SOME MEMOIRS -- by John Ray
Some occasional personal notes from a quiet life...

John Ray's Home Page; Email John Ray here. The Blogroll. Photo album for this blog here. A link to memoirs from previous years can be found just above the flag at the foot of this page.


A smile not as good as the famous smile of Antonia Staats but of that ilk. In my late 50s. Not so good now

What am I? I am the tiniest spark in the great conflagration that is life on earth

I have made a few mistakes in my life but it has nonetheless been a pretty happy life

Some people want to live as long as possible. I want to enjoy my life as much as possible.

MOTTO: As Oscar Wilde may have said: "Life is too important to be taken seriously". But the Hagakure had the idea too: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly"



28 June, 2022

Getting some sun

Zoe is something of a sun worshipper so we sometimes soak up a bit of sun while she is with me. We sit on the landing outside my front door for a while of a late afternoon.

Given my frequent skin cancers I regard the sun as something of an enemy, however. So when I sit out in the sun, I cover up a bit with hat and sunnies. Zoe actually thought that made me look sexy so she took some photos of me in my protective gear. I reproduce two of them. In the close-up you can see the scars on my cheek from my recent operation. Zoe thought my scars made me look rather handsome. De gustibus non disputandum est







24 June, 2022

An unpleasant day

Recently, a lump of some kind sprang up on my cheek beside my nose on the right. I had it biopsied but the biopsy was uninformative. It was however growing so was probably a cancer of some sort and hence needed to be removed.

I put one of the best plastic surgeons in Brisbane -- someone I know well from past procedures -- onto the job and he successfully removed it yesterday -- charging $4,000 for the job. It was a very difficult job so it was worth that to me.

The tumor went down to the bone and it abutted a facial muscle. In less capable hands I could have been left with a droopy face. It is already a bit droopy due to my having lost a left facial nerve in another cancer operation some years ago. The muscle appears to have been preserved this time however

It was a Moh's procedure so we know that the tumor was all gone before I was stitched up. I didn't have a lot of pain when the local wore off but the site is rather uncomfortable. There was some swelling around the site but I am taking Roxithromycin for it and the swelling does appear to be on the way down. Roxithromycin is a "safer" form of Erythromycin, which has worked well for me in the past. I note that Roxithromycin is not yet approved for use in the USA but is approved in a number of European countries

The biopsy of the specimen yielded a diagnosis of a BCC but the cells were obviously unusual so my surgeon is consulting and oncologist colleague to understand a bit about it. He has not ruled out follow-up radiology.



20 June, 2022

Mortality

A lot of men die in their 60s so one can easily lose friends that way. I have. Most of my friends are dead. I find that hard to get used to. They are still alive and vital in my memory. I still think of them as they were and miss being able to see them.

So I am rather glad that I am still alive at age 78 and appear to be in good enough shape to last a while yet. And while my friends are dead I am enjoying a relationship with a new and pretty girlfriend. My favourite picture of her is below. I feel very lucky.





14 June, 2022

Alphabets

Aging is a pesky thing

Having a great desire to understand the world about me, I did in my youth become familiar with the Greek alphabet, the Hebrew alphabet and the the Cyrillic alphabet (Russia). To my regret, however I never did learn Devanagari (India), which looks rather pretty.

I have minor qualifications in Italian and German so I find that I can have a fair stab at understanding something in a European language as long as I can read the alphabet. That is assisted by the fact that most languages these days have borrowed heavily from English

But in my late '70s I have lost most of that. I can still read Greek with difficulty but that's about it. And I can with patience look up a Russian dictionary because Cyrillic is based on Greek.

But now that I have a patriotic Serb in my life, I am trying to relearn Cyrillic. I recently sent her an email in Cyrillic. It is below:

?????
????? ?????
?? ???? ??
???

And I am pleased to note that one of the characters in it is a Serbian one -- not part of standard Cyrillic

The message was warmly received



10 June, 2022

A fun day

Very low-key fun but perhaps that is the best sort.

