Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

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Name:
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except two cats and a collection of finches, canaries and Rhode Island bantam hens.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Retail therapy of the opshop kind.

I spent 3 hours with MIL at the hospital this morning. Fortunately it is only 15 minutes drive from home. I took in her newspaper, some lollies, and a few other bits and pieces that she needed, and got to know the nurses on duty at that time. They were flat out like the proverbial lizard this morning, and hadn't given MIL a wash when I got there at 10.30 am, so I took her into the bathroom and helped her wash herself all over. One of the nurses came looking for MIL and was astonished to find us in there! She was embarrassed at first, thinking I was cross that they hadn't got around to washing MIL, but I said no, it's not that at all. I explained that I'm MIL's live-in carer, and she is used to me, so I thought it would be more comfortable for her to have me looking after her today. The nurse was grateful, but said "don't feel you have to do it again - this is respite time for you!"

MIL is a fussy eater, like many older people, and she always turns her nose up at hospital food (which I always think looks delicious when I'm visiting someone in hospital! Probably because I didn't have to cook it...) So when MIL was served a large plate of fish and vegies for lunch, I knew what her reaction would be. She poked at it for a while then pushed it away and just had a cup of tea. I asked the nurse if they would mind if I brought in lunch for MIL from now on, as I would be visiting every day, and the nurse said "Feel free! She has no dietary restrictions, and if she prefers your cooking to ours, that's fine. What does she like for lunch anyway?" I said "An English muffin with cheese and gherkin relish". The nurse said "Well, she wouldn't be getting that here!"

On the way home, I passed a large opshop that I hadn't visited for some months, so I drove in and spent a lovely hour browsing the whole shop, and buying a few silly things that made me feel good! Click on this link if you want to see what I lashed out on.

I feel like Atlas.

Remember Atlas, the Titan of mythology who supported the sky on his shoulders? I was feeling a bit like him on the weekend. I live with my husband Ken who is not in good health, and his 96 year old mum who is frail and needs help on several levels. My paid work entails looking after aged and disabled people, and I am a volunteer for an organisation which caters for socially isolated people. One of my friends works for two aged care hostels, and also cares for her husband and two children, all of whom suffer some kind of disability. She once said to me "Gina, you must take holidays regularly - away from home and work, away from needy people. You live with, work with and volunteer to work with needy people, but there is nobody to care for you if you need help. Believe me, it can get you down eventually, even if you like what you do".

She was right. She became very ill last year and as far as I know, still hasn't returned to work, nearly one year on. I thought of her last weekend, when I'd finished off the housework on Saturday afternoon and looked around for my two charges. Ken had a busy morning, and was so tired by lunchtime, he stretched out on the bed and went to sleep. His mum said she was feeling tired too, so she had a snooze on the couch. Gosh I felt good! To have my afternoon free to do what I wanted to, without being on call for food,drink, help with something, etc. I spent the next two hours on the computer, writing long overdue letters to friends!

Then, last night I was granted a reprieve for a few weeks. Not the way I would have wanted, if I'd had a choice, but accidents do happen, and we had one at our place.
MIL had a fall in the lounge room. I called an ambulance immediately, and she was taken to the Austin Hospital. Her hand was painful, so they took X rays and found one of her fingers was broken. Her hand and arm up to the elbow was put in plaster, and they were going to send her back home, but I kicked up a fuss and said it would be impossible for me to care for her in that state. She needs both hands to use her walking frame, and without that to support herself, she wouldn't be able to go to the toilet on her own, or walk around the house as she normally does. Ken and I would be on tenterhooks the whole time, and probably wouldn't be able to sleep in case she got up to use the toilet and had another fall. Ken and his sister backed me up on this, so the doctor had her transferred to a Private hospital not far from us, where she will probably stay for at least a couple of weeks, and then go into respite of some sort. She will be assessed by a physio and occ.therapist this week and they will tell me what has to be done. She has to have the plaster on for about six weeks, and while that is on her arm, I can't look after her at home, as I can only help her if she is mobile.

So, as I said - I have some freedom again, although I will be visiting her every morning, taking the daily paper in, and any clothes or other items she might need. But I won't have the 24/7 responsibility for that time, and I have to admit, while I am coping well, after two months I was yearning for a break. Ken's sister was planning to take her Mum to stay over there this coming weekend, so they have an unexpected free weekend too. But when (if) MIL comes back here, Ken and I will be holding his sister to her promise of taking MIL to her place on a regular basis. Ken has a new health issue to deal with, and we need some time on our own to allow him to adjust. He can't tell his Mum about it, as she would worry, so he had been bottling it up inside for the past month. As much as he is now concerned for his Mum, he is also relieved that we will have some space together.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Time out for relaxing, and something to relax in!

