Category Archives: general


I was transferred back to Maryborough a couple of days ago, but have spent most of that time sleeping. I think I’ve been catching up on sleep that I didn’t get in the 4 patient ward at Hervey Bay. One lady talked in her sleep and had lots of gossipy conversations and giggles. Kept me awake most of the night. I have a lovely big private room here so it’s much better for rest and snoozing.

I’ve been up to the shower here and stay under the water for half an hour or longer…the hot water is heaven. My nurse yesterday said it too hot and turned it down but I love hot water.

The ulcers they found happily bleeding in the endoscopy and colonoscopy have been fixed and now I have strong antibiotics to get rid of their bacteria. One doctor was so keen to tell me to google Barry Martin….https://Wikipedia/wiki/Barry_Marshall.When I saw the info on the net, I told him I knew about this Perth doctor.I remember that round the time he was in the news, the America’s Cup was in full swing in Fremantle. I went to a cup party and sat on the roof of the cottage on Stirling in Cottesloe to watch the race…the race was cancelled that night…can’t recall why now, but we sat up there talking about this Barry Martin. Most of the party goers were either journos from the West, or The Sunday Times, and others were medical guys. I still marvel at the fact I climbed that ladder onto the roof. Good times. Met one guy in pink who told me he was Jesus, and it was my chance to sleep with ‘Our Lord’…. I told him he wasn’t my lord and he could go jump into the ocean. He dressed in pink…shirt, jeans and wore a white panama hat. What a spiv! This guy drove a huge gas guzzler car that was pink…he asked me to drive him home to Wembley because he’d had so much to drink. Fat chance Buddy, because I was ‘drunker’ than he was. I did the right thing and got a cab home…my girlfriend who was living with the kids and I (mongrel violent husband) drove back to my car late Sunday to make sure the alcohol was clear. It didn’t take much to affect me even back then.


Tim and his Dad, Adrian, have been busy taking up the carpet in the front entry and lounge. The rest of the house can wait and we’ll probably put new carpet in the bedrooms. It does get cold here in winter and I think polished wood floors would freeze. Flat boards have to put down first as the original boards are uneven and in places rotten. It will look lovely when done. I would like a mantle piece added and an electric fire with the ‘flames’. It seems warmer and cosy when there is a flame somehow. Mind you, at the moment the temp here has been well into the 30s (C) and very humid. The air cond in my room is sometimes too cold and I have to put on a cardigan!


Well I have to now take my 12 morning tablets. I take them with yoghurt because I just cannot get them down with water or juice. Too many of them. I spoke to the lovely Edward who set my broken arm in 2015. My arm is painful and weak with a huge lump on the wrist. He said to fix it he would need to break it again….not keen. He said when I’m up and walking again to make an OP appointment and have a chat about it.

I will leave this now and post it for you all to read. I haven’t done much writing over the past couple of days but will try to do that today.It’s a story I started about 5 or more years ago now so it’s time it was finished. Don’t care if it’s published or not – I write for the enjoyment and have no ambition to be a famous author. From what I’ve seen with some ‘would be authors’ who have written books with well known writers to help them along, the writing is mediocre. Bit harsh I guess, but I have thought this for some time now.

I have my favourite authors I read….Susanne O’Leary, Annie Seaton, Jan Brigdon , to name a few. I used to enjoy Roisin Meaney’s books and her first 4 or 5 were great, but after talking to her on a more personal basis on a page for Irish girls (most of my Irish authors are lovely) and I realised that while trying to be funny, she had bully type tendencies and didn’t seem to care if she was rude and hurt other’s feelings. Probably not good of me to write this, but at this stage I feel I have nothing to lose and honesty is the best policy. If they can’t take the criticism, they should take a long hard look at their attitude and make adjustments, just as we all do from time to time.

More later.Take care and keep smiling. Thank you all for your continued support…I truly appreciate it.









Chapter 3

Chapter 3


The next day Meryl arrived bright and early at her office, ready to assemble the next issue for the Free Press.

She had been running the local newspaper for the past two months. Her father had owned and operated the business for over forty years, so when he died suddenly, it made sense to take over and keep it in the family. Meryl made a few changes to modernise the production of the weekly paper and she hired a sales person to expand the area to be covered. The improvement in growth and sales were more than pleasing. Her experience from working on a major daily newspaper in Melbourne had proven invaluable.

Her mother Yvonne, had insisted Meryl and her daughter, five-year-old Beth, live with her. Yvonne took Beth to prep school and to the various appointments kids seem to need, she acted as babysitter and housekeeper claiming it gave her life purpose after losing the love of her life.  Meryl thought about her parents’ relationship as she made herself a coffee. Johnson Henderson was a handsome man whose eye often wandered, but never failed to return home. Yvonne was one of those patient wives who busied herself with charity work and friends, waiting for him to get over the current woman, usually a widow. Johnson was kind and willing to comfort them as they wrote the eulogy or notice for the husband they were no doubt painting a fake picture of. When Johnson’s funeral was held, people were amazed to see the number of grieving widows, singing Anne Murray’s ‘You Needed Me’ with such passion.

Meryl shook her head. No man would do this to her, she vowed. When Beth was just a colour on a stick, Meryl had already decided the father would not be told or included in Beth’s life.

Firing up her computer, a slow outdated piece of equipment her father had been using, Meryl made a mental note to have the office equipment updated where necessary. It would be too expensive to jump in and change the lot, but she needed a few apps and systems to produce a high quality weekly newspaper.

Glancing out the window, she watched school kids meeting in the rotunda. No Mr Ducar and Susan, but it was early morning and he had said dusk was the meeting time. Her toe touched the soft leather brief case he had left in the coffee shop. He was sure to come into her office today to collect it and perhaps tell more of his story.

Today was the twenty-fourth. A pang of excitement hit Meryl’s stomach for a fleeting second. Feeling silly, she was grateful to have this old office to herself. She could feel the flush in her cheeks and had to concentrate on getting articles written, researched and edited for what she believed was going to be a huge success. She would make sure to keep an eye on the rotunda at least.

