Treasures and memories

Treasures from another time

On the weekend I was helping my mum and dad and uncles and aunties sell things at my Grandparents garage sale.

My Grandpa died in February this year, at 98 years of age. My Grandma died six years before, at 92 years of age. The house they built and have lived in all their life is now in the process of being sold. Every item, big or small that had a special place in their house is now out in the garage or in a box for people to go through.

It is strange, to say the least. Watching people pour over my grandparents possesions. Some of the things I have actually never seen before, other items are ingrained into my memories. It is hard to watch. It is hard not to take everything home. I see the bowls we ate our breakfast cereal out of, the cutlery set that was pure 70’s and the clock from the lounge room wall, all are amongst the many things that have never changed from when I was a young child. All the little things have a memory that goes with them.

I wasn’t emotional, it was what had to happen. I had accepted that it was not their home any more. It was a house which is empty and clean. Until I sat in the toilet looking at the back of the toilet door. It took me back. It hasn’t changed for about 40 years. It has a calendar picture taped haphazardly taped to it. A picture of a rose that my Grandma obviously admired. At that moment I could almost believe that Grandma was out in the kitchen fussing at the sink, making me a glass of cordial or a cold milk milo. I felt like I was 10 years old, I could almost hear my Grandpa coming in the back door, the screen slamming as he calls out “I’m home”. Grandpa Harry is here all is well.

My Grandparents owned a pear orchard in the Adelaide Hills and their house was on the property, literally surrounded by pear trees. My family and I lived on the property. We lived in the original house, only 800 metres away from my Grandparents. After school I could walk from our house down the track which wandered along the side of the orchard to Grandmas. There Grandma would feed us biscuits, cordial and whatever fruit she had growing in her garden, fresh strawberries, plumbs, cherries and of course pears and apples. For me it was an idillic childhood. Freedom in a rural setting. Mum knew if I wasn’t at home or the packing shed I was at Grandma’s place.

As I drive up the winding roads through the hills to my Grandparents house and property there are giant green gum trees lining the roads. Every time I drive up there I feel like I am coming home, back to my childhood. I soak in the sights of the hilly green lush countryside with creeks full of blackberry bushes. My childhood home is always colder than the plains and I always forget to bring enough warm clothes when I come back. When I get there and get out of the car I am putting on extra jumpers, rugging myself up for a “normal” spring day in the hills. It is then that I remember that I never did like the cold that much. Fortunately it is the complete opposite of where I now live with my handsome farmer husband.

While we held the garage sale I stayed in my Grandparents house for the last time. I spent the two nights laying in the tiny single bed in the spare room (still the original bed head) remembering moments lost in time, the everyday things, more feelings than memories. Remembering all the little things they did for me that were forgotten over time. I know how fortunate we were to have our grandparents close and involved in our lives. As I looked at all of their belongings in the car shed I kept having connections to the many wonderful childhood memories. It was such a blessing that as a child I always felt safe and loved at my Grandparents and we never went hungry. Grandma always had chocolate in her pantry and cream biscuits in a biscuit tin, juice or cordial in the fridge and milo or strawberry quick. We were very spoilt. Even when my dad and his brothers dropped in to see their mum they would head straight into the pantry for a treat.

So, another era has passed. All we have now is memories to hold onto. Memories tucked into my heart. Memories of my kind, gentle, loving Grandma and of my Grandpa; larger than life and always busy in the orchard. They will always be there when I smell the crisp cold mornings and they go hand in hand with the sight of the giant gum trees, the creeks and the hills dotted with pear trees. I am so grateful.

Backs, they come, they go (out)

Thanks to the MindJournal for picture

So, I have been laid up for almost three weeks now with a “bulging disc” in my lower back. It is a frustrating thing for me as I like to think I am a fit active person who loves Yoga and Pilates, walking, my morning swims and bike rides with “handsome farmer husband” when he nags me enough and it isn’t windy or rainy (I have my rules). Like most people I know, having a sore back wasn’t ever going to happen to me. It was a shock when it did.

At its worst sitting was painful, I couldn’t stand for long and I struggled to sit down on the toilet without pain. I could not put pants on without help (thanks amazing child number four) and had to let my legs ‘drip dry’ after I got out of the shower. The worst thing was I could not drive my car. For me that is like cutting my legs off. Living on a farm, out of town is difficult enough but if you can’t get in your car and drive to the shop to get food, the mail and most importantly, a decent barista made coffee, it is like life itself has ended. Bottom line, I was relying on other people to help me with all manner of things; my children, my mum and dad, my friends and neighbours and my ‘handsome farmer husband’. I had to learn to ask for help and had accepted that I would not be able to do any normal day to day activities for an indefinite time. So this was all fine and dandy, for a while.

