Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Really Good News

It is easy to get DAnte to bed - just let him have his friend Fusion for company and all is well!
Grandad and Dante did find a big swan who was quite interested in what was on offer.

On our way home from hospital we stopped in for a visit to the lake and had a lovely coffee admiring the natural surroundings.

Billy qqwas admiring the olives on this tree. I think it is a family trait to look like you are stealing the olives. He s getting better each day.

This is our new abode for the next week or so. I am so enjoying being here and cooking for a family again!! We have all the cookbooks out and we are eating well....and healthy.

Being in Canberra we are also enjoying some artistic appreciation. Ally has several artistic friends and one of them did this glasswindow for the Chapel at the Canberra Hospital. WE 's we discovered that went to Mass there on Sunday - Billy in a wheelchair - and had time to muse over what it all meant. When we got to Ally's we discovered that it was her friend Mel who had worked on the window and she was glad that we had taken some time to work it out. It was designed to be a meditative mural!! I was the journey of life through the four seasons, reflecting on the hospital admission, treatment, cure and discharge as being a similar jouney.

When we walked into our bedroom at Ally's there was another surprise. Her other artistic friend Alexandra who had made a special vase to order for BIll for our 40th Wedding anniversay had completed the vase with some words that Bill particularly like. It looks wonderful and I can't wait to get it back to the Shutters again!

Dante taking Grandad for a walk down to the lake to see if there are any swans there.

Well the patient has been discharged from Hospital with the good news from his surgeon that the pathology results proved they have removed all the cancerous tissue and no further treatment is required. We hurried home to our temporary haven at Ally's place. She has created a wonderful room for us that is light and airy and full of such wonderful books to read!!

We have had a few outings since leaving hospital. We had coffee on the lake and Bill had time to talk with the ducks and swans under the willows. It was so nice to have the good news about his leg and to know he is able to do what he wants from here on. He has difficulty walking at this stage and is still a bit weak but today we went to Lennox Gardens and had a lovely time in the park having a picnic lunch.

The community health nurse came to dress the leg yesterday and it is healing well. The wound is still quite sore so we have another week or so of recovery. AT this stage we are hoping to back in Ballina on or about 12th March for another week of recovery before Bill returns to work again. He is keen to get back in the saddle but I think he is talking about maybe doing reduced hours for a while.

I have been able to turn my attention to my studies and am ready to do my first paper of our next topic. It has been interesting reading and I am looking forward to putting some thoughts to paper.
More later...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Patient Improves

Well is is Sunday - Four days since the operation and all is going well. His blood pressure is back up to normal (it went very low) and his temperature and returned to a good rate (It had gone a bit high the second evening).The wound was dressed yesterday and it seemed to be as expected. We were both a bit surprised at the depth of the wound.

Today Bill had a shower and was able to sit in a wheelchair while I took him down to mass in the Canberra Hopistal Chapel. It was nice to get him out of bed and he enjoyed the mass in the Chapel where the focus was on the Victorian bushfire tragedy.

After lunch he is allowed to let his leg hang over the side of the bed for five minutes each hour for a few hours to let his leg become accustomed to the increased blood flow and then he will be allowed to walk around his bed. Tomorrow, all going well he will be able to walk to the toilet and shower.

Showering is a big exercise as he can't bend his leg and his whole leg is enclosed in a dressing and bandage which are not allowed to get wet. He is SO looking forward to being without all that baggage!

We have a nice visit from one of his workmates yesterday and in the afternoon Ally and Joe and Dante called in again for a little visit. They then followed me down to Woden and helped with a problem with my printer. Ally had it fixed and then I had a quiet tea and an early night.

I have given Bill a big red journal and his new project is to fill in all he can remember of each year of his life - sixty nine pages!! Maybe it is the start of our life story. At this stage the main elements of each year are Where are You? What are you doing? Who is with you? What special events happened this year? Maybe we will have it outlined well enough to release it for his Seventieth?? I am going to find some photos - so if anyone can send a year and an event they remember well please email to me (allygata) and to Bill (capsonline2) when you get a few moments.

I have commenced doing the same thing for myself and while the first twenty five years will be very different both in georgraphy and social events - after that we should have a very similar and intersting story. We hope to be able to fill in a lot more facts as the years get closer.

I have kept copies of my Christmas Newsletter (NO there wasn't one for 2008!!) since 1985 so that should be a great help in filling in the spaces!

Ally and Joe are going to pick me up from the hospital and take me for a Sunday drive this afternoon out to see Rosa, an old italian friend, who they spent the day with yesterday making fresh tomato pasta sauce. We are going to pick up our share. I will spend the night with them and then be back at the hospital in the morning.

