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Thursday, 1 September 2011

An August not to remember, but never to forget

On the morning of Sunday 7th August, hubby got a call from his sister in Darwin.  The other sister who lives there had been involved in a car accident.  Their car was hit by a fire truck.  She & her husband were in a critical condition & one other man was killed instantly.  Another walked away physically unharmed.

It was one of those surreal moments no one ever wants to encounter.  The shock, the denial, the worry.  An hour or so later, the second call came.  SIL had not made it.  It was the 13th birthday of their eldest son that day & they have another who turned 11 only a few weeks before.  We prayed that they would still have a father to care for them, however over the next couple of days, it became apparent he was losing the battle.   Hubby wanted to go to Darwin ASAP to say goodbye   Four days after the accident, the machines were switched off & our BIL also died.  Oh, those poor boys!

Jasmine & I got to Darwin a couple of days later, after organising someone to look after our pets & making all the necessary arrangements.  Days & nights were filled with phone calls, text messages, emails & car journeys as we made all the necessary arrangements.  Hubby is a co-executor of both wills, so there was extra pressure on top of the grief he was feeling.  I really felt for Jasmine, being caught up in this whirlwind of emotion and activity and being dragged all over the shop.  It was 2C when we left Hobart & 32C in Darwin, and Jasmine was pretty well overwhelmed by the tropical climate. There were a couple of days I just had to stay at the motel with her so she could chill out & have a bit of down-time.

BIL & SIL were both architects & had their own architectural company.  Darwin's a small place & they were astoundingly well known, having designed not only private homes, but also many public buildings & recreational areas.  We visited some of their buildings & got to really appreciate the depth of their talent that saw them win 6 architectural awards only a few weeks before the accident.   We'd talk to people in shops or at the markets & they'd start to cry because they had known one or both of them.  That sense of community there was awesome!

The funeral was on 15th of August - hubby's birthday.  I feel sad for both him & our nephew that their birthdays will now forever be linked to those memories.  The service was long and Jasmine did so well to sit through it.  She did have a meltdown afterwards - a combination of no breakfast & sensory overload.  I was on my way to get some food for her when she lost it.  She was fine once she'd eaten something, but still preferred to sit away from the main crowd of people.

That evening, there was a get together for family & colleagues at the Darwin Entertainment Centre - one of the buildings they had refurbished.  There was a poster up for a show that was playing - "My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch" based on the book by Graeme Base.  Jasmine & her Dad talked to a couple of the staff there & ended up buying tickets for the show.  It was really enjoyable family entertainment & a nice distraction from the rest of the day.  We then went across the road to a Chinese restaurant & had a lovely dinner with just the three of us.  It was much-needed & I wanted to make sure hubby got to celebrate his birthday in spite of everything else.

We stayed on for a couple of days with plans just to have a bit of R&R time, but there were still lots of things to take care of.  Jasmine & I came home on the Thursday as planned, albeit 7 hours late due to flight delays.  As we were stuck in Melbourne for 6 of those hours, rather than be bored senseless at the airport, we caught a bus it into the city.  We grabbed a visitors guide once we got there & debated whether to re-visit the Museum that we'd been to 2 years ago & she'd always wanted to go back to, or whether to go to the Melbourne Aquarium.  The Aquarium won...and she loved it.  I was just kicking myself that I hadn't brought my camera with me, figuring hubby had his.  There would have been some great shots.  Her favourite part was being allowed to lift a sea star out of a small display box & place it back in the main tank.

After we'd finished there, we headed to the Crown entertainment complex to find what was called a circus, but was in fact, a games arcade (AKA casino 'lite').  We had a game of air hockey (yeahhhhh!!!), had a look around & decided it wasn't really what we'd expected.  The next trick was to figure out where we were to walk back to the bus station.  After a false start, we found our way back & hopped on the bus back to the airport.  Jetstar had given us each a $10 voucher, so we got some dinner then headed to the gate to wait to board our plane.  Having been awake since 4am after only 3 hours sleep, we finally got home just before midnight.  Oh, how nice it was!

On the Saturday, Jasmine had her 'end of year' dance concert.  Normally held in November, it was brought forward this year as the teacher is moving away.  She really enjoyed performing & did well.  Thankfully, there was enough time between the Dog Dance for Contemporary and her Ballet performance to change costumes.  We're going to miss her teacher, but the new teacher comes highly recommended & a couple of my friends who know her tell me she's absolutely lovely.

