Sunday, May 9, 2021

Mothers' day

I had breakfast with two mothers:  Jenny and Suzy. Jenny cooked it and served it on my verandah.  Also there were Kate and Joe.

Jenny made everyone scrambled eggs plus small pieces of tomato and avocado. It looked very nice. I decided to cook my own brekky in the form of savoury mince boosted up by a couple of flavour sachets. The boost really worked.  The mince was almost TOO tasty.

Anyway it was great to have Suzy there and we heard a lot about NZ generally and Invercargill in particular.  It's surprisingly expensive to live there. Russell's large new shed also got a mention.

Then that evening, Jenny, myself, Joe and Suzy had dinner together. They had a Thai chicken dish and I finished off my  mince. The mince was pretty brown by then so as I entered, I said, "My dinner looks like poo"! That cracked everyone up and lightened the mood generally

Saturday, May 8, 2021

A surprisingly good day

Yesterday (Friday) was a shocker. I was a zombie for most of the day, barely able to walk and to talk. It was probably because I had gone off the Tramadol. So I took some last night and woke up after a lot of sleep feeling relatively well. Once again being able to walk and talk.  I was even able to abandon my walking stick for most of the day.

The rebound in my form came on a good day. Saturday was, as usual, my morning with Anne.  Anne had cooked some savoury mince for our brekky and brought it over. So breakfast was fine and I kept it down, unlike last time.

After that we had our usual nice time of lying down together and listening to classical concerts.  We discussed her finances at some length. She has a small amount to invest.  My suggestion was that she buy shares in the banks

Anne left at 1pm.  My present to her that day was a can of Brasso, which she wanted for her oil lamp.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

An ersatz day

<i>Ersatz</i> is a German word meaning "replacement" and today (Tuesday) was a replacenent for what Anne and I would normally have done last Saturday.  Anne and her sister wanted to go to Currumbin for the weekend. So I was happy to replace that day.

It started badly. Jenny had made Anne and me some nice scrambled egg and bacon for brekky but I chucked mine up half way into it.

We shrugged that off however and went on to the next item on our normal simple agenda: Lying down and listening to music -- which went well, despite the bad start to the day

I skipped lunch and managed to keep my dinner down.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

A mixed day

The day started out rather unusually.  I slept most of it. A number of other factors caused both Jenny and me to suspect that I had a urinary tract infection.  I get those occasionally. So I got a lot of cranberry juice into me. Cranberry is very good at killing UTIs.

For dinner that night Jenny gave me savoury mince - cooked my way. It worked well.
I had an awful night after that, with nausea, constipation, stomach pains and vertigo making a very unpleasant combination.  I woke up in the morning feeling fairly well, however.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

David Isaac

I am not much into receiving visitors these days but I received from David, a Sydney anesthesiologist, a call saying that he was a keen follower of my writings and wanted to come up to Brisbane to meet me in person while that was still possible.  In the circumstances, I told him I would see him tonight.  Jenny kindly made us both a cup of tea.

It was an unusual meeting. He spent 95% of the time telling me about himself and the political writers he had been reading recently. They were all far-Right and I am guessing that he hoped I was one of them. I do make comments about race and IQ at times so it was an understandable mistake on his part.  My interest in those topics is largely academic, however. I have in print quite a lot of academic journal articles on those topics.

It is in fact amazing that mentioning the low average IQs of African-Americans does not get me "cancelled".  But I think that the clearly academic character of my writing saves me from that fate.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

An especially good Saturday

Saturday morning is my usual time to see Anne. And this Saturday, Anne drove herself over to my place. She has now served her period of penance due to her stroke.  I was not in much pain after my fall and was mainly bothered by my persistent vertigo.  Anne and I spent most of our time together lying down and listening to Bach, however, that was only a small problem. We still had a nice time.  Jenny made us  a good brekky.

