Yesterday was my late brother Apollon’s birthday. The picture shows him and me in our 40s. He was intellectually disabled with severe epileptic seizures for which he wore a bicycle helmet at the workshop where he was during the day. He had 2 girlfriends who he danced with in the lunch breaks. Apollo was the Greek sun god and the name fitted my brother to a tee. Apollon’s smile warmed us like the sun and he lived in a world of his own. Yet Apollon could understand your next move when we were busy so he’d point to what was the next task. Apollon understood Greek, Romanian and English but his vocabulary consisted of words from each language mixed up as well as his own language, which is why only those who knew him well understood him. When he wanted water he would say “me apa” which is English and Romanian for water. If he was angry he would swear by saying “oh chittabya!” throwing Â one hand in the air (that was his own language). He loved animals and they loved him. I miss Apollon so much and I can’t get used to the fact that he died 4 years ago😢
As I’m shifting through 50 years of cards and letters to put in a folder, I’m so glad I’ve kept letters from my loved ones, some of whom have died. On the other hand, I’m so so sorry I neglected them by not visiting more often whenever possible, or writing and phoning more, when I knew from them that they longed forÂ more contact from me.
One such person was my eldest cousin and mentor, ChrisÂ Polimeris, who was the executor to my father’s estate. When he lived in Sydney he politely disclosed that he wished I would visit more regularly. Yet I didn’t make the time or effort to do so, not even to phone him, even though I loved him deeply. Then he moved to Melbourne with his job and he’d write and I’d take forever to respond and then I’d send him many pages. I just came to a letter he wrote in the last stages of his illness when he expressed his disappointment angrily at my neglect to write and then his love for me as his cousin. Sure, I used to visit his family with my family at Easter holidays each year, but a little more effort from me would have meant so much to him. The picture in this post shows me at 11yrs with my 3 cousins Harry, Chris and Sandy. Now Harry is 80 and for the last few years I’ve changed my ways, visiting him and speaking on the phone regularly, as well as involving myself and supporting his activities with the Australian Hellenic Education Progressive Association. However in writing this I realise I could increase my contact with him even more. This applies to other members of my family, within reason because it needs to be reciprocated. When Chris reached his final hours I was coming to his bedside but was delayed and he lingered on semi conscious to the amazement of his doctors. Then once I got there he lingered on more for 2 days because I would tell him I’d see him later. So finallyÂ I whispered in his ear that I had to go back to my family and job, kissed him on the forehead and said “rest in peace, Chris”. He must have heard that because he died 2 hours later.💕
I love polenta so I Â poured 2 cups into a dish with 1 tbsp oil, some salt, 4 cups water stirred in and then cook, without lid, in Microwave high for 15 mins or until polenta cooked. Stir with a fork after 6 mins and again when ready.
Â In a separate dish cook, without lid, 1 tin baked beans, 1 tsbp oil, and some salt for 10 mins or when appearing fried. Add 1 (or 2) lightly beaten egg, Â stir into fried beans and cook for 6 mins. I served with fried beans and egg on top of polenta with a dab of homemade yoghurt (Romanian style). Makes 2 servings for approx $2 the whole dish. Yummmmm💜
The major decluttering is over but now I’m going through the box of memories I created through the process not realising there’s still more suffering involved. Should I throw out the large laminated photos my family prepared for my surprise 60th birthday, after all I’ve got the original small ones in my album collection? What about the lovely letters and cards from my 2 husbands, family (mother), friends and celebrities etc. I had to sleep on that decision and came up with the solution that I could keep just a FEW in folders with plastic sleeves to flip through now and then. Besides I’m having my autobiography written by Moira Partridge and we may need to go through these.
The next step will be throwing these out when I don’t look at them anymore. I couldn’t believe that I found a loving letter from my mother, when we had paid for her and my brother’s trip back to live in Greece with some of her belongings in the 1980s.
My independence was a disappointment to my mother so loving words were so unusual and wonderfully rewarding to read. Have to keep this one.💜 So as I’d collected lovely white empty folders these proved handy.
