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.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except a cat and a collection of Australian parrots, finches, canaries and a dozen hens.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding.

We thought we'd watch a bit of it here and there, but we got sucked in! Ken and I don't call ourselves royalists, or monarchists, or any other name, but we both have British ancestry, so we tend to find English history and traditions interesting, and love to watch documentaries about England and Scotland, even though neither of us have been there.

I LOVED Kate's wedding dress, it was so elegant (compared to Diana's wedding cake creation), and they made a lovely pair. It seemed to be a perfect day over there - the weather was kind, the crowds were enthusiastic, and the Abbey is of course absolutely awe inspiring. Ken and I toasted William and Kate with a glass of white wine, and I took some photos of the t.v., just to pretend we were really there!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Japanese blog, and good news for Ken.

I have added another blog to my list in the side bar. The real name of the blog is "My Kimono Diary in Nagoya", but I have called it "Daily Life in Japan" because that is what it is. The man who writes it posts photos of the town where he lives, and all the traditional festivals, with explanations of them. If you are interested or even just curious about the culture of Japan outside the big westernised cities, you should visit this blog. It is fascinating, and the photos are stunning.

We saw Ken's cardiologist (Mark) today, for the first time since before he had the operation. Mark said he is very pleased with the result of the operation, and told Ken he could start driving whenever he wanted to, but he probably wouldn't be able to return to work for another 6 to 8 weeks. As he did with the surgeon, Ken asked Mark if the surgery was so successful, why was he having trouble breathing. Mark explained that during heart surgery, the lungs are deflated for a couple of hours, and even a good healthy pair of lungs will take a couple of months to recover from the stress of the operation. In Ken's case though, it will take longer, but he was quite optimistic about Ken's recovery, and said that he will certainly feel heaps better in a couple of months.

We came home feeling a lot brighter than we felt last week after speaking to the cardiac surgeon, who made Ken's health sound almost terminal! Okay, Ken understands that he does have a serious problem with his lungs, but Mark reassured him that he will be able to live a more active life than he had previously, simply because his heart is working better.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Playing with paper....again!

My friend in Japan sent me a package of Washi (Japanese craft paper) for my birthday, and I have been bursting to use some of it. I borrowed this book from our library a while ago, and enjoy it so much, I keep renewing the loan. I know this can't go on, so I found a copy on eBay right here in Melbourne, so I hope to have my own book very soon.

One of my favourite designs is this one, and as I have dozens of swap cards that I don't want in my collection of thousands, I pulled them out and looked for a Queen so I could make this collage.

Couldn't find a Queen, but a King is just as good, so this is what I came up with, using some of my Washi paper.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter to all my blog readers.

I found this image here. Lots of beautiful Victorian postcards to download.

One step forward, two steps back.

The news is not all good from this end. Last Friday, we went to the Austin for Ken's first (and last) post-op. outpatients appointment. We saw the surgeon who was in charge of Ken's bypass operation and he said he was very pleased with Ken's progress - the heart is pumping well, and all the vital signs are good. Ken asked why he is still having problems breathing when he exerts himself, and Dr S. said "When we opened your chest up, the lungs were black. They are supposed to be pink. You won't get any better than what you are now, because the damage has been done, and the emphysema is severe". I said "Well, what was the point of having the bypass operation then?" and he replied that Ken will have a few more years to live now as long as he doesn't smoke, and takes life easy. But he should see a lung specialist as soon as possible. They (the hospital) can't do any more for him.
He saw the expressions on our faces, and said that Ken should continue with the cardio rehab program, as well as walking as often as he can, because that will help to strengthen the heart and keep the lungs working to their capacity.

Hmm. We went for a walk in a local park on the way home, and again today. We walked for over half an hour on both days, and Ken was exhausted each time. But he knows he has to keep pushing himself, and when I 'nagged' him to get out of bed today and get ready to go for a walk, he was not happy, but when we got back home, he thanked me for keeping on his back about it. I visited Helen this afternoon while Ken was having a snooze, and when I told her about Ken, she said "Oh I know how he feels. I get so tired very quickly since the stroke. But at least I can breathe". They are good for each other in a strange way. She is grateful because she can breathe, and Ken is grateful because he isn't paralysed. Just goes to show doesn't it - that we all have something to be grateful for. I breathe easily and I'm not paralysed, so I'm twice as lucky.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A very Japanese themed birthday!