But that afternoon Graham arrived unannounced and unexpectedly. He evidently wished to see me before I died and thank me for my life. With constant travel restrictions between Queensland and Victoria, that was wise.  Anyway, Joe joined us for a good chat on my verandah. The George Floyd matter was much discussed

Friday, April 23, 2021

Diary of a decline

Fri 16 April vertigo onset

Sat 17 April Morning with Anne.  George drives her here in our Prado at 7:20am, Jenny makes us breakfast. Despite vertigo, we have our usual nice time together. George collects Anne 1:30pm

Anne with Ganesha

Sun 18 April Bad fall in bathroom due to vertigo.  Hurt my Left side

Mon 19 April Saw Dr Gahlot to get Stemetil for vertigo. Abandoned dining out that night

Tue 20 April Lamplit dinner

Wed 21 April Saw Dr Gahlot about pain from fall. Now taking 200mg  Tramedol daily 

Thu 22 April Joe buys an electric goanna with my assistance

Fri 23 April Waiting for ailment progression. Mostly sleeping

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The end is nigh

My stomach cancer did NOT respond to the lutetim test so that hope of recovery is gone.

I did seem to be undergoing some sort of spontaneous recovery yesterday.  I  even had enough energy to put up my political blogs

This morning, however I have woken up with a disabling case of vertigo. It has  however improved a little over the day so far so I will just have to see how that goes.  But with the fail of the lutetium test I don't have long to go anyway.

Jenny and Joe are with me 24/7 so I am well looked after.  I will in any case die amid love and that may be the best anyone can ask

Monday, April 5, 2021

A good Easter

Despite living in the shadow of death from cancer, I still enjoyed my Easter.  The highlight was of course the Saturday morning I spent with Anne but subsequent events have been good too.

On Sunday morning Jenny organized a family brunch.  Present were Jenny, myself, Joe, Katie, Timmy and his wife Rachel.  Timmy is strictly not a relative but I helped bring him up and have always thought highly of him.  He is now a very pleasant young man.  His young wife Rachel is gorgeous and she has recently presented him with a baby boy -- Liam. Photo below. 

Much of the conversation centred about Timmy's planned trip to the UK.  He is optimistic that all the COVID restrictions will have eased by the time he gets there.  If a change in the regulations "traps" him there he is not concerned.  He has a British passport so can work there.  He is looking forward to seeing Paul and his other relatives

Jenny put on a Canadian breakfast with pancakes, good bacon and real Maple syrup

Then that afternoon Jenny came over to my place and we went out for dinner. We went to the "Bollywood" which is now called "Spice Avenue". It still has first class Indian food. We had Tandoori chicken, samosas etc. We were the only customers there so got good service

Then this morning (Monday) Joe came over for breakfast and we  went to our old brekky haunt -- the Yeronga pie shop.  I had an excellent lamb and Rosemary pie. We mostly talked about American politics, as usual.  The trial of Derek Chauvin was much discussed.  That he will get a fair trial seems very doubtful.

And tonight Jenny is making me -- at my request -- savoury mince on toast for dinner.  She does good savoury mince.   On Mondays we often go to Nandos but they close early today.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

A poignant occasion

This morning, Anne and I got together for our usual Saturday morning.  It was the first time that we met after my cancer diagnosis so it was a very sad occasion.  But I won't go into detail about that

We went to the Wynnum Coffee Club for our breakfast, with me having my usual flat grill and Anne having the vego big breakfast.  We parked close by and got good seats so it worked pretty well and we did have our usual jolly breakfast together

Afterwards we went back to her place and lay about listening to music as is our custom.  Despite the bad news the magic between us did still happen and it was a good morning overall.

When I gave Anne the necklace I had bought her recently, she put it on straight away and we got a photo of her with it on just as I was leaving

Friday, April 2, 2021

An interesting Easter Friday

Last Tuesday I had a CAT scan of my stomach that revealed a large number of enlarged lymph nodes around the stomach.  They were obviously cancerous and were clearly well advanced for there to be so many of them.  So my life expectancy was obviously sharply reduced, but by how much is as yet unknown.  I have been feeling very poorly and weak but my weight has come down to 94kg so that is a compensation of sorts. I was up to 120kg at one stage.  I am in only slight and intermittent  pain from it

I told everyone about the scan and partly in consequence of that Joe came over this morning to have breakfast with me.  He wanted to spend time with his father while he can.  Since most other places were closed for the Holy day, we went to Maccas. 