Some cards that had touching words such as one from my daughter, Tina, who wrote that she realised how much she appreciated having birthday parties when that is not the usual for many kids. Her brother Paul shared these birthday parties because he was born in the same month a year sooner. When children are brought up independent and healthy, they have a tendency to not visit as often as we want, but parents who know they’re loved need to be forgiving. Seeing these words in cards are reassuring and I’m learning to be positive about it. So some of these cards went into the folders for when I need reminding. I needed help to pull down the heavy suitcases in my wardrobe so I sent an sms in my family group chat asking for volunteers and immediately my 18yr old, uni student grandson Nicholas, Â wrote back saying he’d be free at the end of the week. How’sÂ that for being reminded they care? 💜
Having finished my decluttering I made a Japanese veggie and meat Curry. Just as well I’ve been housebound for so many days because Sydney has been ravaged by a super storm that not only rattled my closed windows but rippled my curtains too! The TV News report devastation of properties and deaths. Amazing, in my warm unit on the eighth floor it’s so like another planet outside.
For my curry meal I cooked for 10 mins in the Microwave 400g of Chuck steak with one chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp oil, and 1 tsp soy sauce until the meat was rare. Then I added two handfuls of Kale, 3 cups of frozen veggies, 1 chopped potato, 1 tin of crushed tomatoes, 2 cups of water, 2 pieces from a bar of hot Japanese Curry, 1tbsp oil, and cooked for a further 15mins. Then I stirred in 1 cup of rice and cooked it a further 15 mins till the rice was cooked. At a cost of approx $6 this can feed 6 people (more with steamed rice on side) so I divided it into take away dishes Â to store in freezer. Yummmm I’m eating some now while the super storm is raging outside.💥
It’s done! Â I emptied my wardrobe in a traumatising process. I found clothes I hadn’t looked at in six years which I loved but threw out for the Salvos. Some which were my favourite were size 12! A part of me said “but you’re losing more weight what will you do when you reach 12?” And I’d respond “don’t worry we’ll buy new ones” and out they would go onto the bed where Mae decided was the best place in the home to sit. There are hoarders and collectors, there is a big difference. Collectors meticulously keep things of sentimental value packing everything away neatly in boxes and cupboards until they have so many they don’t remember what they have, but their homes are tidy. Then they’re looking for something specific and the guilt of having so much stored away gets them upset! That’s what happened to me, Â 8 weeks ago I began the decluttering. Hoarders throw everything around until there no room for them and it can get unhygienic too. I watched the shows on TV cause I loved the ending when their homes were spotless.
I eagerly began, not realising how traumatic it would be to let go of precious things. It’s hard for me to let go of material things. I believe this is so because my family was allowed to
leave Romania at end WWII with just the clothes we had on because my Dad was Greek Orthodox and qualified to go to Greece with his family as refugees. While in Greece we were housed in an old asylum and our home was on the dirt floor in the basement. I was 4yrs old and now in my 70s I can still smell that dirt when I remember back. Then Â 2yrs later we came out on a merchant ship to Australia with 300 other Greek Romanian families on the Marshall Plan, where we were kept in Army tents turned into Refugee Camps until the men got government allocated jobs and could move their families out. Our fares had to be paid back to the Council of Churches who paid them originally. So my father got work with the Australian Aluminum Co. Â and together with another man bought a huge tent which was erected with 2 double beds divided by a blanket and a large dining table housing their families, on a block of land at Fairfield. This was while the men built a half house which was still in progress when we moved in. It was 2 rooms divided by a wall and one family lived in one room with its kitchen dining room and external door out to the back while our family had the other similar bedsitter with an external door at the front.
So from that beginning Â I became attached to my possessions and the trauma was about letting things go that I had collected for over 60yrs, and which I no longer needed. When I start a project I’m committed to finish it no matter how painful, so this decluttering wasÂ traumatic because of my history. Nevertheless imagining how great I’d feel when the clutter is gone kept me going till the end. If the truth be known, however, there are still some suitcases in my wardrobe that a strong member of my family will need to pull down which need to be cleared.💥
Decades ago I wentÂ to 2 nudist beaches to change my bad body image which I thought causedÂ my cravings and inability to eat HEALTHY, not realising I had undiagnosed diabetes!
