A Contented & Satisfying Life
Termite Eaten Bones
These pages were written by Dorothy Bremner
Jacqueline went to Tasmania to protest against the damming of the Franklin River, her fare paid by Peter who at University had become involved in environmental activity. Ian who had lived in Tasmania for ten years, working in the building industry, deplored the waste he had seen, the power as supplied by the Hydroelectric Commission, to the extravagant Aluminium Works and good timber going to the chip mills.
Both Peter and I were arrested and charged with trespassing. Ian offered to pay any fine as his contribution to the cause.Apr 28 As the sale of the house at Sanctuary Pt appears to be going through I have agreed to buy a block up here at Farmborough Hts and am going to sign the contract today.
May 31 Spent all day at Chest Clinic getting tests done.
June Proof-reading for Dorothy.
This was for my paternal family history "Magdalen" which I began ten years earlier, had been doing on and off ever since and which had been published with some financial input from me. I intended to visit people who had attended the reunion to sell them a copy.
26 Trip to Lismore re Dorothy's book.
It got good media coverage and the enterprise was successful. After a very worthwhile book launch we went to the Warrumbungles, did a little walking and saw the magnificent scenery and the observatory at Siding Springs returning via Mudgee to see Dad.
Some work at home. No buyers for Lot 183. (at Farmborough Heights)
As Ian did not have a lot of work he shared the household chores to some extent, especially the garden. Once he decided to make a curry but forgot to check there were all the ingredients and I arrived home with fish!
As an Intern Peter found it frustrating that people were brought to hospital to be cleaned up, patched up and well-fed until they were discharged and went out to a repetition of events that had caused the problem. He became more drawn towards keeping discerning people healthy and to alternate medicine. This was more possible in the Blue Mountains where he was also able to take up rock-climbing and met a lot of adventurous people. He had met Sarah who was still at University and whom we liked very much. When she came to visit I tried to cook something they would not normally cook for themselves in their busy lives. She teased me that every time they came I made lemon meringue pie, thinking it was a treat. Perhaps it was at first but had become predictable!
Mar At weekend we went to Sydney to do some work for Margaret .
Aug Shelves for Karen. Fixed Norna's wardrobe.
Oct Parma Rd. Started framing up the ensuite in a house Kevin has moved in two pieces from Kiama.
Jacqueline went on a yacht as crew member, heading north to Vanuatu. Her first job was to create a Canadian flag, but the trip was aborted and she travelled on several other yachts before going banana-picking near Cairns.
On her return she started working in Sydney for Bronwyn, a quadriplegic woman who had two school age boys and who had been in a serious accident. Jacqueline was mainly involved in driving, general managing and cooking as required, under the direction of Bronwyn who remained in charge of her household.
In January Bronwyn's family helped Jacqueline organise her 21st birthday party in a Roseville Bridge park. I did most of the cooking and brought it up to Sydney. The boys carried a large, whole watermelon walking from the nearest station taking two or three hours!
I had a set of children's encyclopaedias from my children, which were suitable for Ian's grandchildren of the same age, but Sean and Karen were not happy because they thought Kylie at three did not know how to use books. When Glen was to start school we gave him and Alison each a backpack. I felt Glen was very ill-equipped for school as he did not know colours, had no idea of numbers and could not hold a conversation. His parents said "That's the school's job". Ian's old neighbour from Kiama was the headmaster and we heard about Glen's unpromising school life. Alison was much better, having gone to preschool, was used to communicating, handling books, listening to stories, singing, cutting out, colouring, sharing and taking turns playing in groups.
Sean may have wanted to be a more assertive parent than Ian had been to him, but had problems communicating seriously. He tended to tease as an attempt at intimacy. Child development was a mystery, education not valued.
Norna argued with the people where she had been living and moved first to a flat, then to a Housing Commission place at Bellambi with her daughter. She was eligible for a place only because of Alison's Aboriginality. A traveller persuaded her to buy six pairs of expensive fashion jeans to be paid off. At the time jeans were "in" for all occasions for her generation. Norna found she was in financial trouble and borrowed $300 from me, of which she repaid $100 over time. One day she let off a pesticide "bomb" in the cottage much to our horror.
Feb 19 Went to Chest Clinic. Little change.