At lunch time, Meryl walked briskly to her mother’s house. It was so nice to be able to see Beth often during the day, tuck her up in bed with a story chosen by Beth, and enjoy delicious home-made food, she thought with a smile. The kitchen smelled of curry turnovers which Beth was already tucking into.

‘You look so happy since you’ve been home’ her mother commented.

‘That’s because I am feeling relaxed’ she smiled at her mother. Meryl told her mother Mr Ducar’s story. Her mother looked very thoughtful for a few moments and asked if she knew Susan’s surname. Meryl explained about the brief case which her mother suggested she open and find the information.

‘Do you think you know who she might be, Mum?’

‘I’m not sure, but it could be Susan Collins. The last I heard about her though, she was very ill in a private hospital in Brisbane.’

‘Oh, that could put a different light on things, couldn’t it? mused Meryl.

On her way back to work, Meryl popped into the café where she and John Ducar had coffee. Why the hell didn’t she take the time to hear him out? She just didn’t feel right about snooping in the bag.

Her office assistant announced there had been a few calls for her, one from a guy in Sydney called Nik.

‘He sounded really nice’ Gemma commented.

‘He’s a doctor and very busy so it is rather nice that he has rung a couple of times now.’

‘You haven’t called him back?’ Gemma was incredulous.

‘Not yet, but I don’t need complications in my life right now, so Nik will either have wait or fade away. Fate will decide.’

Gemma sighed in despair and dumped a file unceremoniously on Meryl’s desk.

Meryl smiled but buried herself in the editing of articles submitted by the journos and locals.

She would be busy for a few hours now and had no time to think of Nik nor John Ducar.rotunda

Sylvia’s Thread of Life

Sylvie’s Thread of Life.
A Short Story Written By
Jo Skehan
(Approx. 1500 words)
Copyright held by Author.

Sylvie stood for a moment looking at the soft mound of earth recently placed carefully and
respectfully by the groundsmen. Dressed in black with a bright red scarf, one of John’s
favourites, and a wide brimmed black hat with no veil. Sylvie didn’t want to look too much
like the grieving widow.
Her three daughters walked slowly back to where the highly polished, black cars were
parked waiting to take them home. Home to what? Sylvie wondered to herself. A sob caught
in her throat. Stifling it, she kept her resolve to stay strong for the girls. Mind you they
seemed to be handling it rather well considering. Youth handled loss so much easier.
Sylvie sighed, wiped a tear away and followed the girls to the cemetery’s gates. Briefly she
looked back at the mound of dirt where John now lay. Peacefully she hoped.
‘Are you okay Mum?’ her eldest Harriet looked concerned. Sylvie nodded and climbed into
the sleek black car. Stroking the fine leather upholstery, she mused how much John would
have oohed and aahed over it.
Arriving back at the house, they found family, friends and neighbours milling about in the
kitchen and lounge. Jean, the housekeeper who cared for the family for decades had
allowed them entry and was already feeding them and pouring tea, coffee, sherry, wine and
whatever else they desired in an effort to ease their grief.
Harriet gave Sylvie a reassuring hug as they watched Emma and Chloe greet the crowd
gathered with their best hosting skills taught over the years by Sylvie. All was not in vain
then Sylvie thought. The pain in the pit of her stomach just wouldn’t go away, no matter
how many deep breaths she took, or forced smiles she gave. When would she begin to feel
normal again? Would she ever feel normal again?
John and Sylvie had been childhood sweethearts. A quaint old fashioned title for kids who
enjoyed each other’s company Sylvie thought. Their relationship continued and grew into a much deeper partnership over the years, so by the time they were twenty, they knew there was no one else for either of them and announced their engagement. Six months later they married in the local church, from where John was farewelled today Sylvie remembered with a shiver.
‘Are you sure you are okay Mum?’ Harriet asked again. Sylvie nodded and managed a faint
smile as Chloe pushed a glass of wine into her hand.

Three little girls were born over the next and happiest six years of John and Sylvie’s lives.
They bought this house, renovated it, created a child friendly garden out the back, and filled their days taking the girls to the zoo, parks and holidays at the beach in between work and school. They had a purpose. They were together raising their girls, living life, preparing for their retirement. Together.
Today, after saying goodbye to John for the last time, Sylvie was devastated to realise she
had no purpose without her life partner. The thread of her life had been severed. The main
thread that for so long, seamlessly kept them all together, happy and proud to be a family
unit was broken. What would she do now without that thread? Sylvie could feel the pieces of her life breaking off and falling away bit by bit, chunk by chunk already.
Harriet was married with her own family now. She had a fine husband, two gorgeous boys
and a busy career. Emma was a successful young doctor who liked to take jobs overseas to
further her experience in both medicine and life. Chloe, their youngest, was an IT expert
with her own business now flourishing in the small unit she rented on the beach. A keen
surfer Chloe spent her free time in the water with her likeminded friends.
They were parts of Sylvie’s life that had already left the family home, but kept close in the
family circle as if by a piece of elastic thread thanks to John’s insistence they all return
home for the major events in life such as Christmas, Easter, and where possible birthdays.
Would they continue to keep up this tradition now he was gone to them forever?
Days passed by in a blur for Sylvie. She felt no real purpose in her life without John. Her
part time job had been put on hold when her boss thoughtfully suggested she take time off
to cope with the loss and sadness. Each morning Sylvie got out of bed and made her cup of
tea which she then took back to bed. An avid reader, Sylvie always enjoyed reading for an
hour or so both morning and night in the sanctity of her bed. It was a habit she had insisted on keeping when the girls were young for the sake of her sanity.
As before she spent time with friends. She went for walks with the dog Buddy twice a day,
for something to do more than for the health of their aging blue heeler. Each day she heard and thought of things to share with John before she remembered he was not at home to laugh with her or shake his head in the same frustration she felt. At the end of each day Sylvie felt sadder and lonelier than she could ever remember feeling. She was half a partnership, half a woman and it didn’t sit well with her at all.