When I Â watched Â Magda on Ch. 9 Current Affair call herself a fat, single, lesbian who will go to Bondi Beach no matter what they think of her.Â Â I remembered when I went to Obelisk NUDIST beach at Mosman with two close friends. This was with the view that by exposing myself, my negative attitude about my body image will become changed to a positive one. As a result I anticipated that my compulsive emotional eating would be healed. I’ve been fat, I’ve been slim and like now inbetween. I’ve also been to Lady Jane nudist beach at Watson’s Bay.
My Intellectually disabledÂ brother Apollon came with me in the next visit because he was in my care for the weekend. He was such a cool type and didn’t show any shock Â at the sight of a beach full of nudists. He’d never seen me without clothes, so as I discarded them I asked him to take his clothes off too and he did so without a peep out of him (I had bathed him before so I’d seen him naked). We had a splendid day and in the car I asked him what he was going to tell Mum about today and he defensively said “nothing!”. But when I got him home to our mother he burst out in a prudishÂ tirade about how we had gone to a beach where people had no clothes and I made him take his off too! Mother was so disgusted that till his death I was not permitted to take out my brother without her in order to protect his morals! His confession was due to our parents teaching us not to lie even by omission otherwise when they’ll inevitably find out it would be worse for us. Mum was puritanical about her son’s experiences and he knew she wouldn’t approve so he played it safe and confessed all, out of fear of her wrath when she found out. He also acted embarrassed just as she would expect of him. He was safe and wouldn’t have to face the “why didn’t you tell me?!😍
Nudism is very popular and includes whole families enjoying the amazingly freeing experience of not covering up in a safe place. After all, in some Indigenous villages it is natural. Some beaches permit topless women but it doesn’t feel comfortable enough for me unless all are nude including the men. I found this out when two clothed guys stopped to talk with me at a NUDIST beach and so I asked them to either take their clothes off or go!
As I procrastinated before the final major task of my decluttering I remembered how firewalking identified my strengths and weaknesses. My firewalking facilitator friend Jussta convinced me to walk on fire in 1993 and this lead to doing it on 12 different occasions, the last one at an Anthony Robbins motivation workshop in Sydney. As a result I discovered that you need to wait until it feels like the fire is calling you and then you walk on it. Also that I’m capable of doing whatever I set my mind to do (no matter how daunting) and that in the last moment I can lose the momentum to finish, so then I have to push myself a little bit more. Â The evidence was on my first firewalk I Â got to half a meter before the end and paused which meant I got a blister. In all the next firewalks I kept that in mind and no more burns. Here I go one last push as soon as I get the call to tackle this step of my decluttering!
Ruby my assertive cat (almost to bully level) often shows her appreciation of technology as humans show Love💜. This same affection she has exhibited towards my heater here, robot vacuum cleaner, carpet steamer and portable computer. Tabby Mae also shows affection for my computer. Although I suspect Mae goes to great lengths to compete for the stool on which the computer sometimes sits on, to the extent of Â pushing it off, breaking its electric cord ($89 replacement)💥
My miniature Chihuahua Pepi got diarrhea and after tests the Vet Andrew at Randwick Vet prescribed a balance of protein, rice, carrot and green beans without his favourite shaving of cheese for awhile. Well the time came when he rebelled and wouldn’t eat my ground concoction without cheese shavings.
He stood his ground and the look said “what’s this shit?” And I ignored him until he continued with “WTF where’s the cheese, I’m not eating without it”. So as anyone knows Chihuahuas are fussy eaters and Pepi hooks into my guilt so easily. “OK just a little cheese or you’ll get sick and the doggie doctor will say naughty Affie!”.
I shaved a little cheese on his food and mixed it in and he demolished the meal.
Then he looked at me as if to say “see! I told you it needed cheese!” Does anyone else go through that kind of power struggle at feed time?!âœŠ