Last month (the last month of summer here in Australia) seems like a bad dream now. Autumn in Melbourne is just about the best time of the year. We can still have rather warm days like today (33 deg.C), but the weather is much more pleasant overall -just right for indulging in a snooze in Ken's Christmas gift to me - a hanging swing-chair. He finally got around to installing it a couple of days ago. It is supposed to hang from a chain, but that brought the seat too close to the ground, even when the chain was doubled over itself, so Ken is going to mess around with it to see if he can shorten it. In the meantime, he hung it from the rope top, and I have to stand on something to get into it, but that's okay. It's great! Like being in a small boat gently bobbing in a lake.

Critters (the feathered variety).

As I typed the heading for this post, I suddenly wondered where the Americans got the word 'critters' from. It has to be American - the Beverley Hillbillies are always referring to their critters!! After thinking about it, I decided it must be a variation on the word 'creatures'. Am I correct? Anyway, here are some more of ours.


We came into the kitchen this morning and looked out the window to see the Family waiting for breakfast. They're not content with sitting in the trees any more - they know which door we emerge from and they want to be that bit closer!

Yesterday, the Corellas returned to the front yard. Like most of the larger cockatoos, they are nervous of humans, and take off as soon as we open the door. I got this pic of one of them up in the nearest tree, being squawked at by the two Lorikeets on a higher branch.

In the more domestic line of birds (as opposed to the native Australian variety) this is our Rooster - "Matt". Named after the young guy who gave us the egg which contained Matt before he hatched. His hens were nearby, but I wanted a pic of Matt on his own. Handsome little fellow, isn't he?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More little critters for my friend Patty.

OK, not just Patty - anyone else who is interested! Tonight was busy at the Wilson's. We had possums playing chasey through the trees in our front yard, and when they'd finished tearing around, they came to the front porch for a feed of apple.

This little bloke is a Ringtail Possum - smaller than the Brushtail, with a thin tail which they can wind around a branch to keep them from falling! He was half way up his tree - about 5 metres at a guess - and this is as close as I could get with the zoom on my camera.

Brushtail in the bird feeder box. He has a bit of seed on his nose after eating apple which had been among the seed husks.

This little guy is a young Brushtail. He was up on the rafters waiting for the Big Boys to finish before he ventured down for the leftovers!

One of the Brushtails in a tree. Even with the camera flash, they are well camouflaged in the branches at night.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This and that....

We had rain today. Lots of torrential rain and thunderstorms. It was wonderful. I had just hung a full load of washing on the line this morning, when the rain started. I left it there for a short while, then took it all back in, put it through the rinse cycle in the machine again, then into the dryer. And not a word of complaint! Our rainwater tank is nearly half full already. We may not need it until next summer, who knows? But it is comforting to know we have our own little supply, without feeling guilty about washing the cars or hosing the lawns. It's OURS, to do what we want with!

I spend half my life these days feeding birds and animals. Kookaburras in the back yard and Lorikeets in the front yard every morning. Other birds during the day - galahs, lorikeets, magpies, currawongs, all of which were joined today by corellas and Eastern rosellas. Then at dusk we have the kookaburras back for their tea, followed by the possums after dark for their apple. Ken got some great photos today of the corellas, galahs and lorikeets all on one tree, so as soon as he puts them on his laptop, he'll email them to me so I can post them here.

Other than that, we've been busy keeping MIL happy. Well, trying to. She's not too bad most of the time, but when we leave her alone (even if we are just in other rooms of the house) for any length of time, she gets sulky and says things like 'You may as well put me in a nursing home. I know you don't really want me. You haven't got time to be with me' and so on...It's hard not to get cross, but we have to be firm with her, as people with dementia can be quite manipulative, and if we don't set ourselves parameters, our lives would be a misery. It usually only takes a hug and kiss to cheer her up, but it is still emotionally draining, especially for Ken, who has not had to deal with this kind of thing before. If I had not had the training and 10 years of experience in aged care, I don't know how I would cope. I keep telling Ken that at 96, she won't be with us much longer in terms of years, and after that, our lives will be our own again. So just make the most of having her with us, even if she annoys the crap out of us occasionally!!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Bush fires were HOW hot???