We had a very lengthy talk about the big interest we have in common: American politics.  Although we both know the same facts, there was a difference in our conclusions about the matter.  Joe takes a very long-term view of where American politics are going whereas my horizons are pretty well limited to the mid-terms.  It seems possible that the GOP may regain control of the House at that time, which would spike Biden pretty well. Joe thinks that the Democrat party will eventually implode and lose power as a result of that

Anyway it was a great chat that I much enjoyed so it helped lift my mood considerably.

Then at 3pm my kindly brother came over at my request bringing with him my late mother's collection of family photos.  I thought that some might seem worth putting online.  I enjoyed seeing many of them and I have picked out three that seemed of particular interest.  

The first is of my sister "Jack" (Jacqueline) when she was a kid.  It is a good photo of her and is one of the few remaining traces of her life.  She was born 14.9.1945, died of breast cancer in her '60s and had no children. She was in general a good and kind person and remained good friends with Gary Ward, her ex-husband, for the whole of her life. He was there at her deathbed.  So I am not the only one in the famiy who keeps good relationships with former partners.  My other two siblings are still with their original partners.

Next is a photo of my mother and father in their younger days sitting in a vintage car -- a Whippet maybe. It looks like it had a dicky seat so  would have been "sporty" in its day.

And the third family photo is one I find mildly hilarious.  My father was described as a "bit of a lair" in his youth -- i.e. he enjoyed dressing fashionably.  You see both him and my mother in the photo. What gets me is the hat.  It is a super formal one -- maybe a Homburg. He wore it convincingly.

And Jenny came over tonight to share dinner.  I had asked her to dig out what she could of photos taken in her younger days.  When I met her she was already a mother of three so showed some effects of that.  Since she still looked pretty good at that age, however, I guessed that she must have looked rather  gorgeous in her teens. No good photos of her teenage self have survived but the photo of her below when she as about 11 gives a very good hint of how good she would have looked a few years later. She was holding ducklings

And a photo of Jen when she was 15.  Not terribly clear but it will have to do

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A restoration

When you are emotionally close to someone, being apart for just a week can feel like a long time. Due to her stroke, Anne and I were recently apart for TWO weeks! We were due for our usual Saturday meeting one week ago but she was at that time feeling effects from the stroke and not up to any meeting.  But today was back to normal or nearly so.

She is walking very well with only a slight limp.  I drove out to her place this morning.  While she was in hospital I wanted to do the usual thing and take up flowers and chocolates to her -- but COVID restrictions at that time barred all visitors.  So I took roses and some Lindor chocolates to her this morning instead.  I liked the bright colour of the flowers and it would seem that Anne liked them too as she has just sent me a picture of them. It is a good memoir of our meeting

We went to "Taste the Aroma", a cafe at West Wynnum for our breakfast and it was very good.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

High-profile Qld eisteddfod’s sudden shut down

This is very sad.  The Brisbane Eisteddfod has been fading for some time.  But for many years it was an opportunity for country people to send their children to the "big smoke" where they could get their talents a wider audience

I well remember the excitement at my country school many years ago when it was announced that some kid was off to the eisteddfod.  The teacher and mother concerned were always as proud as punch and the kids were full of anticipation

There is still a Gold Coast eisteddfod:

News report:

The Queensland arts world has been left shocked by the announcement that one of the state’s premier Eisteddfods was folding due to a lack of support.

The long-running Brisbane Eisteddfod has announced it will fold after 129 years of performances.

The Eisteddfod, which every year provides young performers the chance to showcase their talents in music, dance and drama, has confirmed the closure due to a “loss of relevance”.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Health update for Anne

Anne has recovered remarkably well from her stroke.  She is walking on her own two feet despite her left leg now being a bit weak.