The crunch came on the day Sylvie checked the bank account and found both John’s
superannuation and life insurance had been paid in, giving her a very healthy sum of money to plan her future with. What future she asked herself? As far as she was concerned there was no future for her now without the love of her life by her side.
At a loss as to how to overcome her present emotional state, Sylvie turned to her best
friend Julia. Friends since their school days, Julia was single again after divorcing her errant husband of almost thirty years. With her lump sum payout of the marriage involving the sale of the home, investment properties and a half share of the business, Julia was now a lady of leisure enjoying her new life in a swanky city apartment overlooking the river. If anyone would have some ideas as to what Sylvie could do to brighten her world it would be Julia.
Julia’s suggestion to sell the family home met with a firm no from Sylvie. She couldn’t do
that to her girls, not yet anyway. Instead they redecorated the rather dull, old and boring
interior of the house in Sylvie’s tastes. The result was a modern, colourful, comfortable
place to live.
Julia’s next suggestion of travel met with a firm no from Sylvie also. She and John had
intended to travel Europe and America on his retirement, but that day didn’t eventuate
before his heart gave out on him unexpectedly.
Joining clubs, taking up golf or bowls were suggestions met with howls of laughter from
Sylvie. Absolutely not her thing she protested. The laughter made her feel a little brighter
though. The women decided to sleep on it for a few days and see what they could come up
with. Sylvie was now back at work and not enjoying it in spite of the new wardrobe Julia
insisted she treat herself to. Joining a gym crossed Sylvie’s mind as Buddy was too old and
tired these days to want to go for walks. His days and nights were spent snoring in his cosy
That was it! Sylvie was flabbergasted at her own idea and wondered if the loneliness and
frustration of the situation was cooking her brain. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea and decided to set it in motion.
A few days later she arrived at Julia’s apartment carrying a little bundle of white fluff in a
special carry bag. Sylvie visited a dog breeder a few days before, and bought an adorable
little Westie puppy called Sasha. She was lucky to get her only because Sacha was the
smallest of the litter and hadn’t yet sold.

Sylvie buzzed Julia’s apartment in the luxurious lobby. Julia was thrilled to see her and she
asked ‘To what do I owe this wonderful surprise visit?’
Sylvie thrust the carry bag in her friend’s arms and said, ‘I think I have found the answer to mending my broken life thread.’ Little Sasha was overjoyed to be the centre of attention
and pranced around Julia’s expensively furnished lounge.
Both ladies were delighted with the pup’s antics and hugged each other. This little bundle of joy would give Sylvie a purpose in life,
The smile on her face was the living proof that any broken thread can be repaired with love.


Little Bleeder

Well the past fortnight has been a night mare in some ways, but in others it was a success where I got to walk with assistance a few times, and have made some very firm friends with the nursing and rehab staff.

Everyone was shocked and rather  scared last Thursday when suddenly I started passing a lot of blood. Not in the urine,but what I thought was bowel movements, was actually a huge bleed happening. That evening I was taken to A & E downstairs in Maryborough for blood transfusions and platelets. The same ‘argument’ ensued with the head doctor there about whether I should have treatment or just go home and kark it. I’m not sure if they take this route to save themselves work and possible legal action, or do they just think I want to give up? They soon found out believe me! Tim was furious and stormed at them about their attitude compared to our wishes. Our Health Directive was revised..I wasn’t aware they had one for me here in Maryborough.

Later, I was transferred to Hervey Bay ED. The surgeon I saw, Christina, explained what she thought the bleeding might be, and sent me off for the CT scans. The scans failed to show any active bleed which sounded rather hopeful to us. Apart from my counts hitting rock bottom, I felt okay.

Christina’s boss, a very tall, serious looking Indian gent arrived to tell me I was not well enough for any procedures to be done…he suggested I have an endoscopy scope done with no sedative. He said I could swallow the scope. That idea was shot down in flames by me before it could even take shape in anyone’s mind. I told Mr India I would let him know in the morning.

So morning came and I had the long discussion with the  team of surgeons. Quentin was good at explaining it all and he was a happy and positive guy. I like him. I decided to take the risk and have the scopes done under a light sedative. They found ulcers. A duodenal ulcer that is obviously a fallout thing from the chemo, and a smaller esophageal ulcer which can be fixed with a good drug. So, all in all I have been once again very lucky, and now it’s time for me to get back to my rehab workouts and on the way to independence once more.

The Maryborough staff keep asking after me and are looking forward to having me back with them, and that is comforting.

Yesterday, while talking to Karen from palliative care, we mentioned the garden area I was allowed to sit in with Mary and Adrian, the day before the bleed happened. Karen said we could have Daisy there to visit and pretty sure they would let her on the ward as well to visit and entertain. It would be a while before I’d consider her on the ward, but the garden idea sounds good to me. I can’t wait to be able to see her.

Now of course, it’s the waiting game for a place in rehab in Maryborough. In the short time I’ve been away, at least 15 people have applied to be accepted in the rehab ward.

Here is the second chapter of my WIP. Hope you all still hope it is worth a read.

cat reading 12

Chapter 2:

With their coffees in front of them, coats now draped over the back of their chairs because of the warmth of the open fire place in the coffee shop. It was a favourite haunt of Meryl’s. It was part of a bakery, and the delicious aromas of the cakes and buns as well as the freshly baked bread, wafted through to the coffee lounge. Meryl’s stomach rumbled but she dismissed it. She would never lose weight if she indulged in the tempting goodies. The shop had a homeliness she found comforting and inviting, as well as relaxing, and just what she needed at times during her stressful days

Not every day was stressful she admitted to herself, and she enjoyed her job on the whole. Some days though there was a story of complete sadness or hopelessness to write and she found it drained her emotionally much sooner these days. Age and life experience seemed to do this to most she found.

Mr. Ducar took a deep breath and smiled. ‘Shall I begin?’ he asked.

Please do Mr. Ducar. I’m looking forward to hearing your story.’

‘I’d prefer if you called me John,’ she nodded in response and replied he must call her Meryl.

‘Right,’ he seemed to be gearing himself up to tell the story.

‘Every year at dusk on May twenty-fourth, I meet the woman I love, and have always loved, at the rotunda in the park near the hospital. Do you know it?’