Before I write about my birthday, I want to express my sympathy for my American readers who may have been caught up in the catastrophic tornadoes over there. I cannot begin to imagine how terrifying it must be to live in areas that experience these storms year after year. In northern Australia we have seasonal cyclones, but seriously bad ones like Yasi only come occasionally. New Zealand and Japan have earth tremors most of the time, but severe earthquakes rarely. They are all bad enough, but I was so shocked to see the damage in the USA from these latest tornadoes, and I do hope that all of you who read this blog are okay. I would really love a short message from any of you who live over there, to let me know (if)you are okay.

My friends (and rellies) know how much I love anything Japanese, so I was delighted to receive so many lovely birthday gifts to remind me of that beautiful country.

This is the book that I asked Ken to buy for my birthday. I have been admiring it on the shop shelf for ages, and went straight to it with Ken in tow!

My paper-crafty friend Val found these goodies at a Japanese store in the inner city area, and thought they would make a fun gift. I love them! Heart shaped paper punch, embossing kit, paper lace, tiny fabric bows. Guess I'll be doing even more paper craft stuff in the near future.
Val made this carry bag from a page of a Japanese calendar. In true Origami style, there is no cutting, pasting, stapling or any kind of join - it is all in the folding. Ken was fascinated when he had a close look.

Glenda also loves Japanese stuff and has as much if not more than I do. She gave me this cute Kimono doll storage jar. Ken asked what I was going to put in it, and where was I going to put it, in my already crowded kitchen. I replied that I don't know yet, but I'll find a spot for her!

The rest of my gifts were not Japanese themed, but I love them just the same! This tealight sculpture is called Circle of Friends, and was given to me by Louise, who is one of a group of friends who live in this area, that I've known for many years. We meet occasionally for dinner, and she chose this to represent the five of us. Can't wait to show it to the others.

Ken's sister gave me this book on quilting, along with the Spotlight $50 gift voucher - good thinking, SIL! I've already got my shopping list to buy fabrics there that I didn't get at the Quilt convention last weekend!

Sandra is one of the five friends that I mentioned above, and she gave me this exquisite scarf. I just love the colour, and the texture of the knitting is beautifully soft, not scratchy. I don't wear scarves in winter very often because I hate the feel of wool around my neck, but this will be warm and soft...

Turning points for Ken and Gina!

The turning point for me was my 63rd birthday last Friday. I had a fabulous day, thanks to my dearest friends who sent cards and dropped in with beautiful gifts (more about that in another post). But what made the day even better was Ken's own turning point. We attended the cardiac rehab program at the Austin hospital in the morning, not knowing what to expect. The first hour was taken up with a lecture by two nutritionist/nurses, who spoke about cholesterol. Believe it or not, they were very interesting; there was a lot to take in, and far from being bored with something we thought we knew about, we learnt a lot, as did the other dozen people who were present.

The next hour was taken up with exercising. The room has exercise bikes, treadmills, a set of stairs that they have to walk up and down a number of times, hand weights, and various other items that you might find in a gym. As it was Ken's first day, the nurses assessed him as he attempted to keep up with the other patients, most of whom had been attending the classes for a while. They started off doing steps forward and back to music, stretching their arms up and out. I was watching Ken, and it didn't take long for him to get tired. He looked at me desperately, but the nurses had also been watching him, and told him to stop and rest. The next thing they did was sit on the bicycles and pedal for 5 minutes or longer if they felt they could. Ken went for about 7 minutes. After that, they took him through various other exercise routines, making notes on a chart after each one. The other patients in the meantime were doing their own thing. It doesn't matter when you start the program; after the first day when you are assessed, you are monitored by the nurses, who instruct you how much further to push yourself each week, and eventually, you know how much you can do yourself, so you just get on with it.