She is going to Pilates for a modified session today. 

So she and I have agreed to restore our regular meetings next Saturday.  I will drive out to her place and we will go to breakfast at somewhere out her way.

I am mightily pleased that even a stroke separated us for only one week

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Coping with stroke

Last Monday afternoon,  Anne had a stroke, fortunately a minor one

I was distraught when I heard of it but thought it through and ended up reasonably serene about it

Anne was gardening when her left leg gave way and she fell.  Fortunately George was nearby so got her promptly to medical attention.  That probably helped limit the damage.

It appears that only her leg is affected and she has already had substantial recovery.  She got out of hospital on Friday.

That did mean that our usual Saturday morning arrangements were ruled out.  We have been breakfasting together on Saturday mornings with very few exceptions for 15 years so that was sad for me.

Fortunately, Irene turned up at breakfast and we had a good chat.  After breakfast Jenny took me on an OpShop tour so that was interesting.  So my Saturday morning was not so bad after all

At one of the OpShops I bought Anne yet another necklace.  She does wear black a bit so it should go with something

Update: Anne liked the necklace. "It will get plenty of wear", she said

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A lamplit dinner

 Given the cooler weather, we decided to eat at our indoor dining area. Some of my oil lamps are set up there so I decided to light them. With all the electric lights out, they were a bit inadequate by themselves so I lit the candles too. That gave us a perfectly adequate light to have our dinners by. So the photo below is not bad, considering the rather low light level that it was taken by.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Some congenial new arrangements

Jenny and I have set up a new routine for Sunday and Monday. She spends most of Sunday afternoon at my place, culminating in my taking her to dinner on Sunday evening. She stays overnight then on Monday morning we go on an outing and catch brunch at some time during the outing. It's an arrangement that seems to suit both of us well.

Last Sunday night we were going to the Burmese at Stone's Corner but they were temporarily closed so we went to the Greeks next door -- the good old Kafe Meze. In keeping with my shrunken appetite these days all I ordered for myself was a particularly good entree, Taramasalata. It is served with pita bread so was plenty filling for me. Jenny had a prawn salad which she liked. It looked a good dinner.

Then on Monday, we had a particularly varied morning. We went out to Anne's place and had a look at some oil lamps George had for sale. I bought two very nice big ones.

We then went for a drive in the Prado, which is kept at Anne's place. It was my first trip in it. Jenny drove as she is used to modern cars whereas I am not. Cars have what is for me a bewildering range of gadgets these days. For 60 years I have driven cars that have no instruments other than a speedo and a fuel gauge but the modern world is hugely more complex than that.

The Prado was smooth and comfortable as you would expect from one of Toyota's best-selling cars. It was far too chatty for me though. It seemed to be talking to us every five minutes, which was disruptive of conversation. Jenny's car talks to her too but not as much. I was a bit surprised that I could hear the Prado's motor ticking over but I eventually realized that it was because the Prado is a diesel.

We had a picnic lunch at our usual spot at North Wynnum. Jenny had bought me an egg and lettuce sandwich from the Fiveways bakery which was very good. Jenny had some gluten-free stuff.

We then visited the Wynnum disposal shop and a couple of OpShops. We both got a few things that we liked

At the disposal shop I bought another lamp to match one I already have. So on the sideboard in my bedroom I now have a matching pair of them.

I also bought a rather strange pocket knife at the disposal shop. No idea what I will do with it.

At one of the OpShops Jenny found some CDs that she had been looking for. We got home about midday.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Jewellery finds

When I see a piece of jewellery that I think would look good on Anne I buy it for her. And I seem to be tuned in enough to her taste to buy things for her that she will like.

The first below is a very fancy necklace that I bought her a couple of weeks ago and the second is a bracelet that I have just bought and which she has not yet seen

UPDATE: Anne says the bracelet "Looks very classy", so my feeling for her taste is still working

Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Jenny and I are both dedicated opshoppers. I believe OpShops are called "Thrifts" in the USA while in Britain they are simply called charity shops.

