Gathering the straws of life together

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Making money

Making money

Most of us are out and about making money. If we are not working or unable to work then we need to work out how we can make the most of the money we have. It is easy enough to spend money. It is wise […]

Make your dreams happen

Make your dreams happen

How do we make our dreams happen? Is there a formula if we follow the rules? Will this cause us to find success in life? My last post was titled “rules rule” and it was about rules and what rules do we keep and what […]

Rules rule

Rules rule

Why do we have to have rules? We have rules to guide and shape our beliefs and behaviour. As a rule, rules come from laws, but some rules standalone, such as the ones we make for ourselves or our household.

The “rule of law” is a concept that the government and citizens know the law and follow it. Laws and rules establish standards, they protect people, they enforce rights and resolve conflicts. Without rules, we would have anarchy in society. Yet again, are there some rules that can be broken? Is it okay to break rules? I believe it is okay to break rules, if you make them yourself, for yourself. But what about rules that other people make and expect you to follow? Are some rules unnecessary? In fact, rules can cause people to disobey the very rules that were meant to make them behave in a certain way. Think about it for a minute.

In the 1800s in many states in the USA there were laws that prevented African-Americans (then called Blacks) from learning to read or write. This ruling was because of fears that, if educated, the slave system would be undermined. Such laws were punitive and unjust, yet citizens were expected to follow the rule of law. Those that thought these rules were wrong and educated “slaves” were severely punished, if found out! Rules such as preventing people from an education is not right. But back then, people thought it was right. We now look back in history and know that such treatment was wrong, it was discriminatory.

Subservience or denying people equal rights and equal opportunities is prejudicial. As it happens, there were social reformers, known as abolitionists, who recognised the injustices of the slave system and protested it. Eventually, after an Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on 1st January 1831, slavery was official abolished in the USA by the Thirteenth Amendment, which took effect of 18th December 1865.

Why am I writing about rules? Because when we went away recently for a mid-week break (a retiree’s weekend) the cottage we stayed at had rules. The hosts (female & male) walked through the cottage with us on our arrival. The woman pointed out the rules “what we should do” and “what we shouldn’t do”. It was overwhelming and we had not encountered anything like it before. We have travelled the world several times and stayed in hotels, motels, apartments, cabins, houses and cottages. Never have our hosts felt they needed to point out the rules, so poignantly. Usually, when you book into a hotel or self-contained apartment you will find your way around. There is usually information that will guide your stay, such as how to use a television or DVD player. Perhaps also a request about respecting the property, cleaning any dishes, emptying rubbish and paying for any damages.

We just arrived in time to enjoy the wood-fire. Once when away in December for a one-night getaway we lit the fire! I am pleased they did not have a time-frame restriction. It was a cool night and created a wonderful ambience.
A fireplace rules!

The focus on rules at our cottage stay was so formidable it took us almost 24 hours to recover! There were signs in different places telling us how to behave. I understand the need for a “few” rules as people are different and not everyone cares for another’s property the way they should. But when it is someone else’s property, even if paying for its use for a short while, we are careful and respect our hosts wishes. This is when you worry about spilling a glass of red wine on a beige rug! Too many rules can cause anxiety and when you are apprehensive the thing you did not want to happen, can happen! Fortunately for us on this occasion we had no mishaps!

One thing I found unusual, given that the cottage and the property relied on rainwater tanks, there were no rules about water conservation. That is one rule I would have expected. While most people today are conscious of being water wise, some still need a reminder. Therefore, I would have welcomed a rule about water conservation. Following are more signs we were greeted with!

We always enjoy cooking on our BBQ. When we go away on holidays this is something we like to do. The rules for using the BBQ at the Cottage were that we had to leave it in the very exact state it was. This was not only cleaning the BBQ plates, but the space below. Not put off, we decided to use the BBQ to cook our eye fillets for dinner the first evening and bacon and egg breakfast the following morning. What we did not understand is that the BBQ, an older model, got very messy under the grill. Oh my, oh my….my O&O (One & Only) started cleaning the BBQ after our relaxing breakfast and then I took over to finish the cleaning chore. And a chore it was! It took several hours between the both of us to clean!

We worked for several hours to clean the BBQ as we had to clean it properly, being an extra special item!

I wanted to suggest to our hosts that they upgrade their BBQ, maybe a Weber Q, one that is easier to clean or at least leave some BBQ wipes to make cleaning easier. My O&O preferred not to say anything, just to leave “sleeping dogs lie”. I agreed and we went away without giving any feedback.