I was astonished at how well Ken coped with it all. When we were driving home, I said "I guess you're looking forward to getting home and collapsing on to the bed!" and he said "Not really. Why don't we stop somewhere for lunch? It's your birthday after all". So we stopped in Eltham and had a coffee and muffin snack, then we did a bit of shopping, which took up an hour, as I led him into the bookshop and chose my birthday present, as he hadn't had the opportunity to get me something since he came home from hospital.

When we got home, he did lie down for a little while, but some friends dropped around for my birthday, and later on, Ken's sister and her hubby came over, so it was a long day for him. On Saturday he rested up for most of the day, and the same on Sunday, although my oldest brother visited for a couple of hours and we took him up to see the birds. Today (Monday) we went to one of the local parks and walked for about half an hour. He truly has come a long way since last week, hence the blog title of a turning point. He looks and sounds more like the way he was before the operation, and he admits to feeling a whole lot better, even though he still gets tired quickly. He's got four medical appointments in the next two weeks, with the hospital and cardiologists, so it will be interesting to hear what they think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Not much to write about...

I'm not doing anything worth writing about on my blog, but for the sake of my kind friends who read this blog, I can tell you that Ken's recovery has been very slow.
The blood tests he had last week showed no sign of anaemia; in fact the doctor was pleased with them. He said that Ken's liver, kidneys, heart, etc. all showed up as being pretty good. So there is no actual cause for him feeling 'lousy' as he describes himself. There are good days and bad days. On the bad days he barely has enough energy to get out of bed, but I encourage him to at least get dressed, even if he wants to lie on the couch all day. For a few days last week all he wanted for tea was boiled rice and poached eggs. So that's what I served up (I treated myself to a few little luxuries such as smoked salmon and avocado on rye bread...yum), but his appetite improved, and we had a roast dinner on Saturday night which we both enjoyed.

We have had a steady stream of visitors, spacing themselves out every second day so Ken has a chance to rest on the alternate days. Today he had to go for an X-ray (he says he doesn't need to go anywhere near Japan to be radioactive after all the X-rays he's had lately), and after that was done, we stopped at the shopping centre to buy some birthday cards. He wanted to buy mine, because he doesn't know when he'll be well enough to go out again before my birthday on Friday. Well, we got to the newsagent, and once he'd selected a card and paid for it, he looked for somewhere to sit down. After a few minutes we moved on to Coles where he wanted something, but before we went in the store, he had to stop and sit down to regain his breath. Then, when we came out, he had to sit down again. By the time we got to my car (across the road from Coles) he was exhausted, and I couldn't even drive off until he'd recovered from that little jaunt.

This is what upsets him; the rehab. clinic information sheet says after 4 weeks the patient should be walking one kilometre a day, but he can hardly walk 10 metres! He is starting to wonder if he'll ever be able to return to work. All the medics tell him it is because of his lungs, and he will just have to be patient with himself. The nurse in charge of the hospital cardiac rehab clinic is coming here tomorrow, to work out a personal exercise program for Ken, as she recognises that he can't do what most heart patients are already capable of doing. On a good day, he will walk up the back yard to see the birds in his aviaries (which I have been looking after, in addition to looking after Ken and the cats!), and on a nice sunny day we will sit up there for up to half an hour. But that tires him out, and he wants to go back inside and lie down.

All this has curtailed my usual activities of opshopping, visiting art and craft galleries with friends, meeting friend for coffee or lunch, and so on. But the upside of that is that I'm not spending any money! Which is good, seeing Ken isn't earning anything now. My friend Glenda who lives around the corner is good company; when I have to go shopping, I call her and she will come with me if she is free.
Helen and Ray visited last week, bringing freshly made scones with jam and cream (Helen makes the BEST scones), and we had a lovely afternoon out on the patio. Sadly, Ken wasn't feeling well, and couldn't stomach anything except a cup of tea, but Helen left the remaining scones here for me to freeze, so I re-heated them on Sunday afternoon when some other friends came to visit, and Ken tucked into them!

Tiger is growing rapidly, and still doing cute kitty things, like crawling into my shopping tote bags and falling asleep.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

A few photos taken today.

