I think this is just brilliant.

As was Chrissie

As are all these great women

Cancer sucks. So check your breasts. Have a pap smear regularly. Don’t smoke.


At a loss


Today marks the day my oldest sister Alison died from breast cancer…18 years ago. 18 years is a lifetime. Isabel’s lifetime. Jack’s lifetime. It does seem so long ago now…she would be 58 this year. I can still recall the final days so clearly. I can still recall other shared times so very clearly.

I have written before about autumn, and how the very season is just so right when mourning the passing of two siblings, for yes indeed, it will be three years in May since Jeremy died. Shorter days, longer nights, a certain wistfulness in the weather as the trees, plants and animals get ready for winter. Autumn just does seem to be the most appropriate time to remember & mourn.

So tonight I will light a candle, several candles and remember Alison.

And news this week that has bought Carl and I to an interesting, uncertain, scary place as Carl’s workplace announced that the national communications team would be reduced from 111 to 48 people. No jobs at Carl’s level, and indeed if he is lucky perhaps a job at a level down….unbelievable madness. And this despite the fact that Carl’s area has already had a freeze on recruitment for several years now & have reduced staff. And this despite the fact that they have so much work, so much demand for design, reports, photography and video that they cannot actually do all the work and have had to knock work back & outsource it. Absolute madness. No voluntary redundancies as such, although you can be put down a ‘list’, no compulsion to work with the team and work out a structure that can work…and this is even before the government put their own restrictions on!!

So very uncertain times ahead. That may impact on future plans including our travel plans for later this year. It may just not be the right time for Carl to take 4 months off, so we may shorten this trip.

Just don’t know right now.

In a twilight zone.

So, at a loss in so many ways right now. I still battle with the right words to say when writing about death. They have passed. Indeed, but I haven’t *lost* them.

My aim is to support Carl in every way that I can and that he needs.

We shall get through. We have before and we will again.



Plans. Plans.

Been a busy-ish start to the year so far.

For the first time ever (I think!) I worked all through January, without taking off the traditional week or so to go group camping. This was for a couple of reasons…I was acting in another job for six weeks over the Christmas/New Year/January time and gave a commitment not to take leave. So it was just the university down time over Christmas- which let’s face it is a good break just in itself. I also decided not to take leave so that I would bank up my leave to take later in the year….

Well the acting job was a lot of fun.  For the first time in years I was back again managing a team of people, and I have to say that I enjoyed it. Lots of communication, lots of planning, just talking things through helped a lot. I felt that the six weeks went quite well and I had some lovely comments and feedback from the staff when I finished.

Carl and I also managed to get to group camping for the three day Australia Day long weekend and that also was wonderful. It was so nice being able to instantly unwind and be with such a wonderful group of friends. The weather was great. Only missing in the three days was some waves to catch but the ocean was just beautiful if a little flat! Carl took hundreds of photos - which he edited down to a couple of hundred! And I finally got to meet Arkie…Laura’s grandchild and a lovely boy!

Then it was to VALA2014  and Melbourne for a week which was great as well [still digesting it all to be honest!, but I have to give a short presentation next month so there will be more on this].

But in among all of this, and there is a lot happening, Carl and I are really getting down to planning our long trip that we will do from September this year…

Yep –  our flights are booked and paid for.

We leave Sydney 1 September, a couple of nights in Hong Kong, and then Istanbul > Warsaw > Berlin > London > Spain > Morocco > New York > West coast of US and then we fly out of Vancouver on 17 December, arriving back in Sydney on Friday 19 December, just in time for Christmas. So that’s just the short version. Lots more detail to fill in of course. Sixteen weeks away.

So loads of reading and planning and booking and talking, and it is just so exciting!!!

Sometimes I get worried that I am focusing too much on September and all that brings, but there is lots to look forward to before we even get on the plane.

  • Isabel starts uni this week – Bachelor in Creative Writing – and it’s so lovely to see her so incredibly excited about it all
  • Jack starts third year uni, and he is off to Brazil for a month in June for the World Cup
  • a week away at the coast in Narooma in March
  • some long weekends in Broulee and Huskisson
  • a family weekend away to celebrate mum and dad’s 60th wedding anniversary in July

So such a great year ahead, and it’s already been a great 2014….

so, my question is…when overseas, there will be a hashtag # for that, but what will it be?

#KatenCarlsexcellentadventure um, too long

#os2014 um, too short, not descriptive enough

will work on it!!


Early one morning in the tent at Booderee. No glasses, just smiles.

Early one morning in the tent at Booderee.
No glasses, just smiles.

Lone duck


I have a lovely set of flying ducks and love them.
But coming back from Broulee the other day I bought a lone duck. There are probably orphan ducks all over the place. Just waiting :)


It’s New Year’s Eve, and we are off later to a party, curries, bubbles and dancing. So a quick post while I relax.

