Not quite sure why this thought has suddenly popped into Andrew’s head, I just respond: ‘Yes, that’s the dime that you still have right?’
‘Yeah. Well, yesterday I was at the vending machine, and it was the anniversary of his death yesterday and the machine wouldn’t take my coin. I thought it was a New Zealand 10 cents, but when I picked it up to look, it was an American quarter.’
In Australia we often find New Zealand 10s and 20 cent coins but American ones are not common at all. It didn’t surprise me when Andrew told me he’d kept the coin. But the morning’s lesson didn’t end there. Andrew proceeded to tell me how American quarters were once made largely of silver but that became too expensive in the 60s and they then used copper in the centre. He told me that I had to check out the coin’s edge where you could clearly see the copper centre. Indeed you can and there is a large portion of a Wikipedia page dedicated to explaining how the Washington Quarter – a silver coin – came not be made of Silver but rather the “clad composition with Flanagan reverse.” (Sounds like it could equally be an olympic diving move to me)
I imagine that some people may visit Andrew’s house and wonder why there is a quarter stuck to the wall, just as I first asked why there was a dime stuck to the bed head. Yet I will know and remember the quiet moment when Andrew recalled his brother. It’s much like the moment I share with mum each year on Anzac day when we compare the state of polish on our shoes as a way of remembering my grandfather. The coins and the shoes are both obscure yet personal references that only family would understand and when Andrew shares this with me, it’s a lovely moment of feeling like family to him.
It’s only natural to reflect on the year as it comes to a close. So here’s some highlights – and lowlights – of 2011.
It’s hard to believe that Andrew has only had Pickle a year! He arrived in mid-January 2011 and was a playful and bitey kitten.
Now look at him… all grown up!
Then came Gesso! Much smaller than Pickle had ever been and far more sooky from day one.
His deafness has brought a few new challenges. Getting Pickle to steer clear of walksticks and wheelchairs was difficult enough. Gesso has taken ‘challenge’ to a whole new dimension; culminating on Christmas Day when he got too close to Andrew while he was standing and ended up being trod on. He sunk his teeth in to Andrew’s foot in protest. Fortunately, Gesso was unharmed and although left with a nasty bite, Andrew’s foot is healing. I’m hoping that after that experience, Gesso will learn to dodge feet, walking sticks and wheelchairs as well as Pickle does.
My girls, Licorice and Saffron, continued to be good company; for me and for each other:
There were few surprises in the artistic area. I continued my pattern of putting things in paintings and then removing them. (The daschund below first had a skateboard; later replaced by stilts.)
I rediscovered an old canvas and turned it from this:
Andrew started art school (of which I am more than a little jealous). I don’t have many photographs of his work… I wish I had more. Here’s just three from this year:
These two oil paintings are still in progress:
New Sewing projects
Some things never change. Saffron continued her dressmaking assistance into 2011. Her favourite habit is sitting on the fabric one is trying to sew!
I embarked on some heirloom work for a white cotton sateen slip:
and completed a thoroughly indulgent silk slip.
Somehow I quickly forgot how difficult it is working with slippery and lightweight fabrics, for I moved on to this 1940 pattern:
which, as at the time of writing, remains incomplete (needs sleeves, facings and a hem!)
I explored some other parts of Sydney in 2011 and we ventured a little further afield. First to Fitzroy Falls (reasonable disabled access):
then to Mogo Zoo: (access was a bit dodgy due to uneven and steep paths combined with recent rain!)
To Balls Point Reserve in Sydney: (inaccessible!)
Of course, I couldn’t forget the Dubbo trip! (Dubbo Zoo is wonderfully accessible and we had such great experiences photographing countryside on the way there and back).
La Perouse was not new but offered up some beautiful sunsets for us.
Looking back on this, I have to laugh. Below is a cake I made to celebrate receiving news that Andrew would get a new wheelchair.
We received confirmation we would get a chair back in April. Naively, I made this cake in May thinking the chair would arrive any day! We finally took delivery in September!