Below is the raw-food dinner Zoe put in front of me. It was a pleasant and colourful composition -- and probably good for me as well



And below is the composer of that dinner, looking as pleased as she has every right to be



She is wearing one of her favourite necklaces plus a bangle I gave her that day. I feel more than pleased to have such a nice-looking partner in my decrepit late '70s

The bangle. She likes pearls

The bangle is a magnetically fastened one so can also be worn as a necklace. See below in a high definition pic. The Hi-def also shows what remarkably wrinkle-free skin Zoe has in her mid 70s. She ages unusually slowly



And after dinner we went shopping at Coco's and got a whole box of fruit and veg for just $12. Zoe picked out most of what we bought so that is part of the reason why we paid so little. She has a very good eye for a bargain.

We sometimes exchange messages in Serbian Cyrillic. The message for me below below is actually in English but spelt in Cyrillic

?? ???? ??

In Cyrillic, a V shows as a B

I normally greet her in Serbian or Russian when she arrives at my place. Like most Serbs, she understands Russian. They learn it at school and it is a closely related language so they tend to learn it well



3 June, 2022

A food surprise

Because I do not have a live-in partner, I often have to prepare meals for myself -- so I rely a lot on frozen dinners and canned food. They are usually quite passable these days but none reach any kind of gourmet standard.

I can be lucky, however. For my lunch yesterday I ate very well. I had a thick Laksa soup which was excellent followed by a Tasmanian pork pie that was very tasty too. Not quite a gourmet lunch but definitely a good one.







29 May, 2022

Smile

Zoe and I did particularly well together today. Her smile may tell you that



As it happens it was a good day for Joe and me today too. After our customary Sunday breakfast burger, Joe offered to play me some things on his Roland piano. He played several pieces by J.S Bach, which he knew I would like and he even played me a wonderful solfeggietto by K.P.E. Bach. It was great to hear that he was keeping his practice up to some extent.

I saw Joe in the morning and Zoe arrived about 3pm for our customary late lunch cum early dinner. She arrives as late as 4pm for it. Given my own Germanic habits of punctuality it should bother me but I just accept it as some sort of Mediterranean thing and allow for it.



23 May, 2022

Visitors from NZ

Now that Jacinda has released her people from the iron curtain that imprisoned them for so long, it is time for Kiwis to breathe free again.

We have already had Pam come over and today we welcomed Suz and her daughter Sahara. Because they could not fly directly from Invercargill, they had to get up early and spent most of the day travelling. But they arrived in time for Jenny to put on a welcome dinner for them, with Joe, Pam, Ken and myself invited as well.

Jenny made two of her excellent Lasagnas so we were well fed. We spent a couple of hours talking before breaking up for the night.

Below is a picture of Sahara, now 12.





21 May, 2022

The ‘intimacy-desire paradox’

We read here:

"That which we desire most in a relationship (read: security and comfort) rarely coexists with that which keeps us attracted to a partner (read: passion and sexual intimacy).

It’s a frustrating contradiction some sex therapists refer to as the ‘intimacy-desire paradox’. In short, this hypothesis proposes the more comfortable we are with someone, the more our sexual desire for them is likely to decline.

Which makes sense, given desire is essentially the result of wanting something we don’t already possess"


I have certainly experienced that in some of my relationships. I have got on so well with my partner that she seems like a sister to me. And there is a big taboo -- of probably biological origin -- which says you don't have sex with your sister. It is in fact the crime of incest. So my sex life rather petered out on those occasions, I am sorry to say



13 May, 2022

Necklaces

I have been shopping again

Below is Pam wearing a necklace I bought for her. She chose herself it so is very pleased with it. Pam is Jenny's bestie, recently released from the prison island across the Tasman



I also bought Zoe a string of pearls. It is a small one as she likes small jewelery



Update: Zoe really liked the pearls. She said it was something that she had wanted. So here is another pic of her as she arrived this afternoon, looking pretty as usual. I really like the way she dresses.