Can’t begin really to recount the year – I need to look through posts and images and reflect on 2013 some more.

But in the meantime, ta da…a list…and a book list- this from Book Riot – Go from zero to well-read in 100 books - and a list that I didn’t see when originally posted in June this year.

This list attempts to define ‘well read” – “…‘Well-read’ for this person then has a number of connotations: a familiarity with the monuments of Western literature, an at least passing interest in the high-points of world literature, a willingness to experience a breadth of genres, a special interest in the work of one’s immediate culture, a desire to share in the same reading experiences of many other readers, and an emphasis on the writing of the current day”.


The list, in alphabetical order: with a big yes at the end of those I have read, and some comments on some of the others…

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, do I confess to never having read MT? Never read.
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, yeswell some of them
  3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, I do have this
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque, great movie, reckon I probably should
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay  by Michael Chabon
  6. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy yes, great book!
  8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand well sort of yes, in my youth
  10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath yes
  11. Beloved by Toni Morrison should have, read at book group but away/absent…
  12. Beowulf
  13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak yes, another great book and looking forward to the movie
  14. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley yes
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz another book group one, but I didn’t finish…
  16. Call of the Wild  by Jack London yes
  17. Candide by Voltaire yes
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer yes, some at uni years ago and really enjoyed
  19. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, no but Carl has all Ian Fleming titles so probably should sometime
  20. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, another bookgroup one I didn’t get to..again, was I away for this?
  21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger yes!
  22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White yes
  23. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  24. The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
  25. The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  26. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor 
  27. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – I do own and have yet tor ead
  28. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky yes
  29. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown yes
  30. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller yes
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  33. Dune by Frank Herbert
  34. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer yes, love JSF
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury have I, if not, I should, we have copies of this
  36. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  37. Faust by Goethe
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley yes
  39. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin, no, but have seen the series…
  40. The Golden Bowl by Henry James, no, but have read other HJ
  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, again, not this one, but am reading Doris Lessing now!
  42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  43. The Gospels, yes- not cover to cover nor chapter to chapter…
  44. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck yes, loved
  45. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, yes
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, yes loved
  47. Hamlet by William Shakespeare, yes
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, yes
  49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, yes
  50. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  51. The Help by Kathryn Stockett, yes
  52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  53. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, yes
  54. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  56. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  58. The Iliad by Homer
  59. Inferno by Dante
  60. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  61. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, I should read, the snippets of WW I have read are just lovely
  63. Life of Pi by Yann Martel, yes
  64. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, yes
  65. The Little Prince by Antoine  de Saint-Exepury, put off by this, as an ex manager loved this! Not the best of reasons I know but I didn’t like their management style…
  66. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, yes
  67. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  69. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, I won a copy, and yet to read
  70. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  71. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, not this particular VW
  72. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, yes
  73. The Odyssey by Homer
  74. Oedipus the King by Sophocles
  75. On the Road by Jack Kerouac, ye!
  76. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, yes!
  77. The Pentateuch
  78. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, yes!
  79. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  80. The Road by Cormac McCarthy, yes!
  81. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, yes
  82. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, no WF…
  85. The Stand by Stephen King
  86. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, yes
  87. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  88. Their Eyes Were Watching by Zora Neale Hurston
  89. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, yes!!
  92. Ulysses by James Joyce
  93. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, yes
  94. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  96. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  98. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, yes!
  99. 1984 by George Orwell, and yes
  100. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Not going to count these up, but an interesting, US centric list.

Lists…they are never going away.

And are huge at this time of the year!

Happy new Year to each and every one of you xx

Peace and love and big, big hugs xx

Christmas this year was always going to be a little strange. No Jack who is still in Nepal. A slight sense of relief that the mad week of Isabel turning 18 is all over (it all went so well …), and the relief that comes with the end of a pretty busy work year. Working right up to 3pm Christmas Eve meant hardly any time for prep in a way….so how did it all go??

Christmas Eve was joy…a gin and tonic, last minute wrapping and home made pizza.

Christmas Day started at around 8.30 with Carl, Iz and me in our big bed drinking tea and unwrapping gifts. I ended up staying in bed, grabbed some fresh fruit salad, more tea, my ipad and some knitting, and there I stayed until after 11…just bliss. I then got up and did some leisurely cooking – making a puy lentil salad, a Turkish green bean salad and some gingerbread made with fresh ginger and molasses! We had a late lunch of ham and salads with Iz and Philip, and then Carl and I took the dogs out on Mt Ainslie for a walk. After that we drove over to see Carl’s mum. Margaret had decided to stay put at her home all day because she is having such dreadful problems with fatigue and nausea as she changes rheumatoid arthritis medication. It is hard seeing her so wane and tired. We stayed for a while and Glenn and Claire also came over, so that was all good, if not a little poignant. Hard seeing someone who has always had such energy, just seem so still and pale…

