Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 25 January 2021

My First Completely Blackwood Christmas

 I moved into my house in Jan 2016. That year Mum and Dad visited and we had Christmas morning here at home but headed out for a big lunch and most of the day with Kindergarten Friend and his family.

In 2017 the whole family arrived from the UK and we decamped to Middleton for an awesome Christmas by the beach.

In 2018 and 2019 I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in the UK with my family, but that wasn't going to happen THIS year was it? (CURSE YOU COVID19)

So in December 2020 I had my first ever, totally Blackwood Christmas.

I went mad with decorations. There was not a spare space on any flat surface.

As Christmas approached and I was assured of the presence of the BA and her new beau, I was also surprised to learn that he was determined to cook! As he was, until recently, a chef, I decided to go with that offer for this year at least!

On the night before Christmas I was frantically sewing him a linen dressing gown as requested by the BA. This endeavour was decidedly slowed by the constant stream of Netflix Christmas movies, supposedly playing in the background, but actually stopping me from doing much of anything. I think I watched 'The Holidate' and 'Tall Girl' but there have been so many junky Christmas movies this Christmas, I may have the wrong two. Anyway, by 3am I gave up and went to bed, deciding that the bottle of champagne I had consumed in the process was probably inhibiting my sewing judgment...and anyway, I needed to try it on him before I hemmed it.

As a result, Christmas morning church did not eventuate and it was about 10:30am before I dragged myself out of bed and got a call from the BA.

"Err Mum, would it be ok if we brought another person to lunch today?"

"Sure. The more the merrier...and anyway, I'm not cooking :-D"

It turned out that one of The Chef's best buddies was on her own for Christmas, so naturally, I was delighted to welcome her to our little group. Four is a better number than three anyway.....

We even managed to rustle up a few presents for her! The BA created a goodie bag of pamper products and I managed a calendar and a succulent from my garden, in a pot I had leftover from presents to my staff. 

The BA and The Chef did very well and he was extremely pleased with his dressing gown!

And the coffee maker from the BA.

So then it was time for lunch. The Chef took over my sad little kitchen, ably supported by his Buddy. 

He completely deboned a chicken and reassembled it with stuffing, then served it up with a delightful array of vegetables and an avocado salad. Well, it is Summer here after all!

This was followed by delicious creme brulees with such a layer of caramelised sugar, you had to crack it twice with a spoon to break it! Sorry, too busy eating it to photograph!

The Christmas crackers were a bit of a hoot. I had forgotten to get any until Christmas eve and of course all the shops were out. All I managed to find was this pack of 6 mini crackers. When I got home, I did discover a set of 'make your own' crackers from 2015 when we'd spent a strange Christmas house sitting, in between houses. I rustled  a few up, putting the mini crackers inside the bigger ones. Of course, because I didn't know the Buddy was coming until Christmas morning, I'd only made three. So I just got a mini one...

The size difference is not because I am further away.......

After lunch was your usual Christmas food coma...

But we revived enough to play games into the evening, after which The Chef took the Buddy off to another gathering whilst the BA and I spent a precious few hours together face timing the UK and watching movies snuggled up together on the sofa. It was really a super Christmas. Of course, we missed the Fam Bam but we were relaxed, it wasn't rushed and we did everything you want to do at Christmas. Oh, the BA also got me a super gift! A painting I'd admired in a local gallery on my birthday in December. Happy Arizaphale!

Even the dog behaved well!

So that's a wrap on Christmas 2020. Here's to 2021 in the UK but many more lovely Blackwood Christmases to come.


Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Taming The Wasteland: Look How Far I've Come

 On the back of viewing an exquisitely styled open house, further up our street, and coming home to feel that my place is a bit dowdy, dark and dumpy, I decided to look back on how far I have come with my garden.

I give you: The Wasteland then:


An in between shot...

And now:

 Although there are less weeds at the moment :-)

My terraces a few years back and then one taken last week....


The bank, down from the patio, just after I'd plugged in a whole lot of little cuttings. 

It took a few years but now........

I planted some Full Moon  convolvulus in the first year...

Here it is now...


And the other side of the staircase then

and now

Still a bit of work to do here :-)

The next step is to plan out the bottom half of the garden which is pretty bare at the moment...

But hey! I think I can pat myself on the back.

I comfort myself that although the house up the road was styled beautifully and had a great view....its back garden was rubbish 😂

Until next time!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The Twin Strands of Grief

It was going to be bad. I knew that.

I don't often receive phone messages from my dear friends in the UK. They are facebook averse and communicate mainly through email so when I got the message to call, I knew it was going to be bad.

This is Dear Friend 1. On Sunday the fifth he had a massive heart attack and died.
We did not see it coming.

Dear Friend 1 and I have known each other for 24 years. We met in the early days of parenthood; I can't actually recall the exact occasion, but it was early. The kids were still in those baby capsules we carted them about in. I had met Dear Friend 1's partner through baby massage classes and then in one of those complex webs of connection that happen in small cities, been introduced to Dear Friend 2 and his partner through mutual friends V and D and probably Dear Friend1 at the same time. We formed a tight knit group supporting each other through all those early minefields of child rearing, with good food, good company and the occasional glass of wine.

