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Musings on Mum

Was this perfect advice for dealing with dementia?

I pulled this before I left home in Australia #goodadvice #angelcards #coincidence #dementia #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

I’m on the train down to the quaint English seaside town where I grew up, watching the countryside flash by. Neatly hedged fields, thick-walled farmhouses, and glimpses of bigger human settlements marked by the identical carparks and superstores.

I’m trying to work out how I feel. It’s a mixture of jetlagged tiredness, slight anxiety, a little excitement, and my hopeful practice of being an open, blank slate.

It suddenly occurred to me that Mum hasn’t seen me with blonde hair. Well, not since the ill-fated ‘Highlights Experiment of 1985’ anyway; maybe I should pop my blue cap on? This is a new experience: wondering how Mum is going to greet me. For as long as I can remember of course, she has hugged me hello with a squeal of excitement, and teary eyes, especially once I moved to Australia in 1987, and there were long gaps between my flights home.

At my financially poorest, and most rebellious, I admit I didn’t see her for 8 years; I would HATE it if ‘18’ did that to me! It’s all different now though, with Skype and FaceTime etc, so global connections are much easier to maintain…

But will she recognize me in person?

Without question, this is the most dreaded experience of anyone connected to a Dementia sufferer, and I am no exception. I don’t think it’s going to happen quite yet- not this trip anyway- but the newly-blonde hair may throw her a bit.

So I’m gazing at my trepidatious reflection in the train window, wondering what awaits me for the next 3 weeks, and trying to settle all the conflicting emotions in somewhere other than the pit of my belly.

Breathe in, breathe out. Ribcage expands, ribcage softens. The train rattles down the tracks, as I get closer to Mum; locking my front door in Australia on Monday seems like a long time ago, and I seek a soft, familiar, welcoming landing.

But I’m not sure I’m going to get it.

 

In gratitude for the hard-learned gift of patience, and deep belly breathing, G xO

 

‘I’ve got to get this done’: dealing with a parent’s dementia from afar

Wellbeing over 50 often involves caring for elderly parents

Catching the bus to the Mall July 2017 (the hats were unplanned) #motheranddaughter #ageing #dementia #over50

By the time this publishes, I will be en route to the UK. For 3 weeks, I am going to stay with my 82-yr old Mum, who is now suffering quite badly from her dementia. I’ve written about her before in ‘Two rocks lie heavy in my heart; the first is Mum’ . She was having two visits a day from social service carers; it went up to 3 or 4, and now it’s at the maximum of 5 visits.

What an incredible gift is a welfare system hey?

Some hard decisions need to be made, by family members who see her way more often than I, but it’s me who has the Power of Attorney over her financial affairs and wellbeing.

Mum knows I’m coming; she just can’t remember when. Usually I pop in for a few days, then head to France (Australia is a bloody long way from Europe after all), but this time I’m focusing solely on her. Having said that, I’m going to walk every day along the beach, join the gym for some Pilates classes/stress relief, and seek out some 5Rhythms dance classes too I hope- self care is going to be essential.

Some of the upcoming posts will no doubt be a bit sad, but I’m also going to do my best to try and find some humour… if possible.

Watch this space *inserts Hopeful Prayer Hands emojii

In gratitude for free health care and plane tickets with vegetarian meal options, G xO

 

‘Where have you been G?’: stilts, bands, and birthdays basically

Travelling for work is fun, but being home is good for my health

Love travel, and love being home again #gratitude #over50 #travel #homebody #australia @boneAndsilver

Hi! It’s been ages 10 days since I last wrote a post, I’m sorry. Life just got busy, y’know. What with ’18’s big birthday, and 3 gigs on 3 weekends with my fabulous boss/dearest friend, I’ve just not had time to be near my computer. Which is actually very nice, to be honest.

Except I miss y’all!

But I had to pack my stilts for 2 different festivals on 2 consecutive weekends, including my favourite music festival of the year, at which I saw no less than 15 bands. We then flew to Adelaide for a Winter Festival down by the river, at which I drifted silently like a Cloud, AND met up with fellow WordPress blogger Eve over at Unleashing the Couger – photo credit & fancy filter to Eve.