I was a shame hubby couldn't be there for the concert, but we have videos & there'll be plenty more concerts to come, I'm sure!  He was due to fly back on the Thursday after us, but took a detour to Sydney to see his Dad.  We'd received a phone call at 12.30am on the morning of the funeral from the nursing home to say FIL had been coughing up blood & he was heading off to the hospital.  After a few days of a fever & pneumonia, he had improved enough to be discharged back to the nursing home.  A couple of days later, he relapsed & was back in hospital.  They were talking morphine to keep him comfortable until the end.  So after more wrangling with airlines, we got hubby to Sydney for a few days, where his Dad cashed in another of his nine lives & was sent back to the nursing home once more.  His end is drawing ever closer, but thankfully, we will have a bit more time to mourn the passing of two family members before losing another.  As it is, I don't think our eldest cat (just turned 17) has long to go before her body is overwhelmed by cancer & we'll be burying her in the garden next to Crusty.

So yes, it's been one Hell of a month.  I'm just waiting for this cycle of deaths to end.  So many people have passed this year.  There has to be a turn-around soon.  There have been good moments in there, like getting to know my other SIL better & seeing people & places we wouldn't have otherwise, but I'm ready for the Universe to switch gears a bit.  It's hard trying to meet Jasmine's needs when the cup runneth low and I'm feeling guilty that she's not getting as much time from us or as many opportunities to learn & interact with people as she needs right now.  She's going through another growth spurt & there is definitely developmental progress happening, so this is an important time for her.

I will sign off with a photo of the last time we saw SIL & BIL.  They travelled to Tassie in December 2008 & spent a bit of time bushwalking around Cradle Mountain before staying at our place for a few days over Christmas.  Hubby had been here for a little while, but Jasmine & I had only moved into the house the day before they arrived here and we had MIL & FIL here, too - all bunked on the floor in Jasmine's empty single bedroom.  It was squishy....and challenging.... but we have some lovely memories of their time here.  They were devoted parents who loved sharing adventures with their kids.

Riposa in pace xxx

More July happenings

Jasmine & her Dad cracked out the marble run and had fun trying to work out which configurations of blocks would result in marbles reaching the end of the run.  

Different coloured blocks allow different paths, so if you get it wrong, it just won't work.   

We've also been in decluttering mode this Winter.  Although there's still lots to do, we did manage to get rid of a lot of stuff we no longer need & I've listed heaps on Facebook.  We've got extra storage units & shelves installed, and we rediscovered the floor in Jasmine's room.  We also removed 'The Fairies' wall mural at her request ("too baby'ish") and replaced it with a selection of her artwork from the last 3-4 years.  

I was trying to work out what the strange cracking noise was from across the road one day.   There are two large old pine trees.... which were filled with a flock of black cockatoos having a feed on the pine cones.  Jasmine got with in a few metres & was in awe :)

And of course, endless conversations about the human body, geology, gardening, bill paying, recipe planning & all manner of things.

And the winner of Junior Masterchef 2018 is.....

Chicken & vegetable stack on Mountain Bread rounds (a snack at 2am)

Sesame & Sweet Chilli Chicken Salad

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with two dipping sauces
and Jaffa Muffins (no recipe used)

The muffins get the 'official' thumbs up :)

Spring has sprung!!!

And I've just realised how much I've neglected this blog of late.  I always have good intentions, but life tends to get in the way and, ya'know, sometimes I actually have to sleep :-O

So hopping in my time machine to pick up where we left off....nearly 2 months ago.

The next thing I'd planned to tell you all about was the NAIDOC Week Aboriginal Art Workshop we attended at the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery.  As soon as I heard about it, I though it would be something Jasmine would love to do, but it was aimed at school groups.  Never fear!  Thanks to the power of Facebook & emails, I managed to round up enough kids to form a group & off we went.

It was a great day!  There were 23 kidlets participating, between the ages of 3 & 14, with parents/carers in tow.  Judith-Rose Thomas took the kids through some basic techniques that she uses in her landscape paintings before the children each got to have a turn creating their own masterpiece.  Here's some of them drying ------>

Jasmine's is on the far right, second from the bottom.  Judith-Rose was really impressed with her work :)

More importantly, Jasmine loved learning a new skill!

Len Maynard then spoke to the group about his clay sculptures and the use of symbols in Indigenous art.  He told them there were many symbols used, but no one today knows the true meaning of these symbols.  They look quite like Egyptian hieroglyphs - almost "other worldly" even - and there are large pyramids on the Eastern Shore of Hobart (which we have yet to visit).  The mind boggles what the actual link is  ;)

Using the same colour wash technique they learned in the landscape paintings, the kids then painted bookmarks which were pre-coated with a texture medium which then had copies of the hieroglyphs scratched in.  Once the bookmarks were dry, they added a piece of string with a bead on the end and it was time to go home.  Here are the two pieces that Jasmine created:

As if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, we just happened to be experiencing one of the coldest Winters in a few decades, so we just HAD to pull over & stop in the snow on the way home!

Jasmine declared it to be the "best day of (my) ENTIRE LIFE!!!!!!!"  Ahhhh, to be 6 again   :)