Meryl nodded in acknowledgement.

‘It’s the only time and chance we have to be together,’ he continued.

Meryl inclined her head with unasked questions.

‘Once a year,’ she said. ‘So not your wife? Perhaps someone else’s wife?’ she ventured. ‘Why would you want this story told to every man and his dog in this small town? They will know immediately who the story is about surely?’ she said.

It was part of her job to be curious, but he had aroused her curiosity with just a short statement. She thought that perhaps this would arouse the interest and curiosity of her readers just as quickly. Looking at her watch she said, ‘Tomorrow is the twenty-fourth.’

He nodded. ‘Susan and I have been meeting each year on that date at the rotunda for fifty years now,’ he smiled. ‘We have never missed a year.’

Fifty years! Meryl was just thirty-five. Doing some quick math, she figured they must be in their seventies by now or close to them at least.

She looked at John Ducar with renewed interest. Imagine loving someone for fifty years and not being able to be with them every day.

Just one day a year.

He looked fit and healthy with a full head of silver grey hair, blue eyes, handsome face. Perhaps he was one of the lucky ones who had aged well. Men always aged well and became distinguished, whereas women aged well and if lucky became graceful grey haired ladies with kind faces and pretty smiles. It is such an unbalanced world, she thought ruefully.

Sipping his coffee, he eyed her over the rim of his cup. Those eyes of his, she thought, would have gotten the girls in when he was younger. Strong good looks, black hair, lightly tanned skin and those eyes. She sighed again.

It was impossible to picture him as a young dashing man because every time she tried, an image of her father pushed its way into view. He was a handsome man in his day and the women swooned over him, to this day. Meryl reflected how patient her mother must be to have put up with it so calmly all these years. Whenever they were out for dinner, shopping or on holiday, women would almost fall over their own feet to get to her father’s side.

Her mobile’s loud ring broke the moment and John Ducar visibly shrank from the table. Muttering her apologies Meryl answered.

‘What forms?’ she asked. Her secretary was on the other end of the line spluttering about forms of some kind but Meryl’s mind was too full of John’s story at the moment to comprehend what Jenny was on about.

The forms were approvals of the advertisements that were to appear in tomorrow’s edition and needed to be signed off by the editor. Just another tiresome task in Meryl’s day. She promised she would be back in the office in a few minutes’ time to sort all the approvals out.

‘They have to be with the printers by three don’t forget,’ admonished Jenny.

On hearing the snippets of the phone conversation, John rose and pulled on his coat and scarf.

‘I’d like to hear your story John, but work is calling me back to the computer and my desk. I’m sorry. Can we make it another time soon?’ she smiled hoping he would not be offended with having their little chat cut off so abruptly.

‘That’s okay,’ John nodded. ‘My timing seems to be a little off. You’ve been very generous in listening to an old man’s story thus far and I appreciate it. It has been nice talking to you Meryl.’

As he walked outside, Meryl felt tongue tied. She wanted to call him back but she was now thinking of all the other things she had to do before this week’s paper went to print. Darn it she cursed as she put on her coat and wrapped her scarf around her neck. She would try to catch up with him and make another firm time.

It was then she noticed he had left his brief case behind, where it had been nudged under the table almost out of sight. She grabbed the worn handle and turned to call him back. He was on the pavement and could not hear her call his name once the bakery doors closed behind him. She rushed to catch him.

Unfortunately, by the time she made it to the door after dodging around eager customers wanting to purchase some of those goodies, John Ducar was driving off in a sleek silver car.

Meryl had no phone number or address to follow up. She had no clue as to where he lived. Besides that, she really needed to hear the rest of his story before making a decision as to whether she could print it in the paper or not. What about Susan? The woman he met each year. Would she mind having her story told to everyone in the town and district? Meryl shook her head in frustration and headed back for her office.

With a firm grip of the brief case Meryl felt sure he would realise his mistake and make his way back to the bakery or her office to locate it. It was heavy and by the time she reached her office, she was happy to put it on the floor behind her desk, safe for the night, while she worked.


Happy Australia Day to everyone. This day always sees the closet Republicans crawl out of the woodwork. I have always loved the Queen and the Royal family…all except Camilla that is.Even Fergie doesn’t annoy me as much as Horse-face Witch.

I honestly believe it would be more respectful i we didn’t go on about dumping the Royal family, until the Queen passes on. If Camilla is going to be Queen Consort or whatever title they can come up with, believe me, I will be one of the first to opt for a republic…till then, let’s back off.




I’m not a guinea pig or experiment


I arrived here on Monday. Felt pretty crappy due to the kennel cough and general weakness. I knew the day would be as assessment day by the doctors and the physios so was prepared for a few tests, lots of questions etc. I lost count of the number of doctors who slunk around my bed taking blood, and pouring over my charts. By the next day, I felt exhausted and had more bruises than I knew what to do with.

Tim had to go to Melbourne on bizz, left Monday till Wednesday. I felt rather alone because of the doctors’ being so intent on finding something else wrong with me.

The last straw was Tuesday night. The nurse manager came to say there was a particular test they wanted done as they thought my heart had done something strange. She told how she had a row with a doctor from  ED  who was supposed to do the test but abused her instead, saying he was too busy. The test was taken and it didn’t hurt too much. About an hour later, a huge hulk from Zimbabwe arrived saying he would take blood for this test. I told him it had been done already. He grabbed my hand roughly which hurt because of his gloves, and shoved a needle into the back of my hand near the thumb. By God it hurt! I told him to take it out but he pushed on the needle even more. By this time I was crying in agony. Finally he was done and a nurse had arrived to make sure I was ok. He didn’t seem to know what to do with the blood so the nurse did it for him. He was so rude, and I told him never to come back in my room again.He came to my door yesterday but TJ my protective Afrikaans nurse was here in no time, to see him off. TJ did the same to Tim last night as he had not seen him before. It’s nice to know there are people watching out for me.

Yesterday was more peaceful as the doctors stayed away from me. The paramedics took me to St Stephen’s Private Hospital for scans….results yet to come. The heat outside and the sunshine was wonderful to feel after freezing in the air cond of this room. It’s ridiculously cold.