     Dear Friend 2 and Dear Friend 1 enjoying a small tipple in my newly landscaped garden circa 1997

This group were my lifeline. They became like family. Even this year as I visited the UK I said to them that after 16 years in Adelaide I still felt more loved and accepted coming to Southampton and meeting up with them.
 L-R:Dear Friend 2, Dear Friend 1's partner, Dear Friend 1, Dear Friend 2's partner and me. NYE 2018-19

DF1 was in good form, if a little slower and enjoying semi retirement. We only caught up a couple of times as I had opted for a shorter trip but we hugged goodbye and were pleased to acknowledge that, given my Mum's condition, I would be there next Christmas as well.

"See you next Christmas!"


When I learned he had gone, my first thought was how much I would miss him.
I can still hear his laugh, still feel his energy and vitality.
So many of his wise words still echo in my brain.

 Christmas Eve 2018

In the morning I awoke to realise I would never again receive my annual CD of the best music he'd discovered in the past year. I have 17 of these CDs. With liner notes.

His loss is mind numbing and gut wrenching and world shaking. But he has a partner.

Somewhere in my own grief I have to make room for hers.

And here are the twin strands of grief. How do I help, love and support my dear friend in her massive loss, whilst wrestling with my own?

A number of times recently, I have succumbed to the bottle and ended up sending wine smeared, self indulgent messages to her, reflecting my grief, only to wake up and feel awful for inflicting that upon her.

How to navigate this?

I am clueless. I am also 12,000 miles away so I can't bring her a casserole, not that casseroles are my strength.

This morning (her time) I called and we had a good conversation. She is vague and in shock, struggling to make day to day decisions and to keep herself moving forward. I managed to stay calm and (relatively) upbeat, affirming her feelings, sharing memories that had us both giggling and commiserating over animals who will not play the 'bodily functions go outdoors' game. After I got off the phone I howled again. Long and hard.

I'm just not sure how to do this.

Friday, 13 March 2020

A First Hand View of Guts

My guts specifically. Which I am not sure are meant to be spilled across the footpath. Or across the blogosphere for that matter.

After 24 years my bebe, the BA has decided to move out.

This is perfectly normal. She needs to stretch and grow.

I am completely fine with this.

I am also completely bereft.

It is some time since I wrote those words. The BA is now happily ensconsed in a share house with two other school friends. They are 15 mins from the centre of town and  a short walk from one of the premiere music venues in Adelaide.

So...all good then.

I'm not going to pretend this has been an easy transition. After all, my BA was the only flesh and blood relative I have in this country.  We have three cats...but they're not much on the communication front.

Over the last few years we have tended to pass in the night, but at least I knew that.....on most nights....she would arrive home.

She's been the best kid really, contacting me constantly on various social media platforms.
But she is gone.

 I'm surprised I didn't see this coming.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

So Is This Like When You Only Pray Because You're Scared?

How long have I left this blog untouched??? I was moderately surprised to see an almost complete post waiting for me when I clicked on. It took a single photo to complete and yet it has been waiting since January.


So what has brought me back?

Well, it's never good is it? We post the good stuff on facebook. Mind you, I also post some pretty annoying stuff on facebook. This year I can count possums, ceiling leaks, dead rats, significant hip pain and expensive dental work in the topics I have posted about on facebook. None of which drove me back to blogger. Interestingly.

So why am I back now? It's my kid of course.

Last time I expressed fear and anxiety about my bebe back in January, it was around the topic of getting a job. Well, she got one. Of course she did. She is eminently employable: attractive, articulate,  competent, intelligent.

But she's working reception in an accommodations firm.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. Except I know my kid and I know this is not where she will ultimately be.
She is still struggling to find her direction.
She is deeply unhappy.

If all she needed to do was find a job. Shes achieved that. But hasn't brought her happiness. She has so much more to give and she desperately needs a passion.

Sadly, her erratic hours mean she cannot commit to any extra curricular activities like sport or theater. I am sure she needs to find a job which gives her more conventional hours so she can plan out other parts of her life. Either that or she needs a job which actually fulfills her need to contribute to society...

The worst part about all of this for me is that I continue to be 'irritating' and 'annoying' in my attempts to encourage and reassure her. I cannot think of one thing which I can do which would be well received.

I am not sure how to handle this and I am VERY interested in any ideas any of you may have.

Returning from O/S: Whose Life Is This Anyway?

Image result for jetlag

Jetlag is not just something one experiences due to time zones. When you travel 12000 miles and insert yourself into another way of life, the coming back is messy.
Welcome, yes.
A relief, yes.
But still, messy.

I spent a day wandering around my usually familiar house, feeling out of place. I totted up jobs to be done, plants that needed attention, carelessly left items from my mad dash exit.
Where are my routines?
Where is my base level?
27 hours ago I was living in my parents' house, navigating the family shipwreck of Alzheimer's and wrapping up warm for the winter.
What am I doing here in 38C?

My response was to lie on the couch and watch multiple episodes of 'Lucifer'. And sleep. Until 1:30am when it was suddenly physically impossible to sleep!