I liked the matching shoes and jumper

Breaking my rib on 18 April greatly restricted what I can do. So it has affected our relationship quite a bit. She has remained affectionate and understanding but I have been unable to cuddle her, which we have both greatly missed. I am slowly healing however so today was the first day after 4 weeks that we were able to cuddle. Most pleasing



8 May, 2022

Mothers' day

My mother is long ago deceased so I really have no-one to celebrate on the day. I suppose I could get together with my siblings and have some sort of occasion to honour our mother but we have never done so. I didn't like my mother very much anyway. But de mortuis nihil nisi bonum forbids me to expand on that.

What I have done on some past occasions is meet with family members who are mothers and have a nice lunch. Most of the family concerned are overseas these days however so that was not on.

Zoe solved the problem for me today. She said that she acts like my mother so I should shout her a lunch in honour of that. So I did. I took her to the Burmese at Stone's corner, where I regularly have the roast duck. It was as good as ever today.

My fitness has undergone a fair bit of improvement recently as my broken bones slowly heal. My foot seems to be completely healed and my ribs don't bother me if I move carefully. One memorable thing in that department today was after we got home: I sat Zoe on my knee. It's decades since I have done that with a woman but Zora is only 55kg so that made it possible. It was a good experience. She makes a good playmate, among other things



Gifts

As the Apostle Paul said: It is more blessed to give than to receive. I have always believed that. And because of some good decisions in my earlier life, I accumulated substantial financial assets. And I have even managed to hang on to the assets so far. Making money is one thing but hanging onto it is another. A lot of people make big money but then go on to lose it.

So I am in a position to give gifts to people in my orbit. Most of my gifts have been quite small but some have been quite large. I have even given cars on some occasions.

One thing I have often done is give small items of costume jewellery to Anne. I have put up pictures on this blog of some of the items concerned. I seem to have a good handle on her taste so I often buy the items before she sees them and they mostly seem to go down well.

Since early this year I have had a girlfriend in the person of Zoe so I have started to give her things too. Below is a bracelet I recently bought her. She was with me when I bought it and it was something she herself selected. I thought it was particularly pretty so give a picture of it below



Anne has not been forgotten however. Below is a bracelet I bought her just this morning. She has not seen it yet. I think it is rather striking



Today is also a red-letter day. Today I left my surgical "moon boot" at home. My broken ankle now seems to be fully healed. I am still walking around very cautiously however -- still using a walking stick



26 April, 2022

ANZAC day

Yesterday was ANZAC day. I have attended Dawn services and watched the marches on various occasions in the past in both Brisbane and Sydney. It is both a solemn and a happy time. I am quite disabled at the moment so I could not participate this year. I did however do something both special and mundane: Joe and I went to Macdonald's for brunch. We in fact went to a local Macdonald's that Joe has been visiting since he was 4.

It was special because I am so disabled at the moment. Joe had to help me quite a lot to get there. I had to lean on his strong arm while walking. But it was a pleasant occasion and made a very welcome outing for me. Since I cracked a rib, outings have been few and far between. I am not bedbound but I am decidedly housebound. Just the day before, Joe and I had had our usual Sunday breakfast at home to cope with my limitations

ANZAC day is a people's day. It marks the loss of thousands of ordinary men and women in the battles of WWI. I myself did lose relatives in both WWI and WWII. So it is a day on which we honour members of our own families: Men and women who fought and died for "King and country" but who were really motivated by a wish to protect their own families. It is Australia's greatest national occasion.

The "Courier Mail" has a splendid photo gallery of this year's occasion in Brisbane. I particularly liked the photo below. It was presumably a re-enactment group who had gone to the trouble of donning the army uniforms of WWI:



Note the Lewis gun. It was used a fair bit in WWI.

And if you look at the gallery as a whole you will note the large number of Australian flags being displayed. It is a day on which we are openly proud of our Australian identity. The Left have always hated it but they have never been able to ding it. A novel mocking ANZAC day was even prescribed for High School reading during my teens. I remember it well: Alan Seymour's "One day of the year".