Last night the doctors insisted I have oxygen. I slept well, but this morning my nose was sore and bleeding so I took it out. Executive decisions I have been making lately.

All these terrible stories and accusations against Rolf Harris really have my head reeling. The brother of my first husband was a neighbour of Rolf’s parents in Bassendean. We visited one day because the BIL wanted ex to help do something for old Mr Harris. Mrs Harris was a sweet little lady who made an elaborate tea for us… best china, scones that melted in your mouth, and Fanta for the kids. While chatting in her cosy kitchen which looked out to the Swan River, there was a commotion at their front door. Rolf and his brother had arrived along with Rolf’s daughter who was probably about 15 at the time. She was very aloof and ignored everyone. Not once did I feel my daughter was in any danger, nor my son. He was polite and pleasant to us all. I don’t doubt the charges, I just find them to be mind blowing!


As I remember him. Perhaps he was still a decent man till later?



Until next blog, take care, be kind and keep smiling.

Bed Pans…..


I would doubt that any of us enjoy having to use bed pans when ill. Men are a little luckier to be able to use those bottles….they seem much easier to handle with less spillage. I suppose though they are just as awkward for those of us who would like to retain our dignity.

As you all know, I was so looking forward to beginning rehab today, but instead it was a kind of assessment day…..which is okay of course and necessary for the doctors and nurses who have taken over my care. My main concern is that although most of the doctors are good and know what they are doing, some of them like the last guy to see me tonight, like to hang on to patients like myself, (compliant, cheerful, ready to help and assist with background information and so on), and rehab is not going to be as in depth or as useful as I’d hoped. Tonight, while talking to one of my best friends for many years, Marion….we agreed if things don’t improve the way I want it to go here, I may as well go home with home care and have the two lovely girls from OT visit and help build my muscles that way. At least I would not have to put up with being jabbed every half hour with needles for some strange blood test yet again. At last count, I have had 6 jabs for tests as well as the cannula…and my fragile worn out skin is over it!


People don’t realise how fragile and tender one’s skin becomes…especially when techno coloured with bruises and jabs from their needles for some experimental reason which probably has nothing to do with my personal health or care. He is very arrogant and doing me no favours in my opinion.

Tomorrow or the next day, I might ring Karen or Kathy from palliative and run it by them. I am sure I stand a better chance of improving this way than by dreading having another leering doctor come in for a test jab for some incredible groundbreaking idea he/she has come up with.

No doubt I am being harsh in my judgement of these doctors, but I trust only a few these days. Anyway enough about these worries of mine…I am as positive and determined as ever. I intend to live for years yet and need to be able to go home to build up that strength.



My current WIP….what do you think?


Meet me at the Rotunda.

By Jo Skehan.



Chapter 1:

The grey haired man had been standing at her office door for some time before she realised he was there. Meryl just looked up to find him there. He didn’t knock; he didn’t ask for her at the reception desk; he didn’t speak to anyone about why he was in the building or asked directions as to which office was hers. No, he had simply walked down the hallway from the reception area until he found her, as if he knew his way around the place, and then he stood there, quietly, patiently waiting to be acknowledged.

Feeling a slight sense of annoyance about being disturbed on what was a busy day for her, Meryl kept sorting papers on her desk as she asked ‘Yes?’

‘Forgive the interruption and my unannounced arrival at your door, but I have something that may be of interest to you’, he smiled.

‘Look, I’m sorry, but I’m really busy today. Could you make an appointment for another time?’ Meryl kept reading the printout of a page proof and entering her corrections into the computer on the edge of her desk. She didn’t wish to appear rude, but she had a lot of work to do, and like all newspaper businesses, there were deadlines to stick to. What did he think, coming in out of the blue and then expecting to be able to waffle on about whatever it was he thought might be of interest to her?

The elderly gentleman smiled but replied, ‘No, I’m afraid not.’

She glanced up at him. He was wearing a light linen jacket and smart well ironed pants, and carried a very worn but expensive and well-made leather briefcase. Was he one of the guys from another department? She wasn’t sure, but half smiled and returned to looking at the proof work.

‘I’ll only take a minute of your time’, he went on. ‘You are Meryl Jenka aren’t you?’

She nodded and sighed. She wished he would just go elsewhere and leave her in peace. What the hell did he want?

‘I have a story I reckon you’d like to know about. Something you could publish in your newspaper in the human interest section if you like,’ he said.

It was as she had suspected. She sighed. Since she took the job as editor of the local free paper, The Free Press, she often had locals coming to her office to suggest a story they considered important and of general interest to be included. Stories like someone’s lost wedding rings suddenly being found in a garden by a new house owner; a missing dog returned to his family after ten or more years; a child saved by his dog/big brother/uncle from drowning or falling off one of the nearby cliffs. This was probably another one.

‘You might like to speak to one of the reporters,’ she suggested with a smile. ‘I’ll just ring to see if Roberta is still in her office….’

‘No,’ the man interrupted her.

Meryl left her hand on the phone and glanced up at him.

‘It’s a story that needs to be written by someone who can really write. This story needs to be written by you,’ he continued. ‘Maybe if I told you some of the story you could then take a bit of time to decide. Just a few minutes of your time to listen. Please.’

Meryl looked at her computer. The cursor was blinking at her; the grey haired man was still standing in the doorway waiting for a reply.

‘Can you give me the gist of the story in a very short sentence or two?’ she asked.

He nodded. ‘It’s a love story,’ he said.

‘Well I guess we could use more of those in this world,’ Meryl sighed. ‘A feel good story might be just what I need too. Let’s have a coffee and you can tell me a bit about your story, Mr.….’ Meryl smiled at the man who seemed to relax a little.

‘I’m sorry for not introducing myself earlier. My name is John Ducar and it’s my own story. It’s about myself.’

Meryl frowned and shook her head slightly. ‘Should I know you Mr. Ducar?’

He smiled and pushed away from the door jamb. ‘Not really,’ he said. ‘It’s just that the name sometimes used to get a reaction around here.’ He stood up straighter to his full height. ‘I’ll make this quick,’ he promised.