For anyone wondering why the mm’s on this cake are lime green and orange… well that was the colour choice being debated. The triffid, as I like to call it, brought much needed relief in the form of a more lightweight chair. It also caused a crisis by being too wide to fit through the bathroom door.
Once it became clear that the bathroom door could not be widened, after much drama, it was time to move house! Now I can only be thankful that Andrew has nowhere near as much crap in his place as I do in mine. Even so, packing was not easy. Pickle helped by packing himself in a crate.
Not content with expanding our feline family, my brother and sister-in-law, gave me a niece as well!
A minor little thing that happened this year!
This is one ‘new’ thing 2011 brought that my family could have done without. However, we don’t get to choose these things, so I went about learning what I could about MS and being as supportive as possible.
Well, put like that, it was one hell of a year. Here’s to 2012.
Moving house is up there on anyone’s list of stressful activities. Moving when you have a physical disability comes with a few added stressors. Most challenges can be conquered with a little of that disability ingenuity that I have come to love with Andrew. Yet, when all is said and done, he is still limited in his ability to lift objects and move them where they need go. As such, he had to do one of the most difficult things of all – accept help from wherever it was offered.
Wonderfully, it was offered in abundance. It came from friends, acquaintances and new neighbours. My favourite is the person who was overseas so volunteered their family to help! My father dug up gardenias and my mother was given chief ‘wrapping duties’ of delicate items such as the blind budgies scuplture. (Yes, even when mum would have tossed the item, she smiled and wrapped it as directed!)
Thanks to the kindness of so many, I shall sleep very well tonight knowing that Andrew is in a more accessible environment; his risk of falling in the bathroom or laundry now reduced. Next time sometime tells me how many terrible things are happening in the world, I shall remember this weekend and tell them that generosity and community spirit is alive and well.
I must remember to adjust my wristwatch to daylight savings time. In this digital age, every other appliance seems to have adjusted the time for me. Then again, being an hour behind probably won’t matter to much. I’m 70 years behind on my clothing!
This is my next sewing project. The plan is to make a black slip and then two dresses out of these sheer floral fabrics. I had wanted to use cotton sateen, also known as polished cotton, for the slip. I’ve made slips from this previously (to sleep in) and they have a lovely feel. Unfortunately obtaining black is a wee bit tricky! I bought a georgette instead but I’m not convinced that it will work. I’ll have to check with my sewing master.
As for the top part, I’m confident that these fabrics will look lovely. The black one on the right I bought at a vintage show (although the seller was honest enough to tell me that it wasn’t actually an old piece of fabric – just an old look!). At the same show I bought a piece of unused 1940s black crepe. I’m saving that for a special piece. The brown print I bought on the left yesterday. It reminds me of the ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) Thienhuong’s family gave me for her wedding. The flowers on the ao dai are far prettier than on this fabric but given all those ‘soft pleats’ I don’t think it will matter. I’m intending to use a ‘cross’ of the pattern on the left and the one on the right. I don’t want the puffy short sleeves which are on the left and I’m not fussed on the large collar. That said, while pretty, that high ‘boat’ neck would look silly on me. (I’d look like a giraffe in a floral print) In the end it will probably be more like the one on the left but with more subtle sleeves and a small turn back collar. I have some calico to make a sample bodice which I hope to cut the pieces for this weekend. Of course this depends on whether Saffron and Licorice choose to assist with the fabric. The last time I cut something at home, Licorice curled up in one end of the fabric which was draping off the end of the cutting table. It took me some time to realise she was there… I just couldn’t fathom why the fabric wouldn’t slide across the table.
Cat assistance aside, I shouldn’t really be cutting fabric, I should be tidying as I have guests coming next Saturday. Well, actually, I’m not ‘the host’. Andrew and I were invited to dinner at a friends house. They have a lovely single storey old style house. Unfortunately that means it comes with a small bathroom with a narrow door which Andrew can’t access. When I told my friend that Andrew couldn’t make it but I could come, she and her husband offered to cook all the food and bring it over the my place. I now just have to clear enough art and sewing stuff out of the way to set-up the table. At least I don’t have a Pickle cat in permanent residence on my table like this one…
…although Licorice did some table top dancing last time we dined.