Rules rule, but the “cottage rules” did not rule us for long. We left after a couple of days and emphasised the positive: the views, the reading material, the comfortable bed and the wood fire (enjoyed with our wood allocation).

There are Queensland Government and Local Council rules for those who provide rental accommodation. Did our hosts follow all these rules? By law, to receive protection under the law, operators of such establishment must display a notice their accommodation is licensed. I must have missed that one, when I was busily taking photos of all the other cottage household rules!!

Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) said “right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” We went away after our cottage stay, not fully comfortable with all the rules, but knowing we did the right thing. We were respectful of our hosts rules and grateful for the comfort they provided for us on our mid-week getaway. Should we return? Nah!

P.S. Apologies for the poor quality of the photos!

Driving Deviations

Driving Deviations

Driving deviations not only happen when we are in the car driving. They can also happen as we walk along the track of life. We get taken to places where we never thought we would go or even end up. Does this sound cryptic? It […]

Board Games

Board Games

Are board games what happens when children or adults are board? Since the digital age there has been a decline in children playing board games. When I was younger playing board games was very popular during the school holidays, rainy days and when entertaining friends. […]

Older people, who cares?

Older people, who cares?

We are all getting older, whatever age we are! One day, those not so old will join the older people brigade. Therefore, it would be wise to make sure we care for older people.

You may have read or heard about the care of older people at the Oakden Nursing Home in Adelaide. It was closed last month after years of complaints. In the meantime, older people had been abused and neglected. Senator Nick Xenophon has called for an inquiry. Is this though, just the tip of the iceberg? What is happening for older people who are unable to speak for themselves, unable to care for themselves? Who cares?

Bringing the matter closer to home my mother is an older person. In July, she will be 91 years old. Older people are now living longer. Are people living longer due to genetics or because of medical intervention and diet? As people are living longer is it time to redefine what is “old”.

My mother had a myagedcare assessment a few months ago. Myagedcare is an Australian Government service for older people. The myagedcare website is where older people can find out about and access a range of services. My mother, who is vision impaired, received a letter telling her about an assignment of a package for services. The letter given to me for further assessment! It is up to my mother to find an approved provider for the services she requires. She was given information about the website and the tool whereby she could compare services in her area. Alternatively, she could call an 1800 number for help to find an appropriate service provider. Then there was the paragraph about costs and the contribution she may be asked to make.  I read the letter several times to understand it and went on the website to find out more information about the process, service providers and costs. It was perplexing and I consider myself internet savvy! What would happen if my mother did not have “older” children who cared about her? Who would be her advocate?

Eventually, I gave up finding information on the website and made a phone call. Following this I became an authorised representative for my mother. My mother is already receiving services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) for transport assistance. The letter from myagedcare advised that she had been assigned a “level two home care” package. The cost of this would be a minimum of $141.40 a day. The only advantage of this is that she would have approval to engage a provider for domestic support.

My question to myagedcare was why not add-on the service to her CHSP? Was this possible? The person I was speaking to could not transfer me through to the CHSP area at that time – possibly something to do with all the enquiries after the flooding in Queensland! Could I call back in a week if I did not hear back by then? Eight days later I spoke to another person at myagedcare. She was very helpful and said that yes, my mother could be assigned “domestic support” as part of her CHSP. This was assigned to her and I was told that an assessor would phone in a few weeks saying it was approved. It is three weeks gone now and neither my mother or I have heard back. In the meantime, my mother receives a phone call asking her if she is taking up her “home care” package? She referred them to me. I never received the call!

The point is, as far as I can understand it, that my mother would be paying out a considerable amount of money just to have her unit cleaned every fortnight via the “home care package”. On the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) adding domestic support would only cost her as much as the provider charged. My mother also has the option of engaging a private cleaner and paying their fee without being bound to a costly “home care agreement”. Currently, her home support needs are low.

Navigating the aged care system is very complex and time-consuming. It can also be very costly for the person receiving the service. If an older person lives solely on an aged care pension then they may need to rely on a State run facility for their care needs. This is risky business for older people. Their dignity, security and peace of mind cannot be assured.

With all the “shifting sand” of government legislation and policy older people are in deep water! Many have no one reliable or trustworthy to help. If you are not disturbed by the Oakden situation and the rights of older people read more here. Older people and their family have good reason for concern.

Yesterday, my sister Christine visited with her husband John. We took them to the State Rose Garden, Newtown Park. This was near the house my sister and I spent most of our growing up years. We wandered by the house. It had recently been sold. It had sat unattended for some time, it was abandoned and neglected. This is something we must not let happen to older people today or tomorrow. We took a few photos for old times’ sake. We remembered the happy times. My sister reminded me of our hand prints in the outdoor patio. How amazing we got to take the photo. Anytime soon, the house will be demolished.