The day could have been one for old men to celebrate their past but it is not. Old Diggers do of course lead the celebrations but young people also turn out in droves for the occasion. The Left have forced much upon us but the people at large have thwarted that attack. As an ex-digger myself, I am glad of that.



25 April, 2022

Anne

Any reader of this blog will have come across many mentions of Anne, a lady whom I have been seeing for many years. I see more of Zoe these days but I still see Anne. So maybe I should at this time put up a small note about our relationship.

I met Anne on Sept 1, 2005. In my December 2005 Christmas letter I commented as follows:

"I now have a new lady by the name of Anne. She is such a keen chorister that she is in two choirs so she and I share a lot of musical interests -- including an interest in early church music.

Anne is a nurse by trade and tells me that everything you hear about the Queensland Health bureaucracy is true".

Curiously, although Anne does not appear to believe in God in any way, she still has Presbyterian beliefs. How come? She still believes that: "it was all meant to be". The Scottish churches are of course all originally Calvinist and even the 39 "Articles of Religion" of the Church of England accept predestination in a convoluted sort of way but you never hear that belief preached from any pulpit that I know of these days".

And from the beginning of 2006 up until quite recently the occasional events recorded on this blog have almost all featured Anne in one way or another

Anne and I continued together as partners -- seeing one-another just twice a week -- up until March, 2000. At that point she introduced me to another man she had had in her life for some time. She had found a new partner. After 14 years together and with both of us in our mid-70s, I had hoped that we were together for good. But there were things that were important to Anne which I was not giving her so I did not for a moment blame her for looking elsewhere for those things. And getting them has drawn her close to George, her new bloke.

She told George from the beginning that I would remain important in her life so he has accepted that, apparently not without some reluctance. And Anne has remained true to her word. We have continued to have meals together, though less frequently than before.

Despite her seeing a lot of George, it was clear that Anne really did want as much as possible of our old relationship to continue. I give her things that she treasures that George cannot give her. So we both agreed that our relationship was permanent, which I wanted. Because of her engrossing relationship with George however, we meet just once a week over breakfast, which is as enjoyable as ever

So the story of a large part of my later life is the story of my time with Anne. Below are links which take you conveniently to that story:

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006



23 April, 2022

Geraldine

I have gradually put online a few memoirs of the relationships I have had over the years. Below may however be the longest such memoir so far. I kept detailed diary notes of my experiences with Geraldine at the time and below is an extensive extract from those notes.

From my earliest days, I assumed that I would one day meet a highly compatible lady, fall in love, marry her and live happily with her for the rest of my life. It's a common dream but has remained a dream for me in my 78 years so far.

Along the way, however, I met many fine women whom I spent a lot of time with. They were very good years but none of the relationships proved permanent. I married four times in search of my ideal but after the fourth marriage broke up, I decided simply to accept what came my way. And much did.

I met Geraldine in 1999 when she was 51. She replied to an advertisement of mine earlier on in February and we got on rather well over the phone but she cancelled two arrangements for a meeting on that occasion. So she seemed a skittish woman from the outset. I did however know that she liked Bach so that was a big advantage from my musically-obsessed point of view.

We remained in some touch so we eventually got together in person in October. I arranged to meet her at a pavement cafe ("La Dolce Vita") at the foot of Brisbane's mini Eiffel tower in Park Rd., Milton.

After I made the appointment I realized, however, that I had a problem. JHM and I were booked to go to a concert that same evening and it was one of the UQ Music Department's "Twilight" concerts -- starting at 6pm. And to drive to the concert, get parked and walk to the venue all takes time. So how was I going to fit in both the 4:30pm meeting with Geraldine and the 6pm engagements?

I mentioned the problem to JHM. She suggested the only possible solution. She would meet me at the Eiffel tower after I had time for my talk with Geraldine and we could proceed from there to the concert.

So we did just that. I met Geraldine at 4.30pm at the Eiffel tower and sat talking with her there until JHM arrived at 5.15pm to collect me. So poor Geraldine had the surely bemusing experience of sitting at a table talking to a prospective boyfriend only to have the man's beautiful ex-girlfriend roll up to collect him from her!

