Saturday, December 10, 2011

My 2011 review

2011 – life with us at Yass
Well, it’s been a ‘mixed bag’ of a year for us – Just over a year has passed since Leo (my sister, Clare’s husband) died from melanoma, which was very sad. Then, ‘Tricia’ (my sister Patricia) lost her husband John mid-year. Last week Rhonda’s sister-in-law, Leonie also passed away – cancer again! In the past three months three town ‘regulars’, real 'characters', known to me have also passed on – two of them quite unexpectedly.

One thing about funeral’s you meet up with family you haven’t seen for ages. It was especially nice to catch up with many of Rhonda's side of the family

Niece Karen and husband David – Karen is a Wing Commander in the RAAF and David is a RAAF ‘Flag Officer’ with the rank of Air Commodore. He resigned his commission in the UK’s RAF to join the RAAF and be with Karen in Australia – Karen also served on detachment with the RAF.

Karen and David’s son, Jamie, our Great Nephew - a real "Todd throwback"!

Niece Wendy (with her nephew Jamie) with her partner, David, second to her left (suit, seated) and David's extended family. They are grazier’s running sheep at Grabben Gullen, between Gunning and Crookwell – best sheep country in Australia.

It was also a year when I underwent lots of corrective urological surgery in Sydney, fixing up the damage the urologist in Canberra left me with after a botched prostatectomy. Long story but I needed that done before the orthopaedic surgeon would do my right knee replacement – now I’ve got two titanium knees - a patched up waterworks, a whole heap of new scars and becoming more and more decrepit each passing week as osteo-arthritis sets in everywhere. My skin is like tissue paper and any pressure results in bruising, whereas a mere ‘rake’ across some rough surface will tear it away – it takes months to heal over.

I got through the rehab stage post-total knee replacement well enough to get back driving as a volunteer driver for our local Home Living Support Service but 2 trips a week is enough for me as the (usual) return trip to Canberra with a couple of hours waiting is quite tiring.

As a Home Living Support Service volunteer driver I get to drive a lot of people, Mostly frail aged, to different destinations. To specialists, hospitals, to clinics for some fairly severe treatments. I've watched them age during their treatments, lose their hair and energy, become breathless and weaker but they never lose that 'spark' in their eyes as they tell me about themselves and their families.

I sometimes even drive them on their penultimate ride to a nursing home and/or a hospice. In the past year, 2011, five of my regular clients have died from the ailments they have been treated for.

I have had many a long chat with them on our journeys. They are only too willing to go down 'memory lane' and tell me about their lives, growing up in far distant eras, surviving World Wars, etc. They are full of stories on the history of the region and its inhabitants, of swimming in river waterholes and trekking long distances for the simplest of pleasures such as attending the church fete or the town agricultural show. Of course, many of them knew each other and had many a tale to tell about some of the others – but that would be breaking confidence to repeat those stories LOL!

Thank God Rhonda has remained fit and well, however, I suspect even she is starting to show the signs of general ‘wear and tear’. She still works, full time, at a public hospital in Canberra, commuting between Yass and work for each of her shifts – a 120 klms round trip. Then on her days off she’s into the housework and shopping like a real Trojan. It’s good to get away every few weeks and give her a complete ‘time out’ break up at ‘The Camp’ where she sews, cooks and potters in the garden.

We’ve rebuilt some of the gardens around the house, removing the ‘jungles’ and replacing them with something more eye-pleasing and easier to maintain, however, the encroaching kikuyu grass in this region requires regular weeding out of its invasive runners. We also rebuilt the street garden at our retreat at Wyangala dam and added a steel rail fence enclosure around the patio area so that we can leave Denny outside without worrying about him chasing ‘Roo’s or rabbits.

Some of you may recall that we had disposed of our old BBQ and bought ourselves a ‘state-of-the-art’ Weber 100E BBQ. Well here it is –

We are looking forward to some great BBQ’s over Christmas and New Year.

Of course, any year's summary would not be done without including a picture of Denny. Here he is sunning himself on the front porch and resisting my attempts to move him so I could apply a new coat of decking oil to the surface.

We like to get up to Wyangala Waters State Park regularly – we have an on-site van and annexe on leasehold up there, known as “The Camp” –  it’s near Cowra and we can usually manage a 2 to 3 overnight stay every two to three weeks. Mostly we go mid-week to avoid the weekend crowd who like to ‘party’ at night. We like the peace and quiet and in winter we virtually have the park to ourselves and are on good terms with all the park staff. The van is an old 6m Millard but its dry and comfortable and we have a 6m annexe set up as our living quarters with reverse cycle air conditioner for summer and a Rinnai gas heater for winter heating. Add the 6x3m covered patio area and its very spacious. Its built up high and we overlook the casual caravan park area. A digital dish TV antenna is to be fitted shortly so we will get live TV soon. (Hooray for the footie and cricket and, finally, some daily news broadcasts.)

Our daughter Kathleen and her partner, Anthony, have moved back from Hobart and taken up residence at Campbelltown (pardon me, that’s ‘Eschol Park’!)  Kat has a good job with an Insurance company and Ant has just obtained a very good position with Samsung starting next week. Kat has the boys, Aidan and James, every second weekend and will have them for Christmas this year. We manage to maintain a cordial relationship with Aidan and James other grandparents through a mutual concern for the boy’s well-being. We see them from time-to-time but not as much as we’d like. We are looking forward to a new Year visit from all four of them.

Here’s wishing you and all your family and friends a Merry Christmas, and a happy and safe New Year.

John and Rhonda

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