‘Okay, let’s go to the coffee shop next door. I’m all ears,’ she laughed.

More to come in the next few days. Feedback is welcome.






I’ve over done it again. I need to pace it.


Last night was not good for me, but I had over done it all again. I enjoyed a few visitors, family and Palliative care people who all wanted a chat. By 7 pm I was exhausted. The night was rough for me, and the annoying ‘kennel’ cough as I call it, wore me out. By 4 am I was no good for anyone. It has taken me most of today to recover, and I’m much better now. Hoping for a good day tomorrow where I’ll be able to walk to the foyer and sit in the sun.

Below are some of my memories again. I hope I don’t bore you all rigid.


Above… my Uncle Greg and Uncle Jim…the most gentle and caring men I have met.

My three bachelor uncles, Greg, Joe and Sonny all lived and worked on the farm which, over the years as Grandfather bought adjoining farms, had become the biggest dairy and cattle property in the region. The boys remained single in spite of there being plenty of girls who showed a keen interest in them wherever they went.

Uncle Greg was the horseman and took care of the beef cattle side of things. This included trips to the monthly stock sales held in various yards dotted around the State. This meant quite a bit of travel for Uncle Greg, sometimes with overnight stays. He was not willing to miss out on a purchase of a top grade bull that would pay for itself hundreds of times over in the production of fine offspring. Usually there would be calves, steers and at times young colts to sell; his livestock was well known for their high quality and rarely failed to fetch good prices.

He was my favourite uncle. The eldest of the family, he had served in the Second World War in New Guinea long before I was born. His hair had turned from a shiny black to a silvery white during that time; on his return from war, Gran didn’t recognise him as he ran down the gang plank to where she and Grandfather were waiting for their boys’ return. They had two sons-in-law to welcome home also. Malaria plagued him for years afterwards. The sight of his sweating but shivering body was upsetting for me and I wished many times I could make him better. Unbeknown to the family at the time, he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Syndrome also. In hindsight, I can recognise the symptoms of stress and anxiety causing severe headaches and the longing to be alone for long periods of time.

His time at war had been cruel fighting the Japanese who invaded New Guinea in the quest to take over the northern Pacific and eventually Australia. Uncle Greg was in charge of a platoon assisted by the natives through the jungles and mountains. Most of his platoon was killed in front of his eyes and being the kind soul he always was, it proved to be too much for him to comprehend and accept.

On the days he had to succumb to his bed for rest, I carried iced water and light snacks every few hours to his cottage. The uncles lived in a small cottage on the property, a short walk from the main house. They shared breakfasts and dinner at the house with everyone else, but their lunch was usually either a packed lunch with enamel mugs and a Billy tea can, or they prepared their own in the cottage.

Tea was everywhere in Gran’s home, as it was in ours too. It was deemed the great healer of all ailments and woes. If someone cut a finger, a pot of tea would be brewed; if someone died the first thing to be seen to was the pot of tea. My uncles all drank big mugs of the life-restoring nectar, sweetened with generous spoonfuls of sugar and whitened with creamy milk. From the first day I was finally allowed my own cup of tea, I preferred with neither sugar nor milk, and still do.

The Billy tea can was an excitement for my cousins and me. We were not allowed tea or coffee, except when out in the paddocks with our uncles helping with the crops or rounding up cattle for branding or dipping. An open camp fire was built in a cleared area, and the Billy can hung from sturdy sticks stretching across the flame. Once boiling a handful of tea leaves were thrown into the Billy can. One of our uncles would then swing the can around in a wide arc to brew the tea. Tea has never tasted as good to me as it did in those beaten up enamel mugs sitting round the fire in all types of weather. Usually hot and humid weather but the heat didn’t seem to bother us.

A treat often enjoyed was when Uncle Joe brought along some damper dough wrapped in wet calico. Rocks were placed in the fire and as soon as they were hot enough the damper was placed on them, covered with leaves and branches and left to cook. A large pat of Gran’s homemade butter was the finishing culinary touch for us, spread liberally on a chunk of damper broken off while steaming hot. One of the best smoko foods anyone on the land can wish for!cat art on fence

I recently found this newspaper report of my parents’ wedding. Sounds very pretty to me.

Mount Larcom Wedding
A pretty wedding was celebrated at
Fix this textAll Saints’ Church of England, Mt Larcom
when Neva Ursula Elwyn, eldest daughter
of Mr and Mrs J. Schafer,
Boongara, Mt Larcom was married to
William Charles, eldest son of Mr and
Mrs F. Prestwood, Rocklea, Mt Larcom.
The Rt Rev. Bishop Ash, of Rockhampton
officiated and Mrs O. V. Bliss
presided at the organ.
The church was appropriately decorated
for the occasion by friends of the
bride and only intimate friends were
present at the ceremony. During the
signing of the register Mrs O. V. Bliss sang
The bride, who was given away by
her father, looked charming in an ivory
satin gown made on classical lines and
featuring a high cowl neckline, with
satin buttons and loops down the back
to the waist. The wrist-length sleeves
were finished with satin buttons and
loops at the cuff lines. The ankle-length
skirt extended back to form a train,
which had a true lover’s knot worked
in pearls. This was worn by the bride’s
aunt (Mrs J. Marles, of Gayndah), 26
years ago. She also wore the traditional
spray of orange blossoms. Her beautiful
veil of white tulle was arranged with
a halo of orange blossoms and she car-
ried a bouquet of arum lilies and roses
arranged with puffed tulle. She was at-
tended by her sister, Miss Evelyn
Schafer, who was frocked in pink satin,
featuring the new shoulder lines of fine
shirring with a V neckline and short
puffed sleeves. The skirt was cut on
classical lines and fell in a full flare,
and she wore a pink tulle veil, held in
position with a halo of pink lilies. She
carried a bouquet of pink sweetpeas
and fern tied with pink satin ribbon.
Little Bernice Schafer (sister of the
bride) acted as train bearer.
The bridegroom’s gift to the bride
was an xylonite boudoir clock. The
bride’s gift to the bridegroom was a set
of chromium military hair brushes, and
to the bridesmaid, a gold dress ring.
Mr Roy Woodman acted as best man.
As the bridal couple left the church
to the strains of the ” Wedding March,”
little Del Schafer (sister of the bride)
presented the bride with a silver horse-
The bride’s mother (Mrs J. Schafer)
chose a pretty royal blue cellophane
striped moracain frock featuring fine
pin-tucking, and her hat and accessor-
ies were of a matching shade of blue.
She carried a bouquet of autumn flowers
and fern.
Mrs F. Prestwood (mother of the
bridegroom) chose a pretty frock of
brown satin-backed crepe, featuring
shirring on the shoulders. Her hat and
accessories were of a matching shade,
and she carried a bouquet of autumn
tinted flowers and fern.
The wedding breakfast was held at
Levonin Bros’ Cafe, where the decorations
were carried out in pink and
white and the customary toasts were
honoured. The beautiful three-tiered
wedding cake was the gift of the bride’s
The bride and bridegroom left by car
for Bundaberg, where they will reside.
The bride travelled in a smart frock of
navy Gloria silk with navy accessories
to tone.


