I have been away for just over a week, I flew out to Broken Hill as the distance is too great to drive alone. I stayed with one son and together we drove for seven hours to visit my other son and his family. This is the only way I have managed to do that trip. I stayed with my younger son at a time when he had his daughter on access, we had a few fun days and then she got sick and we had two unhappy days with her. That is life when you have a pre-schooler and he always says he loves her anyway. I do too. It was sad to see her so down and droopy but some antibiotics and a few days of rest and she was over it when she came back to her Dad again so I saw her happy again and she was well when I left there.
I love the silence of the outback town my younger son lives in, the noises are the noises of my youth, a dog barking, a plane flying overhead, children shouting as they play outdoor games. My small grand daughter plays soccer ( the round ball game) and it was fun watching her try to kick the ball at her Saturday "game", her team is an under-7s team, aged five to seven, and so had children large and small chasing up and down the field without a clue really as to what they were supposed to do. At the end of the game each coach picks a "special person" for a certificate and as it is shared around everyone gets one in the end. She had one a few weeks ago and told me she is the "best girl in the whole world". Ah to be young again and that full of confidence.
In small country towns the traffic noises are minimal. There is parking wherever you want to park and the shops are not crowded. The shopkeepers all have time for a little talk. This visit we went to some of the Art Galleries and I just loved the paintings with the sky influencing the light and a minimal approach to the surrounding landscape. As it is an outback town there are many people who are retired or semi-retired as there are cheap houses but unfortunately there is little work locally. Some love to paint the rugged scenery and the rolling red dust affected hills so plenty of art to ponder on. Some famous Australian artists have also settled there, or visit there often. I just love it as a slower paced place to live but the cold in winter and the extreme heat in summer can make for difficult conditions and some people cannot take the dust storms so the population stays low.
My older son lives in a city on the coast so it is certainly a contrast. The traffic is very noisy and the manners of the drivers sometimes leave a lot to be desired but we enjoyed the visit. My three grandchildren love their Uncle and tolerate their grandmother so lots of positive interaction. It makes such a difference to me when I am able to spend some time with my family. Older son's partner had a slight stroke in January so she and I did talk a good deal about that. As a long term caregiver for someone who had multiple strokes I find I have to soft pedal a bit on the less happy times in my former life as Ray's carer but she seemed to appreciate some of the input. We had a great day out on the Sunday and it was good to see my grandkids enjoying themselves. I wish we all lived closer together but we don't so we have to make the most of those times we can be together.
It is always hard coming home to an empty house but I have a busy week ahead of me so shouldn't be too bad this time. I am hoping this will have picked up my mood and as the days are getting longer and the temperature rising again I should be okay. I always find winter hard to get through and this year has been no exception. I did enjoy the sunshine in the outback, here on the coast we have a lot more overcast days and that is a problem as it keeps people inside and seems to make me feel more isolated. I need to get ready for Spring so maybe I will start Spring cleaning and that will fill in some time. Of course there are always times when I am away when I desperately wish Ray was there with me, I am sure my small grand daughter would have loved her Pa and learned to twist him around her little finger as she does her Dad.
I did a lot of thinking while I was away about again making an effort to make my home more my own. It is still in my mind the home of Ray and Sue as it was for forty four years. Hard to put that behind me even now after nearly five years. Of course I have made some small changes but still on the whole it is the same house. Time to look at changes I need to make now again. It is hard to even to think of taking some of the furniture away and replacing it with some more suitable to my shorter stature. It seems as if when I move furniture around it somehow alters the balance of the house and mostly I move it back into it's original position again. I don't know whether others feel the same way or if it is just me.
As it is the last month of winter and the days are slowly getting longer I should be able to get the garden back in shape again with some effort. It is mostly in pots so easy to move around into a slightly different configuration. I find working the soil suits me as I come from a long line of agricultural laborers one of whom ended up in Utah in the 1880s so that is a part of my heritage. Working outside is also good as it gives me a feeling of being surrounded by nature, hearing birds close by, audible even over the traffic noises. We do need rain though as July was one of the driest for a while and so hand watering is essential. That gives me plenty to do though and being a dry year makes it easier in a way as the pots are less heavy to move. Hoping that means a nicer look to the garden too.