April Built-in-wardrobe for Karen.
I was due for four and a half months Long-Service Leave. We decided to go overseas and I began to explore the possibilities. We both saw a vast difference between being tourists and being travellers. I knew I would have to do all the organising. Ian's contribution was to include a trip to Iceland or Norway. For months we gathered information about places we might visit as we wanted to make good choices and did not want to find ourselves with only a superficial understanding of what we would see. We also had to be aware of costs and not look at the usual "tours" but in making bookings we requested twin beds for preferences. Ian could sleep soundly anywhere but he disturbed me with loud breathing and erratic movements. Dad arrived from Mudgee to look after our little dog and stay in the house. Ian let Norna have the use of his utility in return for her helping Dad with his shopping.
After an excellent short package tour of Athens and Delphi we flew to London where we had ordered a Campervan on a buyback arrangement, then drove to Scotland. I was immediately captivated by the village of Ian's birth of which he had told me so many interesting stories. The crofting cottage of his childhood was very evocative. Some members of his family and people who had been his school mates were still there and even his first teacher. On our visits we stayed with an uncle and aunt I liked very much. We walked the hills and rediscovered the scenes, including prehistoric standing stones that I had heard so much about. Many things had not changed in his lifetime, many people had retained their attachment. I felt these stories should be recorded.
In Norway we put the van in a long-term parking place and went on the daily mail-boat trip into the Arctic Circle and back, a fantastic highlight, then slowly drove south, visiting my first husband's family in the Black Forest. Being a few years older Ian was interested in the war so we visited the scenically superb area where Hitler had his summerhouse. Then to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, staying several days in my favourite place which quickly became Ian's. After northern Italy and Austria we spent some time in France then to UK and some of my paternal homelands. The scenery, the local cultures, birds, history, geology inspired us. Until we had met, Ian had never travelled very much for pleasure. He had long since learnt how rewarding it is. I had made myself a whole new wardrobe but ended up wearing the same favourites most of the time.
While we were overseas, much to our surprise, Jacqueline suddenly decided to come over, went to Scotland, met some of Ian's family and was working as a nanny in London when we got back to England after our trip on the Continent. We met at an address in Kent which I had given for communication and arranged to meet again and tour briefly together in the Oxford area. From Scotland we took our van to the Outer Hebrides where we saw beautiful standing stones and Ian was delighted to hear some Gaelic which fascinated him. We attended the Braemar Highland Games near Ian's hometown. We were not tempted to load ourselves up with souvenirs, but bought Alison a book, "The Old Man of Lochnagar" about Braemar and T shirts for Glen and Kylie who were not into books.
Later Jacqueline got a job working in London for Prunella Scales and Timothy West (actors) and we were invited to stay in their basement flat for a week before heading home. Ian had no interest in London until we got there. We went to see "Rigoletto", Ian's first opera and so much more.
Peter and his girlfriend Sarah met us at the airport in Sydney. Dad had gone back to Mudgee for a while, leaving a neighbour to see to the dog. The house and garden were in a sad state, I was immediately back to work and Ian was not well, probably affected by the air-conditioning on the plane. This was such an anticlimax!
When Jacqueline got back to Australia she went nannying again for a while then got into the Tourism industry. Peter and David tried living in the Blue Mountains and travelling each day to Sydney. David practised his guitar on the way. We met Greg Mortimer who had climbed Mt Everest in 1984. He was taking Peter rock-climbing.
A little later we took Dad back to my brother's place in the Blue Mountains and began to look at land. We had decided that when I retired we would move to the country to a small acreage and looked at areas from Kurrajong Heights, Gosford, Little Forest and Sussex Inlet, finally found a block at Tomerong, south of Nowra which was within our price range, not too far from the library and doctors and near the beautiful Jervis Bay. The lack of sewerage, garbage collection or mail delivery was no deterrent. This was in some ways similar to the countryside where Ian had enjoyed a carefree childhood.
Peter helped us with the deposit on the land as our money was tied up in property in Wollongong. The land we chose was mainly almost natural bush, the front acre had been regularly slashed bare, but we planned to change that. Soon Acacias and Eucalypts began to grow. Some of the trees we bought in the early days were unsuitable and did not survive.