I did explain in advance to Geraldine what my arrangements were so she did not seem put out and when I rang her after the concert (from JHM's place!) and asked her out to another concert on Sunday. She accepted! I thought she had a lot of heart in the circumstances. What I did was certainly not the ideal way to win a fair lady, I would think. But I did eventually win her.

Geraldine was a Primary School teacher when I met her -- 5'5" tall, with an education degree and a diploma. She was at the time aged 51, had steady blue eyes, a slim waist, a nice figure and short brown hair. She was rather more wrinkled than one would expect at her age -- probably because of her outdoorsy lifestyle and the fact that she was once a smoker.

She was a very keen bushwalker -- in part, no doubt, because of the endorphins she got out of it. She was even big on solo bushwalks.

She was quiet to the point of taciturnity but as I am generally reserved too, I understood that. She was also a good example for the saying that one should not judge a book by its cover: Although seeming like a quiet little mouse, she was no mouse in the bedroom. I liked that!

Her husband was an accountant with OCD tendencies who had left her for another woman when she was 35. He had however provided for her and her three children fairly well (giving her quite a lot of money every month) and given her the very pleasant matrimonial home in Brisbane's generally salubrious Western suburbs.

Anyway, I took her to the concert at the Customs House at lunchtime on 31 October 1999 and things went quite well between us. We went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens afterwards and talked a lot. We had some lunch there at the kiosk and an NCOT at her pleasant Western suburbs house afterwards. She got my strange (very weak) tea right first time! A clever woman. I told her that I took my tea at Chinese strength and that is how she made it.

She said afterwards that she would cook dinner for me on the Sunday but on Sunday morning she rang up and cancelled it. On the Tuesday after that we had a phone conversation in which she announced that she did not want to see me any more. Asked why, she said: "Because I feel a slut". I tried to tell her that there was nothing to be concerned about but I could not persuade her. There were of course other things about me that were bothering her as well but I had little idea of what they were at the time.

I wrote her a letter afterwards but that did no good either. It was a pity because she seemed to have the basics of what I wanted -- a good mind, a liking for Bach, and a good figure. She was however much quieter and more reserved than any woman I had ever met before.

Later in the year I sent her a Xmas card with a version of my usual Xmas letter in it. In the letter I mentioned that an old girlfriend and I had got back together. I mentioned that the lady had a higher degree in the social sciences and a great figure.

A naive person might think that a paragraph such as that would really hammer the nails into the coffin of any hopes I had for Geraldine. It did the opposite, of course. Why? Because: It confirmed that I was desirable, that I did not need her and that I would not be waiting around for her indefinitely. It confirmed that breakups were not final for me, it showed that problems can take a while to sort out, that I am willing to work on problems for the sake of a relationship and that I was still thinking of her even while I was with another desirable woman. It also took away any pressure from her to leap into a relationship with me straight away. I intended it to generate jealousy and it did.

So she emailed me with congratulations on my new relationship and an invitation to join her on a Sunday drive up to Montville (an arty-crafty place), which I did. She brought a picnic lunch with her and we had a nice day's outing, with lots of matters discussed. From that point on it was clear that she had mostly overcome her reservations and was prepared to develop a relationship with me.

Christmas 1999 was something of a watershed in our relationship. Geraldine had a custom of going for a week with her children every Christmas over to Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay for a relaxed time and to commune with nature. I went over to join her the Tuesday before Xmas and also on Boxing day. We greatly enjoyed rambling about together looking at the scenery, swimming etc and also, of course, bedroom activities. We both developed a marked increase in involvement on those two days.

As I left after our Boxing Day meeting, she put two "Minties" in my pocket. What a fine Australian girl! Such a simple kind gesture so evocative of our shared ethnic Australian culture did endear her to me. It was what a loving Australian mother might have done for one of her sons going off on a trip.