To top off the distractions, yesterday was MY birthday- a proud and delightful 52.

FIFTY TWO. HOW THA HELL did that happen? I can’t believe it; when my Mum was this age, I emigrated to Australia by myself, as a feisty, stubborn, yet-also-anxious 20-yr old, and didn’t see her for years… no Skype or FaceTime back then.

I had the loveliest day here: woke up early, lay in bed musing (my fav pastime), then when ’18’ finally woke up we went to an outdoor spa together, so sat chatting in the jacuzzis and steam rooms surrounded by bamboo and fairy lights- so pretty. A healthy lunch at home was then followed by a sunset beach walk from The Comet Woman (still flaming by, and thrilling/scaring/calming me in equal amounts).

Now I need to do some catching up on all your blogs, and get ready for my little house party this weekend: a cosy ‘Beats Bubbles and Bakes’ gathering on Saturday afternoon, with champagne, homemade cakes, pumpkin soup, and the grooviest funky dance mixes from two DJ friends… I wish I could invite you all, but then it would just get too big!

To sum up the start of this new year of my life, I wrote this on my personal FB page; sharing it here seems like a good idea.

52 hey? I have no idea what 52 is meant to look like, so I am just gonna dance, write, love, learn, explore, share, fuck up, mourn, re-centre, feast, pray, pleasure, create, and politically agitate my way through this coming year… I am filled up with Love and Gratitude for all my beloveds, who are my chosen Family, and for my funky and eccentric blood relatives, who span the globe from Madagascar to New York, Norway, Sydney and the U.K. Thank you all for your connections and support in my ongoing adventure of ageing as disgracefully and present as I can, while my darling son watches on with amusement, occasional annoyance, and a begrudging admiration which still thrills me. Let’s all keep loving each other, our unique planet, and most importantly those less fortunate than ourselves, because I am ONE LUCKY BITCH.

In gratitude for birthdays and swear words, G xO

‘But I don’t need a ceremony Mum’: giving the perfect 18th birthday present

The spirit of Mum and Dad are alive in this antique ring

Best birthday gift for my son #Australia #vintage #silverrings #love #familyheritage @boneAndsilver

Remember how I worked out what to give him in a flash of early morning inspiration, and then he guessed it HERE?

Well of course I went ahead anyway, despite my disappointment delight at his intuition.

It took 2 weeks to organise, during which time his actual birthday came and went, but I could rest in the quiet glory of knowing I’d nailed the present. Family and friends got together on 2 separate occasions to wish him well, and I could see he was very pleased at all the love and attention he so rightly received, bless him.

As we entered the 2nd week, a little nagging began- ‘How long till my ring is here Mum?’ – ‘I can’t wait for my ring, I wish it would hurry up’ etc (spread out over 5 or 6 texts sent at random hours).

Finally I cycled down to the jewellers to collect it, and even she was excited at how well it had turned out, and what an excellent idea it was.

But would it fit? She urged me to bring him in if it needed adjusting, while I determinedly prayed that would not need to happen, as it is open underneath, so there is a certain amount of flexibility in its sizing…

I texted him that it was in the house.

‘I’ll be round in an hour.’

He bounced in the door while I was on the phone- ‘where is it, where is it?’

‘Wait a minute; I am not just giving you the ring. I want there to be ritual with it; it’s important…’

‘Mum, I don’t need a ceremony.’

‘No, but I do.’

Stopping a teenager in full flight when they want something almost within reach is not easy; like holding back a bolting horse.

But I’m as stubborn as he.

I finished what I was doing, then lit 2 candles- one each for Mum (living in England) and Dad (who passed away 10 years ago), and wafted an incense to clear my room. I took a deep breath, reminding myself what I want to say, and why.

‘OK, I’m ready; come in now, and close the door behind you.’

As soon as he enters, I can feel the gravitas or reverence settle on him; I just had to trust that it would. I tell him to sit on the bed, then sit opposite him with the ring in a tiny bag.