Bill's mobile is working again and he turns it off when he is having some attention so feel free to call if you like. He is really looking forward to getting out of hospital.

Thanks for all your messages...more pictures tomorrow.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am away from home and away from my calendar tools. I did discover as I was going to bed last night that it was Bev Maskells (Alice Springs) birthday yesterday. It is my brother Tracy's (Brisbane) birthday today and my young brother Chris's (Japan)birthday tomorrow.


Bill's Good News

Well the operation for Bills bcc/scc cancer has gone really well so far. The surgeon informs us it went as he had planned and the hard part now will be healing the skin graft over the wound. He has left three pages of specific instructions for the nurses here and so far so good!

He has to have strict bed rest for the first four days. He is already finding that hard! On the fourth day they will let him hang his leg over the bed for five minutes each hour and at the end of the day he can stand up beside the bed. On the fifth day he can walk to the shower. He is counting the minutes..

This is how well he looked on the day after the operation. His leg is very sore but is being managed by painkillers. He slept well last night for the first time - Thursday.

This is the little enemy that caused all the trouble. It was an itchy/scaly patch on the side of his knee for several months and then in November he noticed it had changed. A quick visit to the doctor and his operation was planned forwith.

I felt like being a nurse again! It is great for me to have the time to just look after my special patient. I am looking forward to the recovery period when we can have some really quiet time together and cared for by Ally and Joe.

Dante was the first visitor. He was a bit surprised to see Grandad all in white and lying in a funny bed but he managed to shake hands before he started taking the bed apart!

All your calls and texts have been appreciated. Ally and Joe are looking after me and I am keeping my get fit campaign on track.
God Bless

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February in Ballina

Brigid and I, a good workmate from my Canberra days. She lives nearby in Alstonville and we had a great lunch catching up on the five years since she left Canberra.
Beryl and her family celebrating her 91st birthday. Beryl is bright and witty and the best dressed women in the village!! A very gracious lady.

Bill had read about the Dunoon cafe at a coffee shop in Canberra. We found it last weekend. We bought some finger limes there and have been enjoying them in our drinks since. Good bush tucker!

Billy and Dante after a big day out in Ballina. It is always great to have the little ones together and see how well they get on. It was easy to settle them both - but they sure create a ruckus in my home!

Grandma teaching Dante how to handle the waves at Shelley Beach.

Love seeing all the birds around here. Also getting quite good at catching them on my camera.

Ally sent this photo of Bill and Dante checking out the menu on their journey up with the boat.

While in Canberra we had a nice night out with some old and current workmates of Bill. We girls had a hard time keeping the conversation off work but I think we did manage in the end. It was a great night.

I have just commenced a new way of getting my weight down by considering the size and calories in my food. I thought this looked like Dante asking Grandad how many calories were in his sandwich!

The story resumes.....

Well I seem to be back into a routine again and blogging should be more consistent. Thank you to all those who kept encouraging me to continue and who respond so enthusiastically when I put up a new blog! It is quite addictive!

Anyway - This has been rather a hectic month. We though Bill had his operation scheduled for Feb 3rd so we had lots of plans around that. Ally and Joe had driven up with Bill and his boat under the strict guidance of Dante who managed the trip really well. We had a hectic week following the Australia Day long weekend making sure Joe knew how to catch the right fish here and reminding Dante of what he could and couldn't play with in Grandma's house!

We all flew back to Canberra only to find that the operation had been re-scheduled to a fortnight later and a different hospital. I came back to Ballina to join my study course and to catch my breath for a while. While she was here Ally had introduced me to the competiive side of the Wii machine and I am having such fun..and hopefully improved health.

This week we also re-commenced our Theology Study course. Our first meeting was great, enjoyable, interesting and provocative! I am really enjoying the study although I find it a bit time constraining now and then. There is a lot of reading which I can manage well but the thinking about the reading takes up most of my time....and then there is the point where you have to put your thoughts onto paper!! The current unit is Revelation.

Sha and Dympna are coming for a roast chicken here tonight. Murray is on his way to Brisbane for two weeks and on Tuesday I fly to Canberra. Last night we had a ladies night with Kath, Dympna and Marie. It was a very interesting discussion on local topics and we stayed up a bit later than we should have!!

Dympna and I went to see the movie Doubt during the week. We were both a bit uncomfortable with the movie but I am enjoying discussing it and thought it was really thought provoking. Certainly makes you aware of the dangers of rumours and how easy suspicion can get out of hand! The acting was superb.

This week we also celebrated the 91st birthday of Beryl Greenwood. Beryl is the aunt of my best friend Bev in Alice Springs and has recently moved into the retirement village here. She is in the hostel section and we shared a coffee with her family prior to their big birthday lunch.