Sorry if you find my blog depressing lately. But I see my blog as an online journal or diary of my day to day life, and if I'm not on top of the world at the time of typing, that is where I'm at, and that is what I write about! But it is good to find time out with other more pleasant things.
This is Tiger's version of "Underbelly":

A few weeks ago, our gardener turned my compost bin out (it was too heavy for me to lift), and I have been using the lovely rich soil all over the garden and in pots. I put some in our old wheelbarrow, and planted some pansies and a few odd bulbs that were lying around. Well, after a week or two, one could see exactly what I'd been throwing in the compost bin - tomato bits and pumpkin seeds!! I've pulled out the baby pumpkins that were in the barrow, but left the tomato plants, just out of curiosity to see if they do grow any fruit. There is one or two pansies struggling to survive in there too.

This Hibiscus was one of a few new plants we bought a month ago, and I am delighted to see it flowering so soon!

One of my friends has been urging me to try a collage project, so last week when I was a bit out of sorts and not in the mood for needlecraft, I decided to have a go. I used a scrapbooking page for the base sheet, cut out a few pictures from the Fox Collection craft catalogue, used two Japanese stamps, and the two little paper dolls I'd made a while ago. I'm quite pleased with this, and am already thinking about what I'll do next. It's nice to have a change from sewing, as paper craft isn't as hard on my aching hands as embroidery.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Not a good week.

Last Friday's post was optimistic. Too optimistic it would seem. Ken went downhill from then on. He had no energy, felt dizzy and light-headed whenever he stood up to walk, which meant he wouldn't go outside to walk around in case he passed out and fell. I called the hospital on both Friday and Saturday nights to ask what we should do, and both times I was advised to bring Ken into Emergency so they could assess him. The ward doctors I spoke to said it sounded like Ken was anaemic, and should have blood tests to confirm that. Ken didn't want to go back to hospital, so I faxed his cardiologist and cardiac surgeon on Sunday night, telling them that Ken was very unwell.

On Monday the surgeon's secretary called me and said I should take Ken to the hospital. But I waited until the cardiologist called me on Tuesday, and it turned out to be the right decision. He asked me a few questions about Ken, and then said "It sounds to me like he is doing pretty well, if he is getting out of bed every day, and eating three times a day. A lot of people who have that operation fall in a heap when they get home, and don't get out of bed for weeks. As for anaemia, it is quite common after heart surgery as there is often a large loss of blood during the operation. It will clear up in a few weeks. With his lung disease, he can expect to be short of breath for six to eight weeks, more so than other people who don't have the same health issues."

So, that made us feel a bit more confident, and as it was a nice sunny autumn day, I took Ken up to our favourite picnic spot, Sugarloaf Reservoir. Ken walked around a bit, but got tired very quickly so we just sat and enjoyed the sun and our lunch. I called the hospital again when we got back home, and spoke to the cardiac rehab. clinic. They made an appointment for Ken at 9 am Friday. I told them that Ken wouldn't be able to start the rehab. program yet, and the nurse said that didn't matter - just bring him in, and they will do a complete assessment of his condition. So that's where we were this morning, and it was a very worthwhile two hours. She agreed with everything the cardiologist had said to me, and suggested that Ken have blood tests to see if he was anaemic. We had an appointment with our GP at midday, and he organised the tests for Ken straight away. He said that if the results showed mild anaemia, he wouldn't prescribe anything, because the body would just sort itself out in the next few weeks. But if it was severe, Ken may have to have a blood transfusion, although he didn't think that was likely. We will get the results on Monday, and in the meantime, the nurse told Ken to take it easy over the weekend. As if he needed to be told! So even though he feels very second-hand, at least we know why, and something is being done about it.

His sister Lorraine dropped in tonight after work, bearing gifts to cheer us up. She is such a sweetie. She didn't know what to bring Ken because he doesn't read books, and all his hobbies are outdoors things, so she brought stuff for me! "Where's Elvis?" book (originally "Where's Wally?" - remember them?) just for a laugh; a Bill Bryson book which I started reading after tea and haven't stopped giggling; a cake of goats milk soap (because I need pampering), and a packet of biscuits. Ken had a look at "Where's Elvis?" but after 10 minutes gave up in disgust, and he didn't want a bikkie with his cuppa, so I guess all the goodies have my name on them!

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