assured by the Real Estate Agent that she had found out that our dog was allowed.  This turned out to be untrue and so began some rather tense times.  We were determined to fight to have our little dog with us but shortly after moving in to our new home I became quite ill and a vote was taken with a result of 7 – 5 which allowed us to keep our dog with us.  For many years we were not made welcome by those who opposed the vote but for the last couple of years we have blended in with all the residents as they came to realise that we hadn’t grown horns and Mischa (dog) wasn’t the devil incarnate.

The days of the ‘power hungry’ Chairperson have settled down to the extent that she often has her son’s dog stay with her for a week or two and most of us get on well with each other.  Every now and again we have a function such as a Cancer morning tea to raise funds or to celebrate Australia Day or other such notable events.

It was decided some time ago to have a “Happy Hour” once a month on the Common area which is a nicely grassed area close to us and surrounded by rather nice gardens and has a Gazebo in the middle.  Monthly “Happy Hours” were not successful as people would forget and either not turn up or would come on the wrong week!  (Remember that many of the residents are now over 80 and for some, memory is not a strong suit).  It was then changed to fortnightly but again this was unsuccessful because people would get the weeks mixed up – so it was decided to hold it weekly.  That was the answer and each week mostly the same people turn up for an hour or so (if they remember to come at all).  I think some of the older residents really look forward to this weekly outing and it has certainly contributed to a happier and friendlier place in which to live.

When I attend these gatherings, I look at these people – some of whom I have known for 10 years now and I can see how they have aged and realise that I too show telltale signs of aging; the inevitable sagging of the body, wrinkly face and chook’s neck, greying hair and unattractive wrinkly arms. I envy those whose hair has turned pure white – not like mine that is an unattractive salt and pepper grey.

One particular gentleman whose body has been compromised by a severe stroke but who fights to overcome his physical difficulties shows through his sparking eyes an intelligence which aging and stroke has not destroyed.  He and his wife, both in their 80’s, do not let their health problems stop them from travelling the world – a Safari in Africa last year and shortly a trip to Canada.  How can you not admire their tenacity and determination not to let their physical problems keep them at home in their armchairs?

There are many amusing stories I could relate about the residents who live in our complex but to name a few – there is the mysterious single man who lives alone and every 3 months flies to Thailand for 3 months.  I suspect he has a family there but he never mentions them which of course leads to speculation.  A German lady who is in very poor health and really should be in a Nursing Home but who managed to spend an hour or two at our Australia Day BBQ and showed her usually well hidden humorous side by having her Naturalisation Certificate pinned to her ample chest and stating that she wanted everyone to know that she was an Aussie and not a Krrraut!!  Funny lady.

The man who lives with wife two doors down from us nearly lost his leg when he was a child and walks with a stiff knee.  He wrote his autobiography which I have been privileged to read and what a story that is.  He and a mate (as teenagers in the early 1950’s) bought a one-way ticket each which only allowed them to sail from Melbourne to southern Italy. They eventually reached their intended destination – England – after some hair-raising adventures.  Their intention was to work until they had enough money for a passage back to Australia.  They weren’t successful in raising enough money and were homesick so they found it necessary to stowaway.  They also found it necessary to leave the ship in Western Australia and find their way home across Australia to Melbourne.

There is another couple who had lived in a large complex further down our street and their story goes something like this: they sold their unit intending to travel to Victoria but health problems intervened and those plans were put on hold.  They needed somewhere to live and so bought a unit in our complex – not sure what happened but they sold it after about a year and bought back into their original complex.  They were unhappy there and about 6 months ago they bought back into our complex – different unit this time.  It takes all sorts of course but perhaps they like packing and unpacking!!  Is there such a thing as a Boomerang Syndrome?  That is a bit flippant and no doubt they have good reasons for their unsettled living arrangements.

I’m sure each and every one of the residents has a story to tell; of times gone buy when life was so different to how it is today.  The older 70 year olds and of course the 80 year olds and our one 90 year old would no doubt have lived through the Great Depression and could well remember the hardships that were forced on them and later living through the Second World War.  As for me, I can remember the horse drawn cart delivering ice to houses and how the delivery man would carry a big block of ice around the back of the house and place it in our ice chest.  Fresh bread was also delivered daily by horse and cart. I witnessed the advent of telephones in homes, refrigerators, televisions: the list goes on and on.

How the world has changed since then and I think of the wealth of knowledge these Septuagenarians and Octogenarians have; possibly untapped and unrecorded memories in many cases.  Generation Y really only live in the moment and possibly are not interested in knowing what their grandparents and great grandparents lived through in an era where consumer technology was just emerging and consumerism was an unknown word but hopefully these important early memories will be recorded by their families before they are lost forever.

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Warbling Magpies and laughing Kookaburras

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Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
merry, merry king of the bush is he………

This is not a piece about self-pity although some may think it is.  I will admit it has been a hard week and it’s an effort to be able to put my thoughts into print. It’s been a week where I haven’t had the energy to venture too far from home but our house backs onto a main road where every day ambulances speed backwards and forwards with lights flashing and sirens blaring; issuing their warning that they are on an urgent mission.  While I’m grateful not to be a patient in that ambulance – I always spare a thought for the person who is and hope that they will be transported to hospital in time to get the treatment they need.  When I’m not feeling my best it’s always good to remind myself that there are many people who also have challenging events in their lives.

Being housebound is not all bad – not only can I begin to catch up on all the TV programs I’ve recorded but even better than that are the birds that fly into our yard or sit on our back fence.  I love to listen to the warbling of Magpies and also Butcher birds who sound similar.  Occasionally Kookaburras also “laugh” early in the morning and sometimes in the evening.  Now and then a bird will splash around in the bird bath but of course this depends on whether our little dog Mischa is inside or outside.  I think Mischa sees it as her ‘job’ to make sure nothing enters our yard.  If she is on my knee and sees a bird in our yard she will launch herself into the air, land on four feet, tail curled up on full alert and giving a loud warning to any intruder to “get out of my yard”.  Usually they do even though some of them are nearly as big as she is.

So it’s been a bit of a nothing week but that’s ok once in a while.  Who knows what next week will bring?

 

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