On Friday I had lunch with another old friend, Bridgid. We had worked together in Canberra and Ally had worked with her also. We had a nice time catching up on the five years since we had met!!

Life here is busy, fun and still quite relaxed. I will talk about our 40th wedding anniversary in Perth in November and all the family gatherings we had here in January in my next blog....and then I will try and keep up to date.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy to be Home

So Happy to be home at last, the happy travellers met at my place for a celebration dinner a few weeks after our return. This is the Gardenia Room next door to my unit and it is available for dinner parties etc.
You can see why Dympna and I enjoyed having our breakfast in our room!!

Mid morning and the tea pickers were busy getting the little fresh leaves at the top of the bushes.

This is a well loaded coffee bush. Whatever you do don't accept an offer to have some 'weasel coffee'. It has an interesting production process! Vietnam is a big exporter of coffee, second only to Brazil.

We loved the markets. so much we didn't have a clue what it was though!! We began to make up names and uses for some of the things we saw.

Dymp and I at a Zen Monastery admiring the topiary work.

This was the feast we discovered when we got back on board after our snorkelling exercise!

Little baskets that transported us from the shore to our boat. They are made out of 'buffalo chocolate'! Yes - the dung from the buffalo is used to waterproof the cane baskets made out of rice straw. We did feel safe but were careful to wash our hands before dinner.

Amazing scenes when you head into the hills around Dalat.

After our early morning (4.45am) mass we visited the beach and watched the sunrise. I am leaning agains the palm tree near the bikes.

There was so much to see and do in Vietnam. We were all surprised at the resilience of the people, their capacity to enjoy what they had and the way they went about their daily lives. We didn't see any road rage and we only saw one accident - which for the kind of road and the amount of traffic and the fact that there didn't seem to be any road rules was amazing!!
Travelling in our own bus was very comfortable. It was airconditioned and we had a really great guide. Hau was a young educated local and really made the trip for us. He quickly learned what we did and didn't like and made sure we each got to do what we wanted as well as keeping the group occupied. We had several teachers in our group so we had lots of great conversation, lots of fun competitions and sang lots of patriotic songs!!
We particularly enjoyed seeing the rice paddies, the tea and coffee plantations and the activities that turned leaves and nuts into multiple products. The Vietnamese do somuch with the eucalytptus tree. It is made into paper, wood products, Tiger Balm and tea!!
We spent time in the cities and in the fields, on the beach, on the rivers, in museums and galleries, in the mountains and at the markets and shops. It was a very well planned trip and Heather our tour guide did a great job of preparing us before we left and making sure we were having fun on the way. It was a most enjoyable trip.
There is nothing so good as being on the last leg , doing the duty free shopping and landing in Sydney though! Great to be somewhere where you can read all the signs and talk to everyone! Dympna and I headed for the pie shop and had a good coffee and a pie. Before long our plane to Ballina boarded and we were back home at the Shutters.
Billy arrived up at 11pm that night, the children started phoning in, and all was well in my little world again.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nah Trang to Ballina

Scenes from Vietnam:

The standard of the accommodation was excellent. It was at least four star if not five. We loved coming to each new hotel and enjoying the luxury after a day in the country!
The cooking class we took was great. Learnt how to make fresh vietnamese spring rolls and a fish dish. We each got a little cook book and we ate what we cooked....and enjoyed it!

Coming up from the rice paddy with some rice stalks. I was so impressed with the demeanour of the workers, smiling, gently and always working but slowly. They didn't waste any of the crop either - used the seeds, the stalks and the well as the rice!!

Up in the mountains on the way to Dalat. Very picturesque. apparently was used by the Americans and French during the war as it had spectacular overview of the coastline.

Bikes, bikes and more bikes. Usually carrying a family of four - we did see a family of six. Babies are carried in papooses on someones back and some sit on the handlebars.

This is a traditional family fishing with a wire net on a wheel.
We had a great night out when we were dressed as the Kings and Queens of Vietnam. they dressed us all in about five minutes and we dined in our outfits. food was varied and delicious .

On one of our day cruises Dympna checked out the shopping. We bought some great clothes made in silk and have had lots of fun wearing the outfits here in Ballina.

On a lazy day Dympna and I had breakfast on a tray in our room. they wheeled in a big table and poured out hot coffee and hot toast. It was very special!! We had several "lazy" days!

We visited the musuems - this is the first time we lined up for a photo in vietnam. It is Ho Chi Minns Museum and Grave. He wasn't there. They had taken him to Paris for a make-over!
We had lots of fun, learnt lots including some very patriotic songs, and really enjoyed the company of our fellow tourists and new friends.
Will finish off tomorrow and get on with the rest of 2008....and then I can start on 2009. sorry..