It had been about a week since the initial back pain had started and it was definitely getting better. I had seen a chiropractor who relieved some pressure. I was taking it easy, no bending or picking things up off the floor. No packing the dishwasher, loading the washing machine or unloading the washing machine. I was struggling to lie down comfortably, but once I got there I was OK. I had resigned myself to taking anti-inflammatorys and pain relief constantly and was resting as much as I could. One week to the initial day and I was feeling heaps better. I felt great as I got out of bed, gingerly, but much easier than the few days before. I felt so good that I had made a few plans for the day. Make some pies for lunch, maybe even do some washing, perhaps re-edit a blog I had started.

As I was standing at my sink I had an urge to sneeze, without even thinking of the consequences, I did. Oh dear. Oh dear. There were a lot more interesting words coming out of my mouth than that, but they cannot be printed here. I could not move. I was in so much pain I could barely breathe. I held onto the sink and broke out in a sweat, the pain was intense and I actually thought I might vomit right into my kitchen sink. So I breathed through the pain, or tried to. Looking back I now liken it to labour pains, but I knew darn well they weren’t going to end and I wasn’t going to get a reward, like a beautiful little baby.

So, I thought I would lie down on the floor, that will help settle it. Ah, Nup. Now instead of standing up in pain I was lying on my floor in pain. More pain, which would not go away. So just so that you can see my dilemma here, I was actually in my dressing gown and that was all. I was actually busting to go to the toilet but couldn’t move. Luckily two of my boys were in the house so I yelled out to them and asked them to help try and roll me over. In my pain affected brain I thought I would crawl to the toilet. Ah, Nup again, was I stupid or just optimistic? I am not sure. It hurt so much and it had started to spasm. I was panting through the pain, breathing similar to birthing my kids. It stopped me from passing out, lucky I remembered that, lucky I was already on the floor.

Long story short, the boys got my ‘handsome farmer husband’ who was fortunately close by in the shed and he then called the ambulance. Much to my embarrassment three ambulances turned up. (Another long story). Obviously they didn’t want to miss out on anything. I met some beautiful, caring, wonderful people, who gave me some major pain relief in the form of a ‘green whistle’ or two and some other stuff which I cannot remember, then they whisked me off to hospital. Before the ambulance people came I had to ask my ‘handsome farmer husband’ to help put my underwear on. It was bad enough I was going to the hospital in my dressing gown, I was not going anywhere without my knickers. It hurt but it was worth it.

So my morning sneeze set me back to even worse than the beginning back pain. I spent a few hours in hospital being monitored by nurses who tried to keep my pain level as low as they could. After a few hours a lovely young doctor looked me over, gave me a referral for a CT Scan a few more pain killers and and sent me home. Back to the couch, more rest, more anti-inflammatories and very strong pain relief. Lucky me, I got a walker. It helped me walk, albeit, slowly. I felt older and slower than my 98 year old grandpa but the walker was invaluable. For the first three days back at home I didn’t go anywhere without it.

Eventually my back has calmed down. I am walking without my walker. I have had my scan and I am heading off to see my doctor next week. It seems I have a bulging disc, which requires rest but also gentle movement that does not antagonise the issue. Fortunately for me (or unfortunately) still no bending or lifting allowed; eg, washing, dishwasher stacking, cleaning, sweeping, vacuuming etc, etc, etc. There is less pain when I am sitting and I am trying to help out by cooking. It has been a challenge. I have to ask for help just to get a plate out of the cupboard. Most of the time I feel useless. I am judging myself harshly. Who knows why this happened, but my sister always says there is a reason for everything.

I found many intetesting articles to read while looking for information on the internet. Videos on how to support my back while sleeping and and activities which will help strengthen my back without doing more damage. I also found many interesting articles to read. One was Spiritual Meanings behind Physical Aches by MindJournal. Their meaning is as follows; “lower back pain indicates that we have taken on more than we think we can handle’. And truth be know I may have thought that recently. I may have been overwhelmed with the things I wanted to get done and probably quietly wondering how I could manage everything even though I had managed quite easily in the past.

Also while totally incapacitated I came across this verse by Safire Rose. I will leave it here for you to read. It is called She Let Go.