I nod to the two candles:

‘I’ve lit them for your Grandma J and Grandpa L, who can’t be here, but are both very proud of the young man you’re turning into. L gave this ring to J on their honeymoon in Mexico, and then she passed it on to me years ago. May the best 3 qualities of each of them come through this ring to you: Dad’s telling of a good story, and his love of good food and travel; Mum’s love of books, her kindness to animals, and her sensitivity. May you pick the best 3 qualities of me that you wish to embody- you can decide what they are for you- and may they too come through the ring. The rest of it is up to you; you are from us, yet uniquely yourself, with your own gifts to offer the world; may this ring journey with you on your amazing path, now that you are officially a young man.’

There was a long silence, as he slipped the ring out of the bag and onto his finger.

It fitted perfectly, and we smiled at each other.

‘Thanks Mum, it’s awesome. And I guess I did need the ceremony after all. Thank you; I get it now.’

Happy 18th at last, my gorgeous son ❤

In gratitude for ritual, G xO

On driving 6 hours West just to discover who’s the boss

I love my job travelling to festivals in the Australian countryside

Being on the road is a great job #australia #country #over50 #gratitude @boneAndsilver

I love my part time job, travelling to festivals to perform and entertain. The work is erratic though, so every gig is a financial bonus, rather than my bread-and-butter income. I enjoy the adventure of being on the road, staying in weird and wonderful rooms, or sometimes a billet with a friendly local.

Last weekend, my employer/very dear friend ‘W’ and I drove almost 6 hours west of the most easterly point of Australia, over the mountainous dividing range to Bingara, ‘The Gem on the Gwydir’. We were performing at their iconic ‘Orange Festival’, based around the annual harvesting of the orange fruit planted to commemorate the dead local soldiers from WW1 and 2.

‘W’ and I hadn’t seen each other properly for a while, so we talked non-stop almost the whole way there. The road got very winding up through the ranges, with sharp corners slowing us down to 45 or 35kms at times.

If I hadn’t been driving, I’d have thrown up for sure.

Touring in Australia has its downside #travel #over50blogger

Life on the road is not always glamorous #australia #bunkbed #over50 #sharingaroom @boneAndsilver

We checked in to our [shared] room at the local pub, and that’s when I recognised my official ‘low status’ more clearly than ever before.

Here’s our room: I automatically took the squeaky lower bunk rather than the double bed.

Actually, I wanted the top bunk, so I could pretend I was a pre-teen on an exciting sleepover, but seriously that thing wobbled so much I couldn’t even get up the ladder.

Then we unpacked the car, and again, I found myself unwittingly on the lowest bar of the status scale; in fact, so low, I was just on the dirty carpet, in the corner, awkwardly needing to step around the bed to actually get there.

*sighs

Still, the art deco architecture of the one-main-street town totally made up for it (population 1,300),

and I found the vintage dress jackpot strung up on a dusty wall in one of those hoarding junk shops:

Nothing like a red 70s dress in Australia

Love a good second hand bargain #vintage #retro #opshop #2ndhanddress @boneAndsilver

It seriously fits like it was made for me, and is going to look so good with my black leather boots and jacket, now that Winter is truly upon us in Australia.

In fact, it made all my ‘low status’ experiences worthwhile (there were more, but ‘W’ reads my blog sometimes, and I don’t want to get sacked); we drove home listening to bad emotional 90s songs she could sing along with to keep herself awake in companionable silence.

So who wears the trousers in your relationship? Do tell!

In gratitude for adventures with dearest friends, who lift you up yet also pull you back down, G xO

Damn you, solo beach walker

Beach walking for wellbeing over 50 in Australia

Beach walking makes me happy #wellbeing #australia #over50 #beach @boneAndsilver

I’m pretty lucky here in Australia: I live less than 10 minutes from a beautiful long beach, and walk and/or jog down it at least twice a week. This morning was no different, although the stormy sky was threatening rain, so there were a lot less people than usual.

I power walked along– away from the break wall with its dots of fishing folk and pram pushers avoiding the sand- watching for the spouting of migrating whales, listening to great music, and enjoying feeling stronger and energetic again after surviving my week on refugee rations.

I passed a few dog walkers, who have to turn back after 500 metres, to protect nesting birds.; I challenged myself to run as fast as I could for 30 seconds, and felt the push and stretch of my muscles. I smiled at the rolling waves, the odd seagull, the wind whipping my hair under my woollen hat and hoodie.