Ken took his Suzuki to our local bike shop for a service last week. I drove him over there today to pick it up, and Steve, the owner of the shop, showed me what was left of one of his bikes. He had a property up at Strathewan which was burnt out by the bushfires, destroying a caravan, motorcycle, and other bits and pieces.
All that was left was this:
This was a post-hole digger.


And these were the wheels on his motorcycle.

Snow Leopard cubs at the Melbourne Zoo.

Somebody at the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne must be an animal lover extraordinaire. Whenever any of the animals at the Zoo have babies, the photographer is out there snapping the cutest photos which are usually on Page 1 or 3 of the paper. This week it is the turn of the Snow Leopards at the Melbourne Zoo. They had a pair of cubs 3 months ago, and they are now officially on show to the public. I took a snap of the main photo in the paper,

but there are heaps more on their website. Go here to see the photo gallery

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Kookaburra photos on new blog.

I've created another blog. It is to record the photos I've taken of the kookaburras that have been visiting our back yard every day for food and water. I've put a few on this blog, but I've taken about 20 photos of these endearing birds, and there are too many to put on this blog. Go here to see our Laughing Family

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Blogs that come and go.

I'm culling my list of Blogs That I Like To Read. Some of my old favourites haven't been active for some time, so it is no use leaving them there. Some others I don't get to very often these days, so I'm removing them too. Hope nobody is offended. I always try to return the compliment when someone comments on my blogs, so if you visit, I'll be sure to visit you in return.

I've found a few blogs lately that I might add to my list, but as I don't have as much time as I used to, I'll be keeping it short.

Isabelle's Interview.

Isabelle over in Scotland wanted to know more about her blogger friends, so she set up individual questionnaires for those who agreed to participate. Here is mine:


1.You're obviously a very caring and helpful person. Was there something in your upbringing that made you this way or was it always part of your personality?
My mother had a severe stroke when she was 37, not long after I was born - which left her partially paralysed on her right side. As a result of growing up with a disabled person, I've instinctively wanted to assist disabled people that I have met throughout my life.

2.What other countries have you been to, and is there somewhere you would like to travel but haven't so far?
I've been to the USA (three times), Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and The Philippines. I'd like to go to Western Australia, which is the only state of Australia that I haven't been to.

3.A mysterious benefactor has given you $1000 to spend on yourself. What will you do with it?
A new computer (this one is 9 years old) or a new sewing machine (my machine is over 50 years old!)

4.What are your favourite colours for house d├ęcor?
Depends on the style of the house! Our 36 year old house has exposed beams, brick interior walls and a cedar wood feature wall. Not much left to paint, but the remaining plaster walls are painted cream. I like neutral colours for interiors - it allows you to use any colour in furnishings.

5.What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Stay a virgin for a few more years!!! (I had a disastrous relationship with an awful bloke when I was 19).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Living on tenterhooks.

Poor little Victoria. From being the beautiful Garden State with a booming population, I think we might have a mass exodus after the bushfires have died down and people can regroup. How much longer can we live with the media's dire threats every few days of 'horror weather patterns' promising to get the existing fires burning out of control again, and sparking new ones?

Ken and I finally got to pull our Gazebo down tonight, We decided it just had to be done one way or another, because if the weather forecast is accurate, the gazebo framework could take off in a heavy wind and do any amount of damage if it landed in someone's property. So we went outside armed with the instructions, and it folding up fairly quickly and neatly.

We still have up to a dozen kookaburras arriving in the back yard every day for breakfast and dinner. Sometimes only one or two are waiting, and I put out a little bit of meat for them. Next thing, half a dozen will swoop down from nearby trees, so I have to go back inside and get some more food for them! Sooooo cute. The neighbours (the nice ones) think it's wonderful - they've been in with their cameras, and want to come in again while the kookas are still coming in numbers.

Possums have always been with us here, but there seem to be more than usual. We heard of a wildlife carer who had a lot of ringtail possums she needed temporary homes for, and was asking over the radio if anyone had room in aviaries for them. When I told Ken he said no, we didn't have room for possums in his aviaries. But when someone told us a few days later, that another carer had a bunch of koalas in her house that needed temporary homes, he jumped at the chance of having one or two of those in his aviaries! I said 'but you said you didn't have enough room', to which he replied 'That was for possums. I'd make room for koalas!'

MIL has settled in well with us; she is eating well, taking all her medications when prompted by me, and dressing herself. Sadly, dementia is rearing its ugly head, so there are some personality changes, which is upsetting Ken and his sister. I've told them not to worry at this stage; I've been working with older people for 10 years, so I know what to expect, and how to deal with it.

adopt your own virtual pet!