Anyway, Brisbane has lots of them and Jenny knows most of them. I know only the ones local to me. Neither Jenny nor I go there to make important purchases. We just like seeing odd and unusual things and may buy something we really like it. The beauty of such shops is that their stock is always changing so they are forever new. It's a great mistake to see something there and think you will pick it up tomorrow. By tomorrow it may well be gone.

Anyway, Jenny took me out to see some of her favourite destinations recently and I made some local forays by myself. And we did pick up a few small items.

The most surprising was a miniature pocket knife that I thought would make a good keyring. The most surprising thing about it was the price. It was one of their "free" items. I looked for trademarks etc on it but could find none. I did however find some very tiny writing on the knife blade. I had to get a 10x lens to read it but it simply said "China. stainless". I liked the fact that it included a small Philips head screwdriver.

A strangely satisfying buy was two teacups. For years I was a bit bothered that I had a set of saucers and side plates but no cups to go with them. The cups were presumably broken long ago. So I was surprised and pleased to find in one shop two cups of the same pattern. So I suddenly had a new teaset. I have lots of teasets but I do like this one

And I also had one quality buy: A set of heavy crystal wine glasses from France. I have very little crystal so I was pleased to catch up a little.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An interesting day

Jenny drove us down to Wynnum for a picnic brunch by the sea.  The tide was in and we sat in a shelter right beside the sea so it worked well. Jenny made a frittata for our picnic food, which was good

After that we made a trip to the Wynnum disposals shop.  My old hurricane lamp had corroded to the point of unusability so I wanted a new one.  They did have a couple for me to choose from. The one I bought was brand new from China.  It was a touch smaller than the old ones.  

While I was there, I saw that they also had a kerosine table lamp.  I already have three such lamps so it was a welcome addition to my collection.

Then that night I received a scam email that surprised me.  The text of it was the usual guff  but two of the attached pictures took my attention.  One was of a black lady who struck me as rather attractive. 

Since I normally like Nordic looks in women that was a surprise.  I went to to find out who she was but tineye simply showed me that it was a picture that had been used in many scams.

The scammer also attached a picture of a very attractive bouquet.  I checked that on tineye too and got a report that it had previously been used on over 5,000 sites!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

A good weekend

Saturday morning was my usual morning with Anne. As usual we breakfasted with the Phams.

After breakfast we made our usual weekly pilgrimage to Vinnies. We did unusually well there. I bought Anne a necklace featuring very fancy glass beads and I bought three things for myself: A two tier cake stand that goes with some of my other crockery, some silver rings for serving dinner napkins and two drinking glasses of a rare heavy type that I like.

Then for Sunday lunch, I invited Jill and Lewis to the Phams. It was in celebration of Jill's birthday and the Phams have lots of good things on the menu. Anne and I had omelettes and Jill and Lewis both had the calamari with chips and salad. Jill and Anne talked a lot to one-another as they usually do and Lewis piped up a lot too. It was a very relaxed and congenial dinner and I was very glad to shout.

Jill was nicely dressed in a lacy white top and white slacks while Lewis was wearing one of his colourful festive shirts.

As is often the case these days, I did not have enough appetite to finish my meal but in breach of all motherly dicta, I nonetheless decided to have a dessert, I bought a peanut and chocolate slice from the display cabinet that I took home and halved it with Anne later on. It was so rich that half of it was plenty.

Before I left Buranda, I bought Anne a big bunch of flowers from Woolworths. They were in lieu of the flowers that I would like to have given her on Valentine's day. Anne of course celebrated the day with George. Apparently he did come to the party to some extent.

As I was handing the flowers to Anne, she said: "Life is good to us, isn't it, John?" I replied. "It is, sweetheart".

Anne had recently had some pesky surgery

And to cap off the day, I weighed myself this evening and am down to 100kg. I was 105 only about 6 weeks ago. So my dietary restrictions are working

At my request, Anne gave me a picture of the Prado with George driving