But two days later I was muscling up to my life, my responsibilities and my joys, with the additional steroid shot of the BA's dad arriving to camp at our place for 5 days.

But let's go back......

In December I flew to the UK to spend Christmas with my family and ski with my sisters.

I knew this would be a roller coaster. My Mum's behaviour at Christmas last year had shocked us all into an understanding that her disease was progressing more rapidly than we could have imagined.
NB: (I have just realised that I posted NOTHING about our Christmas last year! I went to link and....nada!)
So I am going to deal with this post in two halves: the wonderful highlights of the trip....and the realities of my mother's illness.
Part 1: Great Things that Happened While I Was Away
* In Which I meet my dad and daughter at the airport (she left the day before me....)
( OK so it's not actually taken at the airport, but it WAS before I arrived!)

*In Which I make the ludicrous mistake of attempting to take my mother to the Winchester Christmas Markets.

But at least I bought a warm hat.

These were taken after we had called Dad to come and rescue us by picking up Mum.
    a) It was freezing cold and she had not brought a hat or gloves
    b) She is bent double with osteoporosis and can no longer walk for any length of time
    c) she was very anxious about the incredibly close park I had orchestrated with the HUGE hire
        car which I had been saddled with by mistake (and rightly so: we were a gnat's whisker from
        the supporting column and had to fold in the wing mirror to get out!)

* In Which my sister takes me on the birthday of a lifetime!
Step 1: train trip to London with Middle Sis and the BA

Step 2: Lunch at The Real Greek...including complimentary ouzo....

Step 3: Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre

Christmas Tree in the lounge as we ginned up ready for the show.

I LOVED this show. There may have been tears.....

But wait! There's more! My sister had booked an AMAZING buffet Chinese dinner for the whole family (and friends as it turned out)

We then went on to karakoke (until the small hours) which, you can count yourself lucky,
 has not been recorded here !

* In Which we travel to Edinburgh, reconnect with the Very Real Jewel and do all SORTS of stuff!!!!

Silent Lights! A 'silent' performance where you were given earphones and listened to Christmas music whilst watching the light display.

Santaland. The Helter Skelter. (I've got blisters on my fingers!!!!!!)

And the Carousel. I am here to tell you NO-ONE needs to round and round for THAT long!!!!!

 But get this Christmas Tree Maze! That's a LOT of Christmas trees.....

Next the Jewel took us to dinner.

And then to the most wonderful show: Clique Noel Part Deux. Oh my oh my oh my. This was the icing on the cake. Acrobats, fire eaters, comedians, aerialists, magicians and the most, amazing vocalist and band. I was reduced to tears and couldn't stop thanking our Jewel enough.

But WAIT: there's more!!!!

The following day I got to meet up with the SSG and her husband, in a stunning rooftop restaurant looking over The Castle in Edinburgh!

 Then it was back to Southampton.

* I was delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with The BA's Godmother, in the rural pastures of Oxford.

*In which we celebrate my birthday again by going to The Messiah in the Albert Hall. Getting my mother out of the house was a feat in and of itself.

* In which we entertained my mother by encouraging her to make boxes for her grandchildren (to put $ in for Christmas...yes, I have given up on all my values)
These were not exactly as I had envisioned them....but....she did them mostly by herself! Don't know who suggested sticking Christmas cards on them !!!!!    :-(

*In which we spend a splendid Christmas Eve with the baby group.

And then it was Christmas.

Here is our ubiquitous family photo.

* In which we went ice skating with the the family...

* In which we had our second Christmas dinner, with everyone.
With NO MELT DOWNS from Mother!

*In which we visit Windsor and totally fail to get into the castle.

*In which I celebrate New Year's Eve with the best of friends and extraordinary fireworks display which I TOTALLY failed to photograph!

* In which I catch up with the delightful and dear Dr D after many years. We weep together again over the loss of our dear V and have the usual hoot we have together looking at modern art in the Saatchi gallery. Boy I miss all of these guys....

*In which my siblings and I go skiing! So much to say about this.....

The last time I was here in Corvara, I had a shocking case of bronchitis (or something), so much so that I only managed barely 2 and a half days skiing out of 6. I certainly made up for it this time, although my poor Middle Sis suffered the same fate, falling ill on the 3rd day and being confined to quarters for the rest of the trip.

This trip absolutely revived in me my love of skiing. I am determined to go again, for as long as my arthritic joints will support me!!

* In which I visit my dear friend, Danish Girl, in Windsor again...and once more totally fail to see the castle. It was closed for repairs!!!
 Never mind, we had the best time catching up, as always!

And then it was onto the plane for the horrendous 27 hour journey back to Aus. What with turbulence and bad movies, I was relieved to get into Brisbane at 6pm on a Friday night, to be picked up by an ex-pupil from Snow School days. I had not seen this young (?) man since he was about 11 years old.

I've followed him on Facebook and  kept up an entertaining correspondence. It was a complete delight to reconnect.

And now...here I am  7 months later...finally finishing this post. Why? Because facebook has taken over my life. But just recently I have had reason to desire a more private platform. And so I may start to chronicle again.

Beware. You have been warned.