And so that is what I am now trying to do. Let go of the self judgement that I have back pain and a health issue. Let go of what I think people think of me. Let go that the dishwasher is not loaded the way I do it. Let go of the sight of socks and shoes cluttering around the door way of our home. Let go that the bread is not back where it lives but just dumped on the bench. Let go of everything not being done my way which I like to do my way. I just had to let it all go and hope for the best. And you know what? I am still here and the world is still turning and I am grateful for my body and family and everything is OK. Not perfect but definitely OK.

Boarding School

Sport at boarding school

It has been a week since we have had our youngest son home from boarding school. He was home for school holidays. We get to hang out with him for two whole weeks. It is always nice to have him home as he likes everything I cook him and he enjoys doing things with us. I am sure this would be different for any other normal 15 year old boy who doesn’t go away to boarding school.

As they all did, while away at boarding school, when they come home they appreciated their family, their home cooked meals and their freedom on the farm. And from my experience over the years I am certain that when they get back to school they are happy to be there with their mates, doing things with them 24/7. Some holidays we go away and they love that but they also appreciate just being at home in their own bed.

We are lucky we are only three hours drive away from the city where they are schooled. We are also lucky to have the technology of mobile phones so we can keep in contact with our kids at any time we like. Unlike the old days when ‘handsome farmer husband,’ was away at school. Once a week, they had to line up to ring their parents from a big old black phone that was stuck on the wall and letters were the regular way of communication. If they were lucky they would see their parents through the school term, but more often than not it would be the end of term when their parents came to collect them that they finally saw them.

All of our children went to boarding school. It was something I thought was important, even though I never attended one myself. I had to argue my case strongly and would bring it up regularly when the kids were young. It was a much discussed subject while driving to the big city with my ‘handsome farmer husband’. Even though he went away for schooling himself, he wasnt sure about it being possible. Obviously cost was a big factor and we had to send four of them. We did have to make some sacrifices in the early days.

I know he knew well the benefits, because during his 4 years at boarding school he made long lasting friends from far and wide, his education improved along with his confidence and and back in those days he had lots of fun experiences. There are many stories he tells about his time there. Many will stay untold until all the children are actually finished school, just in case they want to follow his example.

With hindsight, my children are not exactly the same personalities as their father and so I should not have presumed they would all be fine like he was. I was so confident that it would be good for them all to learn some independence away from their mother, who by the way is a pushover and does way too much for them still.

It was a learning experience for all of us. Our eldest probably had it tougher, being the first cab off the rank, but the youngest was like a duck to water. Every child gained something important from their time away. They are all confident, independant people. We now have three who have finished their Year 12 successfully and since finishing boarding school none of them have looked back.

For two years we only had our youngest child at home. Three at boarding school and one at home. It was very peaceful and there were no arguments over who was doing what jobs around the house. We also had plenty of hot water and the grocery bill was very low.

Now we are back to three at home and one away and it is a very different story. With three big (sort of adult) children home it is interesting. We have a big house, but sometimes its not big enough. We have a big hot water service but sometimes, not big enough. We have a reasonable size fridge but not big enough and the list goes on.

Recently there have been many discussions about the length of peoples showers, why they are always in their rooms and who unpacked the dishwasher last, who cooked last, who fed the cats and the chooks, brought the wood over, who did or didn’t put the rubbish out, who didn’t flush the toilet or put the toilet seat down and the list goes on.

We are teaching them to cook so they can at least feed themselves once they leave the nest. It has been challenging but fun. Everyone cooks once a week. The meal gets a rating out of 10. It is rated on taste and appearance and we try some new recipes along the way. Cooking dinner also entails the clean up and tidy the kitchen and pack and put on the dishwasher as well. ‘Number one son’ is very clever as he tries to pick a Friday night to cook, this is very often the night he is out with his mates. Generally everyone has a go, without too much complaining.

I am grateful to have them home for as long as I can. It is lovely to see my boys walking back from the shed chatting to each other after a day at work or hearing my daughter laughing with her big brother while they are cleaning their teeth at night. Sometimes they even help each other cook. I will make the most of those little things, store them in my memory bank. Soon they will be out of our house, back out into the world, independant young adults. Then before we know it ‘number four’ will be home from boarding school. The countdown is on.

Washing – where does it all come from?