It felt good to be alive, and I didn’t want to stop walking.

Beach walking for wellbeing over 50 in Australia

Beach walking makes me happy #wellbeing #australia #over50 #beach @boneAndsilver

Then I saw a lone figure further down, coming towards me, but still a long way away. I looked back in the direction I’d come, and realised there was quite a distance now between me and the restricted dog walkers, and even further still to the break wall.

I kept walking forwards though, until I could make out that the distant shape belonged to a man.

And then I stopped. I had to. Through grinding teeth, I let out a pissed off sigh, and admitted to myself that I didn’t want to go any further, because I simply didn’t feel safe.

On June 13 in Melbourne, a 22-year old comedian called Eurydice Dixon was murdered while walking home from a gig late at night. There were comments that she ‘…should have been more careful/shouldn’t have been walking alone/shouldn’t have been on her phone…’

NO. No, no, no no!

She had a right to be safe, and to move as she wished through her world. Over the next few days, hundreds of women shared how they modified their behaviour to protect themselves (in supermarkets, carparks, beaches, nightclubs, schoolyards, pubs, parks in broad daylight, and of course even the family home…) and yes, I do it as well.

I just wanted to keep running and snapping silly selfies, all fired up listening to the Arctic Monkeys on my headphones… but because of you, damn solo beach walking unidentified male, I stopped myself.

How many times do we do this, women readers? And how many times do you men modify your movements to actively reassure us? To acknowledge the unspoken, unwitting threat you represent, and to defuse it?

How I wish this post didn’t exist. But sadly, for all of us- male/female/non-binary/fluid/whatever- it does.

And we are ALL trapped in the jaws of violence against women.

 

Interview with bone&silver

Some of these interview questions really made me think! It was a great experience to reflect on and articulate what I’m doing and why- I hope you enjoy this interview and visit Unleashing the Cougar, she’s very smart and very honest. Let me know what you think 🙂 Love G xO

Unleashing the Cougar!

True tales over 50 (Love for self, the planet and that tricky teen) – by the infamous and wonderful, G

This is another in my regular series of in-depth and (hopefully) insightful interviews with bloggers who write on the topics of female sexuality, midlife adventures or dating in the modern age. You can find others here, here, here, here and here.

bone&silverHeadShot G of bone&silver

Firstly G, I’d love to know the backstory of your blog – why you started it, when, and what your goals were? Do ideas for topics just come to you or do you carefully prepare? Where does the name of your blog come from and what’s its significance for you?

My blog started as a motivator to write more regularly. I’d kept a couple in the past (one on puppetry, and one on dealing with the loss of my Dad, and whether to…

View original post 2,234 more words

Without doubt, the most beautiful road sign I’ve ever seen in Australia

The creative caring of a rural community for the homeless

The world’s greatest community road sign #australia #caring #breaktherules #love

I get teary every time I drive past it. Which is quite often, as it’s near the end of my street on the way out of town towards the highway.

That stretch of road becomes long and narrow, without pavements or overhead lights, and cars can drive at 80kms (or faster) after leaving the slow limits of suburbia.

It’s officially Winter now, so despite my tropical address, it’s dark by 5.30pm, as everyone hurries home to their families and snug houses.

Except Alfred.

I can’t remember exactly how long he’s been around, but it’s years. Years and years of just walking in sandals on the road’s edge, leaning more and more to one side in his spine as time passes.

Who is he, my son and I used to wonder? And why is he always walking, sometimes wearing a garbage bag as a jacket, whatever the weather. Nut brown legs, stained clothes, occasionally carrying a stick with litter impaled on the end of it; always walking, no matter the weather.

A couple of years ago, we passed him while giving a lift to my son’s friend, and as usual I exclaimed at the man’s purpose and mystery. Our young passenger said his Dad had told him that the man’s whole family was killed in a car accident.

He’d supposedly never been in a car again.

The teenager said he thought his name was Alfred.

A few months ago, I walked into the Post Office in time to hear the mysterious walker humbly ask at the counter if there was any mail being kept for him?

‘Just one envelope Alfred, that’s all.’