The hand prints of my family in 1958. These are in the edge of the concrete of the back patio and five years after my parents built the house. My hand print is third from the left. I am the eldest of 7 children. In 1958 there were 4 girls. My brother Kenneth, the third child died soon after birth.

My sister Susan passed away when she was 30 years old, my brother Kenneth as an infant. They will never be an “older person” – were they handed a gift, few of us can understand? The gift of a short life? They never had to worry about being an “older person” and relying on others so that their basic needs could be met, valued and respected. Taking this perspective, at least for me, is comforting.

Seed to Feed

Seed to Feed

Last weekend my “One & Only” (O&O) and I went to a “Seed to Feed” Workshop. The workshop is part of the Toowoomba Regional Council Healthy Living, Change Project. The aim, through a series of free and low-cost activities, is to get people active and […]

The Hot Sandwich is really HOT

The Hot Sandwich is really HOT

A day ago I thought the Hot Sandwich was in the distant past, a treasured memory of days gone by. Last night I found out this was not the case. If you have experienced the Hot Sandwich this is not something you can readily let go, […]

The Hot Sandwich

The Hot Sandwich

What is a hot sandwich? Is it a sandwich that is so great everyone wants one? Whatever way you like a sandwich and whatever filling you like, we are all familiar with the good ole sandwich.

There are regular sandwiches that children like or maybe not – the vegemite and jam options. Then there are the ones we make ourselves and have at lunchtime either at home or work. I rather like the sandwiches we make for a picnic lunch or when travelling. A curried egg sandwich always seems to go over well with us. The trick is to keep the egg moist with mayonnaise or milk and butter.

Ham, cheese and mustard are another favourite at our place. In the winter, one of these sandwiches, toasted on the sandwich press and combined with a nice hot cup of tea, is rather enjoyable. Does toasting a sandwich, make it hot. No, not really? The hot sandwich started with my mother making a hot sandwich for my brother, the youngest of seven children.

The tradition of the hot sandwich was then passed on to my son. The hot sandwich consisted of two slices of bread, butter, luncheon sausage and BBQ Sauce. Place it in the microwave oven for a short while (I have forgotten the amount of time), maybe 30 seconds. If you want to try the hot sandwich try 15 seconds and then check! Delicious! Well my brother and son thought the hot sandwich was just great.

Depending on where you live luncheon sausage is called “Devon” or “Fritz” in South Australia. I checked to see if luncheon sausage could still be bought at the supermarket. Yes, there it was, now called “Devon”, 1 kg of it and gluten free! It is not something I buy these days.

This is really Dandy….1 kg of Devon!

When I was a single parent with a young son, luncheon sausage was all I could afford. When my son was about 11 years old he had a friend over to play. I asked his friend what he would like on his sandwich for lunch? He said he would have ham. I had to say, “sorry mate, no ham here, only luncheon sausage”. The best I could offer was a hot sandwich.

These days we buy ham. My “One & Only” (O&O) loves ham. It is a must in his diet. Hardly a day goes by without us having ham in the fridge. Ham is also a processed meat, just like luncheon sausage. If we buy ham on the bone it is better as there are fewer preservatives. It is difficult to get away from preservatives in meat unless we grow and butcher our own meat. Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. It is dry-cured. Prosciutto di Parma is gluten free and free of preservatives. However, it costs more than ham, and certainly much more than luncheon sausage.

The hot sandwich went out of vogue when my son grew up and left home. Over the years my sandwich making has improved. I like the home-made gourmet sandwiches these days. This can consist of triple-brie cheese, ham and semi-dried tomatoes. Then there is the Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Tasmanian Smoked Salmon and baby capers – delicious. And remember, to cut off the crusts on two side, if preparing for visitors. Another one of our favourites is an open one slice sandwich, piled high with salad filling.  The hot sandwich was good in its era but I have moved on and it is no longer on the menu at our place. Maybe when Matt visits us I could offer him a “hot sandwich” – but no, I think he has moved on as well. The hot sandwich is best remembered as a favourite food throughout Matt’s growing up years. He always enjoyed his hot sandwich! It’s best use now – preserved as a treasured memory.

Kitchen Musings

Kitchen Musings

During my kitchen musings, I seem to get a lot done. While doing what would seem to many, mundane chores, I reflect on life and dream about tomorrow. Even at my age, now in retirement, there is a tomorrow and while I have one I […]


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