“Based on the amount of washing I do, I think there are people living in my house that I haven’t met yet”


A classic old washing line

Washing, where does it all come from?
On average I do about 3 loads of washing a day almost every day of the week. It consists of varying types of washing. It could be big full loads of dirty work clothes (I have a fantastic 10kg front loading washing machine) or a cold wash delicate cycle for my two or three good jumpers. Then there are the shearing clothes from ‘Number 2 son’, they are washed seperately. The white load, not often very big but still needs to be done. Not to mention all the sheets for four beds, towels for five people, bath mats, tea towels and cleaning cloths.

I don’t know about anyone else but my washing never seems to go away. I feel like I am in the movie, “Groundhog Day”. Different day same amount of washing and yes it can be a nightmare. I am the washer woman. It is easier for me that way. If there is a load of wet washing in the machine I know it is there, as I put it there. There are no surprises when I get to the machine in the morning. No stinky mouldy smelling clothes when the machine door gets open after two days. No baskets of half dry clothes sitting around the laundry that I didn’t know about. My problem isn’t putting the washing in the machine, it is getting the washing hung out, brought back in, folded and then actually put away. I love the washing part, that is the easy part.

So the reason I am going on about washing is because it is the middle of winter here for us in the South of Australia and that means short days, most of which are cold, overcast, rainy and sometimes (more recently) foggy. I feel like in winter it is harder to manage the washing. My clothes very rarely get outside on the legendary ‘Hills Hoist’ clothes line during winter. So all the clothes are inside on my two portable inside lines. I have an ancient wooden clothes drier which my mum gave me and a brand new, largest size you can get ‘Mrs Peggs’. Between them they do a good job. The wood fire is going flat out to try and get everything dry.

It has hit a peak for me and I have washing everywhere. Dirty washing on the laundry floor, some on the bench, a load of washing in the machine, a load of damp clothes in the basket ready to be hung, newly washed clothes drying on the inside line, some bigger things on the outside line (been there for 2 days now). Dried clothes in a pile on the cupboard, not folded. Folded clothes on the table ready to go away. The sock basket, full and hanging around, keeping the bath towels company, the said bath towels are draped everywhere, either drying or dried but not folded or put away and finally T-towels and other cloths on the coffee table. It looks like a bomb has gone off in my living room. And the most frustrating thing is that it looks like this 90 percent of the time during winter.

But, I am completely happy to be responsible for the chaos. Because if I was a keen, disciplined housewife I could have a dedicated folding day and make sure I spent that day actually folding and get the nice, dry, clean clothes into drawers and cupboards. Instead I normally choose to go and have a coffee with my neighbours and ‘best buddy girl friends’ or go out in the garden. Most times my ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ and the kids come and find me to ask me if I have seen a particular piece of clothing that they need and then they put it on. Just this morning, ‘Son number 1’ noticed that his Dad was not wearing socks. I was curious as to why my ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ was not wearing socks? They are in a very big bssket in a very convenient spot in the living room. They are so obvious you could trip over them (and I probably have). It seems to me that he presumes he has no socks just because they haven’t made it to his sock drawer yet. I am still promising myself to fold those pesky towels after dinner at night and if those pesky towels get taken off the pile to be used by someone without going into the cupboard well, all the better for me.

I also choose not to iron. Anything!!! I do have an iron and an ironing board and at one stage in my house wife career I used to enjoy ironing and watching a movie or something on the television but that has gone by the wayside at least 5 years ago. I do not iron. I fully believe that hanging neatly when wet and folding neatly when dry helps reduce creases. The fact that all the boys work on the farm where no one sees their creased shirts helps and they are all very casual farmer boys who most of the time don’t care about their creases.

A line-up for the machine

I have put a photo (or two) with this blog just so you can see how much washing I am dealing with. Although the photos do not look as bad as I think it is. I am very much snowed under with washing. I truly believe there is no shame in being un-organised at times. Who are the washing police anyway? Why is it we worry about what people think of us? Most times I think that it is far better to go out in the garden for a few hours or have coffee with a friend or play with your kids or write a blog, rather than to fold and put away the washing. It will still be there. And if you get surprise visitors (not your ‘best buddy girlfriends’, who don’t care what your house looks like), then you can always quickly shove it all in the spare room out of sight. Or own it. Be proud of it. Who cares. This is how I roll.

My living room laundry

One day in the future I may actually post a picture of me being an organised, tidy, amazing farmers house wife, but don’t hold your breath. Even though it doesn’t seem to last that long I actually do love the satisfaction of getting all the washing up to date, washed, dried, folded and put away.

I would love to hear about how you manage your washing day blues.

I think I have spent enough time in avoidance. Now I am going to face up to the washing.

Have a great day

Anne x