We got home about 8pm and had a kilo of the meatiest Crystal Bay prawns – nothing with them, just sat down, shelled and ate prawns and drank beer. There was some silliness with a fake mustache that was in a Christmas cracker (we didn’t even buy crackers, but had two crackers leftover from Rhonda). And it was silly and relaxing and kind of nice, just being with Iz and Carl. Iz is jokingly referred to as the spoilt, indulged only child while Jack is overseas. But a different Christmas day to those past…

Today – Boxing Day was our day trip to Bowral for lunch of Christmas leftovers with mum and dad and Sarah, Chas and Alex. I took the dogs for a walk up the mountain – did the maze walk – and was again relieved that the maze was intact. The slope was just full of yellow daisies. We set off late morning to Bowral with salads, gingerbread and a bag of presents. When we got to Bowral we walked in, dad was sitting watching the cricket – which he turned off, and mum wasn’t immediately around. I have never seen mum so angry – she walked past saying – “I’ve been in pain 24/7 for years”, “no-one cares”, “I’ve been in pain for 30 years” (a reference to a bad ankle break that has resulted in a couple of operations to pin, and then plate the ankle, and now recurrent swelling, pain and arthritis.). She was trying to do a whole lot of things at once and crying and being angry and upset and I could hardly believe it. She went off into her bedroom and after a little while (I left her as she asked) – I went in and had a big chat to her….She is both depressed and tired – trying to do everything which includes doing things that dad normally does around the house. We had always planned that the day would be quite relaxing, with us all just bringing leftovers and sharing a meal. I think the last straw as she explained it was when she tried to fill the pepper grinder and her shaking hands meant that she spilled peppercorns all over the kitchen….The everyday is so freaking hard when you are shaking with every move.

Sarah, Chas and Alex arrived soon after and I quickly explained  what was going on. Sarah also had a good talk with mum, stressing that we need to remember the good times. But it’s hard. Sometimes it just seems like platitudes which of course it’s not, but I mean what do you say to someone who has seen two of her children die?

So after a shaky start, we had a bottle of Verve Cliquot with presents and then had lunch. All OK in the end but still, we are home now and I am just feeling so powerless in a way, what to do? Mum is clearly depressed, not handling things – for example although she says she is doing everything, she brings up reasons and excuses why she can’t get a cleaner. At one stage I actually thought- is she jealous that dad is getting all the attention (health wise??), But it’s not just one thing, it’s a combination of many things…I remember when Jem was ill that he found her negativity to be an issue. She is quick to find fault or to be negative. That has worsened with age, more a glass half empty view on life…But she has a heart of gold, still visits more elderly people, is actively involved in church (although can’t attend as an elder due to her tremour – which is worsening…), and would do anything for anyone really…And Jem also explained it to me that she is probably suffering from mild dementia…just age. In some ways she is a mass of love and contradictions, and a weary & sore body, grief and depression. Is it a fear of losing control? Being scared about things changing?

[A recap on dad...because of course I should look back over old posts and see what I have already explained, but...About a month ago dad had some dreadful pain in his left hip. It was first diagnosed as osteo arthritis, and he started on a course of physio and exercises but was using a walking frame to get around- which was very strange to see. Dad has always walked, often just goes out for a walk – so seeing him using a walker was quite confronting in a way. Anyway after a couple of weeks he had a bone scan that showed that it may be a stress fracture and he was told to immediately stop the exercises! He had an MRI about 10 days ago, and was rushed into hospital and operated on that evening- they have pinned his femur near the top of the hip. He was up and walking the next day and I spent last weekend with them, and Sarah went up just after the operation. All good- the bones will take 8 weeks to knit properly and he will take 6 months all up to hopefully walk again properly and not use the walker. We just have to see. He is 84 and his bone density is not good after all the radiotherapy when he had prostate cancer (which all looks good by the way). But he only got out of hospital on the Monday afternoon before Christmas, so just wanted a few quiet days at home...hence the Boxing Day plans]

I have spoken to mum since we got home. Sarah are I have texted each other…but what to do?

Ageing is messy. Families are messy. Life is messy.

Was always going to be a hectic week…..having rushed out of work early to get home to take Iz and Philip to “prees” – that’s pre formal drinks if you didn’t know. A couple of hours at Anne’s house with a bunch of nervous year 12s looking glamorous and gorgeous…then off to old Parliament house for “arrivals” and photos.
Return home many hours later, check phone to missed calls galore….dad has had his MRI today and was rushed to hospital to have immediate surgery, either tonight or tomorrow – to ‘plate’ the femur. Calls to mum (out at hospital) and she doesn’t have or do mobile….calls to Sarah who is going up to Bowral tomoz, calls to Max to let him know……then collapse onto the couch with a gin and tonic. Evening is cooling down. All will be OK.
Flexible. Strong. Resilient. Like that better than my first title for this post which was. – crap, shit, manic….
That’s the aim.



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