In December 1985 Peter's wanderlust took him trekking in the Annapurna Range in the Himalayas. We invited Norna to spend Christmas with us but she preferred to go to friends as they were more extravagant than we were. She never spent a Christmas with us. Our celebration was pretty low-key, New Year was more important and we sought a Scottish party (ceilidh).
Kylie started school much better equipped than Glen had been, as she had him to talk to and interact with.
30 April Dorothy and I went to Kiama and signed mortgage for the land at Tomerong.
I was introduced to computers at school. I couldn't see a lot of use for them in the classroom as there were few available to anybody except people working in that field. At least I had an idea of what David and Sean were talking about. We also subscribed to the Australian Geographic which was just setting up and from then on read it cover to cover.
In the May holidays we went to Adelaide to see Ian's Aunt Meg, at 86 still full of vitality. We went via Hay, and back via Mt Gambier and the Grampians.
Ian had trouble getting work as he could not compete with younger men. He worked around the house and did small jobs where he could and started making plans for the block at Tomerong. I was in favour of having a water tank and solar heater on environmental grounds, as I had already experienced one. We both wanted plenty of bookshelves and a special place for a large atlas we wanted. I had seen a special shower-bath and proposed getting one, but Ian was not convinced. The bathroom and living rooms would face the north with large windows to take advantage of the winter sun (a passive solar house). Ian's bedroom was on the north for warmth, mine on the east. We would have a wood heater as there would be plenty of free firewood on the block. Escaping the pollution of Wollongong and having a rainwater tank must help Ian's asthma. We had both grown up with an appreciation of the preciousness of water; he had had to carry water from an outdoor pump, summer and winter to the cottage; I had spent a lot of time living with people on tank water, and also knew the need to find clean water when bushwalking.
Mon Oct 10 W'gong Dr.
16 Had to see the doctor as I had a pain in my right lung. He gave mystechlin V.
His illness did not immediately clear up and he had more antibiotics and was sent for blood tests which were not conclusive. He tried to avoid drugs and only took what was necessary to keep going.
In December we had a trip to Tasmania with the Datsun visiting old friends of Ian's including Jim Clark who had come from the same area as Ian, and had migrated earlier. We saw another friend who had the shower-bath I wanted, but Ian was still not convinced.
Ian's eyesight was not good for driving as he did not see things which were very clearly visible to me. We had more arguments over such matters than anything else, but he usually left the driving to me. While we were away Jacqueline organised a 60th birthday party for Ian, inviting old friends and colleagues from Kiama to the Germania Club.
Feb 7 In the evening there was a surprise party for me at the club. A complete surprise.
After meeting several people who would not normally have been there, he announced "This cannot be a coincidence."
12 Sixty today!
2 Afternoon to chest clinic.
Wed May 27 Got blood test.
April 7 Went to Nowra and put plans in for Lot 13 then down to Tomerong and watered trees etc.
June 29 Went to eye specialist. Have to go back in 6 months.
July 2 Raining in morning and had a chest pain so lay in bed till lunch.
Can't get digger for Tomerong so started on Sean's shed.
Ian bought an old caravan and put it on the block. I made him frozen dinners for his evening meals Mon to Thurs.
With the building began a period of arguments and adjustment. I had a lot of innovative ideas. Ian was used to making his own building decisions, especially with "spec" houses and he preferred the familiar and simple. This was to be OUR home and I had equal voice, but was not on hand and choices were often made in my absence. We tried to avoid this situation, but it was not easy as Ian tended to plan only a minimum of time ahead. I went down as often as possible. In the meantime Jacqueline saw the shower-bath I wanted, similar to one she had used and was strongly in favour. Finally she persuaded Ian. But a major problem arose over it. It had to be ordered in the size and colour required. By the time it arrived Ian had put up the house frame. To install the shower-bath some of the frame had to be demolished.
Wed Nov 18 ...now I have caught a virus and can't do much [on house at Tomerong]
Wed Dec 16 Frame delivered at last. Laid flooring. Not well.
Fri Dec 18 Straightened frames by lunch time then went home feeling awful, frame not quite finished. Back to doctor tests etc and bed
Tues Dec 29 Finished essential bits of frame then went home still sick. Back to doctor.