He walked quietly past me out the door, with that particular tilt his body has, and I couldn’t resist mentioning him to the cashier.

‘So he is called Alfred! We’ve always wondered. Does he live round here?’

‘He has a house along C… Drive, on the way out of town. But we keep his mail here, because he’s rarely at home.’

‘Yes, I’ve seen him walking. We all have. He walks a lot hey, in all weathers?’

‘He had a terrible tragedy occur in his life, and he’s been fragile ever since. A terrible event, so he just keeps moving…’. Her voice cracked a little, and my eyes watered in response; we both knew we were talking about a man in deep pain, and that no one could salve it for him.

Which makes his unique personal road sign all the more glorious.

Someone in my town has gone to the trouble of designing, printing, constructing and installing a totally illegal warning sign for all of us, and I am moved to tears. I don’t know if Alfred has even noticed it, or what he’d think if he did, but I’m so touched that it’s there.

Really: have you ever seen a more beautiful thing? 

The creative caring of a rural community for the homeless

The world’s greatest community road sign #australia #caring #breaktherules #love

 

In complete gratitude for small town life and community caring, love G xO

 

So how much did we raise for refugee food, education & medical care?

Support my refugee cause by donating

Please donate to the refugee cause #rationchallenge #actforpeace #refugeerations #firstworldproblems

I was part of a team called Hungry for Peace, aiming to live on the official rations for a week here in Australia. We set our original fundraising target at $2,500, and were hoping to have 5 of us raising $500 each…

Hmmm. Turned into 2 of us aiming at $1,250 each.

That’s OK, I can rise to that. My fellow campaigner is a very experienced fundraiser, having done the Oxfam Trail campaign twice, and regularly participating in various community drives, while I would say I’m usually just an enthusiastic-friend-being-supportive-of her-ongoing-great-ideas-like that-damn-hike-in-Tasmania-remember?

This time, I had to put my money where my mouth was. Or rather, other people’s money where my mouth wanted to be.

And DRUM ROLL…………… our team has raised $3,829.00 so far! Fundraising closes June 30, so don’t hold back now if you forgot 😉  

WOOHOOOOOOOO!

Such a fab feeling. It costs approx $64 to feed a refugee for 3 months on these rations, so that’s 54 displaced human beings no longer being hungry; totally worth my pitiful ‘rice brain’ whinges.

Nothing like fresh organic vegetables for health & wellbeing over 50

My favourite lunch #organicfood #farmersmarkets #wellbeing #grateful @boneAndsilver

On my first day back to real food, I was literally high on sweet relief: the feeling of freedom from restriction, and unfettered access to green vegetables. The second day of normal eating, I was almost jumping out of my skin with delight, and tore through my To-Do List, crossing off 10 longterm items in just a few hours.

I’ve run on the beach, thoroughly cleaned the house, gone to 2 dance classes, and beamed at everyone I’ve passed in the street.

But the sad truth is, if I really was a refugee, I don’t think I’d make it. A week on rations showed me how fragile my stamina can be (on Day 3 of the Challenge I was a mess, with a headache, weak muscles, and feeling so vulnerable/angry/hopeless); I felt like I lost a layer of resilience, a layer of determination, and a layer of positivity. Plus a kilo of weight I really don’t need to.

The emotional rollercoaster was harder than I expected, and I think that’s the biggest lesson for me. I’ve always said that food and nutrition are the essential building blocks or fuel for a good life, of course, and now I really really REALLY know it.

Thank you once again to the few but precious readers who donated to the cause HERE, and you’ve got till June 30 if you feel the urge… and all the supportive comments during my hungry week were greatly appreciated too, as summed up by ‘Q’ on her donation message:

“What a beautiful thing you are doing–and how terrible that it needs doing.”

A special thanks to the big donation by Margaret C- I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but you were very generous, thank you ❤ .

So now, ‘normal bone&silver programming’ will resume: updates on the dating adventures (SO much damn fun); ’18’s’ birthday and perfect gift; various fun art activities, plus general musings on Life over 50, including a guest interview over at Unleashing the Cougar to be reblogged here soon 🙂

In gratitude for the privilege of simply returning to ‘normal programming’, love G xO