wedding  mum-and-grandfather

Till next time…..I hope this doesn’t bore you all. Goodnight, much love and big hugs. Here’s to a better day tomorrow.

cat sleeping



Hervey Bay/Maryborough


After the trauma and anti climax of arriving from Brisbane, we settled as much as possible to the local routine.

You can imagine that after being told it could be days before a room would be available, the utter shock and excitement was immense when a nurse walked into the room to announce the paramedics would arrive in ten minutes’ time to take me to Maryborough. Happy tears indeed. Tim and I were so happy and pleased.

The paramedics Graeme & Danielle were great and we agreed masks were in order as the gent from the surgical ward had a rattly cough….it turned out he has pneumonia. Lucky escape for me.

The entire staff here was wonderful, helpful and caring.

This morning the busy line-up began. Dr Truscott and his partner Dan spent a long time asking questions while assessing my current condition.

Followed by the OT people, rehab, physio, nurses learning to change the dressing on my PICC, obsessed Nazi ward assistants who wanted every poor patient out of bed and sitting up for most of the day which wore them out. It was a long day, and yet again I am exhausted. There was no let up….no rest.

This morning I woke feeling rather ill and wasn’t sure why. After a long chat with one of doctors here it was agreed that most of the medication I’ve been taking, is now unnecessary and possibly playing havoc with my gut etc. The PICC line is going to go… wasn’t supposed to go at first but after watching the staff here change the dressing, I decided it was best to remove it. Still waiting for them to do it, but we can’t rush these things. My Brisbane nurses would be horrified if they saw the betadine soaked dressing on my arm.


I slept most of the day then tried to walk to the bathroom for a shower. I have very little strength in my legs at the moment so it’s not easy. But I will get there. I was told I’d be transferred to rehab today, but I think my being off colour made them decide to wait till Monday. More time here to exercise these lead legs in bed. The cold numbness of my feet is awful but the heat pads are very helpful.


A memory…….

My first memory is of me at three years of age, sitting on the front steps and hearing my mother’s quiet voice calling me to the sewing room of our house in town.

Calmly sitting on her chair in front of her treadle Singer Sewing Machine, holding the fabric she’d been stitching tightly trying to stem the blood flow that threatened to ruin the entire garment.

My mother leaned down and told me very clearly with a no-nonsense tone that I was to go to the corner shop (about two doors away) and ask the ‘nice lady’ to come and help Mummy. Once I arrived at the shop and gave my garbled request I have no memory of what happened afterwards. My mother’s finger was successfully sewn to the fabric of a dress for my elder sister, and the needle was stuck to the base of the machine.

Mother possessed an amazing talent for dress design and tailoring. Self-taught, she could look at a picture in a magazine or a dress hanging in a shop window, then return home and produce the exact garment. Sometimes she was lucky enough to acquire the same fabric, but if not Mother’s creation was always pretty darned close to the original.

Unfortunately, nether of my two sisters nor myself inherited her skills. Later as a mother of a little girl, I taught myself how to follow a pattern and later still how to draft my own. I was taught how to knit by my father who hand knitted my school cardigans and pullovers. He made woollen rugs too with the needle pull method but his best talents were with turning a piece of wood into something fantastic. By rights, with such promising genes, I should have been very creative and talented. My sisters were skillful crochet and embroidery artists, the eldest was an accomplished lace maker and did a lot of tatting also.

Until I was seven, I was my mother’s shadow. She lived life to the fullest in spite of often being ill. If there was a committee needing a chairwoman or member, my mum volunteered happily. The food for dances held often by the school my older sisters attended to raise funds for books and equipment, was donated and prepared by my mother. She was a loving, capable, friendly, compassionate lady and I adored her.

As President of the local CWA, Mum was to attend a three day conference in Cairns and intended to travel by train. I was to stay at home with my father. I was three or four. The morning of my mother’s departure. I got up at the crack of dawn, packed a little bag with my favourite Teddy and a pair of socks and waited at the kitchen table for her. Laughing, she packed a proper bag for me including a pack of fresh vegemite sandwiches,and we left together for the ten hour train journey. I drew many Xs in red on the note she left on the table for my father. In my young mind the kisses were my way of saying sorry for not staying at home with him after all.

The women at the conference fascinated me. All very beautiful and well-groomed in pastel coloured suits or ensembles, complete with matching hat, gloves, bag and shoes. They were the epitome of womanhood of the 1950s. All very friendly, confident and proud to be wives, mothers and members of the CWA. There was no country bumpkin in that group.

I was the only child there, but they didn’t hear a peep from me during their speeches or presentations. I had been taught how to behave in public by my mother, grandmother and aunts, from babyhood so the idea of yelling out in protest was more foreign to me than the friendly Chinese fruit and vegetable vendors in Cairns’ main shopping precinct.

The Lady President was a joy to behold in my opinion, in her pretty outfits which were different each day and sometimes even after lunch. On the third day I could not hold back any longer and whispered to Mother that the President looked like the Queen.