The pathology report of his blood tests indicated that Ian was anaemic, as he probably had been for years. There were adequate iron stores which he was unable to utilise. He had a raised ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate), a higher than normal calcium level in the blood. This could be due to chronic infection, or an inflammatory condition but malignancy could not be excluded. It showed nothing specific. He was referred to a haematologist in Wollongong. I looked even more diligently at ingredients to make sure I was not using carcinogenic substances.
The boys were renting a unit in Bronte. Peter met Dagmar who was born in Germany and was here on a temporary visa studying Natural Therapies. On our first meeting in 1987 Dagmar was unsociable and went for a walk for an hour and a half and meditation during the visit. I did not take to her. I tried to accept her as Peter's choice and her attitude as being "alternative". She showed no interest in us. I told myself it as "just her manner", hoping that she would warm to us. I felt she disapproved of my meals. They were vegetarian but I had mixed carbohydrates and proteins and had served melon after the meal instead of before. And she severely disapproved of any drugs and chemicals. We tried to have a rational attitude between the two paranoid extremes - those whose fear of insects led them to use drastic chemicals and those whose fear of any chemicals led them to fanaticism.
In March Peter had asked us to take things he had left with us to Sydney as he and Dagmar planned to set up house together in a place Peter, David and Dagmar rented. They had decided to go to Nepal to get married as Dagmar's visa would expire soon. David would have to find another flat-mate.
Xrays and blood tests they found me slightly anaemic and with a high sedimentation rate.
Jan 12 I saw chest specialist and my chest Xray was OK. After losing 5 kg I had put over 3 back on and am feeling a lot better but not right.
Jan 15 Jan 15-6 Dorothy and I went down to Lot 13 and did a bit as the brickies want to start on Monday. The roof wasn't on or even delivered as supposed....
Mon Jan 18 Attending to brickies and was kept hopping. Luckily I am feeling quite good.
Thurs Feb 4 Another blood test
Sun Feb 7 Dorothy came down on bus and it came on rain. Planted virgillia and other things. Home. Have to go to chest doctor on Tuesday.
When I turned 55 I retired, and planned to do some casual teaching in the Shoalhaven. Although I had always enjoyed teaching I did not like the principal at my last school and was glad to leave. The staff gave me a present of money for trees. In the meantime I was very busy at home sorting and packing, passing things on to the children, giving things away, throwing things out. From then on I usually went with Ian to the specialists. I asked probing questions and recorded the results. Otherwise Ian tended to let the doctor digress and chat about other things.
Feb 25 The new saw bench made it easier. Dorothy and Peter came down late.
Feb 26 Dorothy cleaned up. Peter had done some slashing yesterday and did some more today.
Thurs We went to Sydney and took Peter's stuff up. Did a job for Margaret and stayed at Jacquie's place. It looks like we have sold the house at Farmborough Hts ! How quick!
Mar 11 Dorothy came down for the day. Ordered white goods from ICC Nowra.
Mar 22. Architraves. I miss my good eyesight.
Dorothy and Harold (my father) came down and brought the quarry tiles. Did a bit more on the kitchen till the light beat me.
Peter and Dagmar went to Nepal, found they could only register a marriage via India which would take a long time, so they went to Bangkok where the environs did not appeal. They put a lot of store of where the ceremony took place, believing that the atmosphere could affect the outcome. When they got back to Australia they moved to Mt Victoria. A gathering for family and friends was planned. I told Dagmar that my brother and family would like to come, but she was not impressed. We were planning to go to Expo in Brisbane, come back via Mudgee to visit Dad and reach Mount Victoria before the get-together. Peter found it more fulfilling to deliver babies, especially by natural methods if the parents had prepared themselves.
Ian had trouble with his foot and went to a local doctor who said he might have arthritis and that he should wear soft shoes.
I had to get help to pitch the roof.
April 1 Norna had borrowed the car (Kamper) and it broke down. Looks like the clutch. We were going away too. To Rankins Springs re family reunion.
April 12 Wasn't working to capacity as my foot hurts. It's been sore for 10?days.
April 13 Went to local doctor re my foot. Arthritis he says. Damm! Must wear soft boots
I am slowed down by the sore foot. Will rest it on the weekend.
My foot was getting sore anyway.
May 2 Got here after a period of heavy rain and flood to find water all over the living room floor. That really made my day, and to make matters worse the Council had dug the ditch onto our land - and my bed was wet! Furthermore I couldn't find out where the water was coming in. Oh joy!!
May 3 Last night at dinner I suddenly realised that the water would be coming down the telephone cable if they used a conduit. They had and there was more there this morning. When I put a notch in the pipe it spewed out. I hope it doesn't swell the particle board too much.
Carried on with wardrobe and had practically finished when the doors arrived. I installed same then found I couldn't open drawers. I almost cried - then started to dismantle them. A good job spoiled.
Dorothy and Jacqui had a garage sale. Got rid of quite a lot, also the billiard table.
Mon May 23 Foot didn't hurt much until afternoon.
27-5-88 Xrays of right foot and ankle at Wollongong Hospital.
Mon May 30 MOVED IN.
Next three months doing bits and pieces at home and numerous trips to doctors.
Thurs Sep 1 Had to go to see the haematologist and get a bone marrow sample taken. My ESR is down all of a sudden and the cholesterol is normal.
Tues Sep 6 Got a touch of virus so went to bed.
But Ian was not well. As soon as the weather was warmer he asked me to sow a packet of bird seed in the area which was to be the vegetable garden. Up came corn, peas and many other things. What was not edible was turned in to become green manure. We could see we would have to fence out the wildlife, an inevitable consequence of living near the bush. A fence was not enough as the bower birds still ate the strawberries and young broccoli plants, so in time it was roofed over as well. Ian commented on the bower birds sitting on the wire roof "drooling" over their favourite food. There were also other less welcome forms of wildlife which we coped with - ticks and leeches. The only salt we used was to discourage leeches. The compost bins were not yet built so we just made do with heaps. Everything possible was recycled, the small amount of plastic had to be taken to the tip or "lost" in a garbage bin somewhere. Drinking water was brought in from the tank in a suitable container.
We found we had marvellous neighbours, Phyl and Paddy, a few years younger than us with thoughtful adult son and daughter and grandchildren not too far away. Paddy had bought a ride-on mower to cut his large lawn, and we came to an agreeable arrangement with him. We shared such a lot with them, including the collection of our mail from the Post Office, but there was always a respect for our privacy. As soon as we stopped slashing the whole block, natural vegetation began to appear. By October Ian was again whistling in his workshop, so we set out as planned on our trip.
Sept- Oct went to Expo
We had bought an old VW Kombi from a friend of Jacqueline's and had a few short trips within NSW and decided to go to Expo in Brisbane. After several days seeing the excellent displays at Expo we went to O'Reilly's, Lamington National Park which had inspired me for many years since my bushwalking days. We were on the way towards Mudgee with Ian driving and obviously he did not see a large ditch which looked like a shadow under a tree. I screamed for him to stop. To me the ditch was so distinct. From that trip on Ian did less and less driving. I did not trust his eyesight. After seeing Dad we drove to Mount Victoria to Peter and Dagmar's housewarming. When we arrived Peter was at work and we felt unwelcome so went on to my brother's at Warrimoo and went back later for the housewarming.
Mon Oct 10 W'gong specialist. (another specialist for a nuclear scan Xray re his foot)
On one visit to the Chest Clinic I asked the nurses to remove a minute tick on my eyelid, but they sent me to Casualty, where several doctors with a "searchlight" still had trouble as my eyelid stretched as they pulled, until I stretched my eyelid sideways and a senior doctor succeeded.
I learnt there was a long waiting list for teachers wanting casual work. Ian and I had both expected to work at least part-time. Ian applied for several jobs but could not compete with younger men and did not make any money from the jobs he got. He had not had to pay tax for a while, and I filled out the forms for him as I was used to doing my own. While Ian was working his taxation was complicated and he went to an accountant. As I had always taken a minimum of units my superannuation was not large but we lived on it quite happily. From then on any money from my superannuation which was surplus to immediate requirements went into his bank account, but his total income always remained below taxable level.
We had decided to treat ourselves to the very best World Atlas available and Ian built a special sloping support for it in our bookshelves. In general we lived simply and produced a lot of food in the vegetable garden and from the fruit trees and were contented.