Mother related my comments to her, of course. She smiled and kneeled down in front of me, took my face in her gloved hands and said, ‘You can be my Princess!’ I sat up on the stage on a huge and very high red velvet chair with the Lady President that afternoon, swinging my feet clad in black patent leather shoes. I did indeed feel like a Princess.

finished my book


Much love and big hugs to you all. The Pavlova made so perfectly by Mary was delish….wish I could have shared it!!!



The excitement…the anti climax


I was informed late on the Thursday I would be flown to Hervey Bay in a brand new jet from USA, that night. The excitement was immense for myself and the nurses. Right on 5pm the wards man arrived to take me to the RBWH transit lounge where the paramedics would arrive for the transfer to Brissie airport. Tim and I were thrilled.

Sure enough two lovely young paramedics arrived and smoothly wheeled me out to the waiting van. Slow trip via the tunnel to the Brisbane RFDS base. The pilots were excited too and showed me the jet as much as they could while strapped down to a comfy stretcher bed. Gordon, the young paramedic who travelled in the back of the van with me from the hospital chatted about politics etc.while we waited  for the jet to be ready for takeoff.

Another female was loaded on…she was returning from intensive treatment after a near death car accident here in the bay. Miriam was our nurse…very nice young lady.

At last we left about 7.30 pm….so smooth. So exciting. I snoozed though and enjoyed the flight.

On arrival at the Bay airport, an ambulance van waited for us. Soon wheeled in but the girl had to be taken to the loo by Miriam first. A polite young guy told me she had to go to Maryborough and me to the Bay hospital. Then it went downhill.


An older paramedic plonked himself in the comfy carer’s chair between and proceeded to ask the younger patient many questions……but as he did so, he caressed her scars including those on her thigh. I was shocked for a while at the blatant actions of this man. Far too creepy for me. I held his hand as he put his on the lump of my previously broken arm, saying his hand could warm my frozen one trying to keep his from wandering on the younger woman. He looked so smug. She looked a tad uncomfortable but didn’t say anything.

As they wheeled me into the ward I wondered what was happening now he was alone with her in the van. I told my story to the nurses and my paramedic as they put me to bed etc….the nurses were horrified….the p’medic admitted sometimes this guy could go a bit too far. I lodged a complaint next day because sleep was out of the question that night for me and I eventually woke up exhausted, upset and feeling downright ill. When they spoke to this patient she said she was okay with his actions as he was just being comforting and gave her a hug. Ugh!! Naive I think. Anyway it’s in the hands of those who can action things…I don’t want anyone sacked, but this behaviour is not accepted in other States and should not be tolerated here either.

So that really ruined the homecoming and I spent a lot of time crying about it all and wearing myself out.

Now of course it’s the waiting game again before I get to Maryborough. To get a room for further assessment and rehab at the care unit pictured below. One of the drugs I take has seriously downgraded my muscle tone in the legs and that has to be rectified. I’ve also opted not to take as many painkillers. I don’t need them all the time and the sleepiness was doing my head in.



It is lovely being able to see Mary and Adrian and Steven often. It’s a 25 min drive from Maryborough which is great compared to 3 1/2 hours.

I have asked for my transfer to Maryborough to be fast tracked if possible. Couple of days. No TV in the room at all……but the best part is the food is prepared here in-house and is so good. I have been happily surprised with the meals offered, and the Beef Broth is wonderful!

The nurses are different to the girls who were part of my ‘room family’ in Brisbane, but most of them are great.

My rehab begins tomorrow but in the meantime I’ve had dosages reduced, and have been doing exercises with my legs in bed as suggested by the physio. The worst is my left arm where I broke it. It’s pretty useless.

girls in sunshine

It will take time but I’ll get there.

Till next time much love and big hugs xxxx.


Waiting for my celeb flight to Hervey Bay.


I’m being a patient patient and happy to wait my turn. One of my doctors is annoyed about the delays but that is the way it goes. Maybe tomorrow.bread-cart

The same doctor, Kathryn suggested we buy another bead maker for Adrian to create wonders….He has done the research, the buying and has a loaf ready….we aren’t there to enjoy though. What a bummer. I remember a bread man like this one walking round the streets of Urangan where my Mother’s aunt lived. Followed about a half later by the ice block guy. Narnie had a fridge though…run on kerosene. But the ice block helped on the sweltering days.

Narnie was an interesting lady. Her fingers were pretty crippled with arthritis….Arthur-itis as she always called it. She must have hated someone called Arthur I think. We had a family friend called Arthur Debritz who was a man of many uniforms….Army, Police and Ambulance and even at the tender age of 5 I knew he was a looker. He’d had his eye on my aunt Evelyn who spent her teen years in the voluntary girl’s farming army etc. He also was fond of my mother who was a good looker back then too. He was happily married for years to a lovely lady so all was well there.

When my grandparents came to Queensland, Narnie and Jim Marles tagged along. Narnie had no children and claimed my Mother as hers……she called her Girlie. I became Little Girl to my uncles who were the best uncles possible in my view. Gran had 13 pregnancies, 8 survivors. It was a tough life but they did well on the farms.

Uncle Jim had orchards in Gayndah and Grandfather snavvled land for dairy, beef, pork etc etc. in Mt Larcom north of the citrus country. The farm was huge and supported 3 sons (all bachelors) and 5 daughters until they all were married off. What a life!

Uncle Jim had a nervous breakdown and spent months in the hospital. He could see Narnie’s house but trusted no man….she was instructed to hang her quilt over the veranda each morning so he knew if she was ok or not. The doctor treating Uncle Jim took a fancy to Narnie (real name Georgina), and one morning after a glorious early visit from this doctor, Narnie forgot the bloody quilt. All hell broke loose I’ve been told – I wasn’t born then – and he raced down the hill with a rifle. Rifles were usually propped by doorways back then for snake shooting and the local folk weren’t too slow in helping themselves to whatever in homes etc. Not sure what happened but I was told the affair carried on for some years until the Marles couple moved to Hervey Bay where they both lived out their lives.


Till the next memory pops up, keep smiling. Much love and big hugs. xxxxxx