The relationship between us developed rapidly after that. New Year's eve (the "Millennial" new year), on 31.12.1999 was particularly memorable. I felt that the occasion was certainly far more fun than a 56-year old deserved, despite being (unbelievably, I suppose) non-alcoholic. I did abandon my teetotalling long enough to open a 30 year old bottle of "Arealva" Portuguese red wine that was left over from my drinking days but it was (surprise, surprise) off. So I went back to lemon squash at that stage.

I was well on the way to monogamy with Geraldine at that stage but had not quite got there. I was still in transition from the previous girlfriend. It did however give me the most interesting New Year's eve I had had. Quite Millennial:

Our next day, the first day of the new millennium, was memorable too. Geraldine arrived at my place at Forest St at 12.30pm equipped with picnic things. We drove to the Moreton Bay foreshore at Wynnum and had our picnic lunch under a shady tree on the Esplanade there whilst enjoying the view out to sea. The bright blue sky, the sand and mudflats in the foreground, the green sea in the middleground and the dark blue Bay islands in the distance made a pleasant scene, withlots of birdlife, some sailboats etc. as well. We then went for a long ramble along the foreshore.

We spent the rest of the afternon at her place talking and listening to CDs of Albinoni and other classical composers played on the computer she has in her bedroom. Geraldine then made us some very good spaghetti for dinner. We then drove up to the top of Brisbane's very own Mt Coot-tha equipped with a Thermos and drank our tea whilst enjoying the always pleasing spectacle of the multitudinous and many coloured lights of the city of Brisbane spread out all around below us and into the far distance.

When we arrived back at Geraldine's place, we found that she had not taken her house keys with her. So I had the unexpected excitement of climbing up on the roof and through a bedroom window to get us in. Around 11pm, we had some chocolates to eat and I then went home in a tired state. We had two trips to scenic spots, two meals, several cups of tea, one swim and a roof excursion all in one day. Active but very enjoyable!

Shortly thereafter she had a pre-booked walking trip to NZ, during which we corresponded

A little over a week after she got back, however, we broke up! Her adult sons did not approve of her new relationship so that put pressure on her as she had devoted her life to them after her marriage breakup when she was 35 (she married at 22).

I did get her back again after only 4 days apart but a week later she broke it off again. After that breakup (the third), however, I decided that I would be foolish to attempt a full-time relationship with her again.

Thinking about it at that time, it seemed to me that the major problem between us really was that Geraldine found the relationship with me to be very intense and just did not have the emotional energy to cope with it on a full-time basis. That did not seem likely to change but it seemed possible that we could still see one another on a part-time basis as long as we had both come to accept that developing it beyond that would be too ambitious.

I certainly accepted that. Even seeing one-another once a week would however seem to be a pretty good thing and could be an arrangement that would be stable over time. That, after all, is how it was with JHM and me at the time. Not that any two relationships are ever the same. But whatever we did, I saw it as very important to have full disclosure to one-another of our thoughts about it. I think we gave one-another unnecessary grief before that because of our tendency to hope for the best rather than work together on doubts and problems.

Shortly after Geraldine and I had built up to seeing one-another four nights a week I stopped seeing other women and began a monogamous relationship with her. She was really the only one I wanted to be with by that time, despite other lubricious opportunities. It still surprises me a little, however, that I was so romantic about her. The other women around for me at the time were pretty good catches. In short, I passed over 4 remarkably attractive and intelligent women for a quiet little mouse! Rather amazing. I just liked Geraldine's mind better.

Her skittishness however did not go away.  We continued to have lots of breakups and reunions and I eventually got tired of that and took up with another lady. We were together in all for about two years. We parted finally on 14th April, 2002.



18 April, 2022

A VERY mixed day

Zoe and I had arranged to go out for lunch yesterday. She arrived at my place very late, however, as she often does. It was nearly 3pm when she arrived and restaurants mostly close at 2:30 after lunch. And the ones we were thinking of were all closed.

All was not lost however as there was a small cafe open just down the road which had a good menu. So we went there

The seating, however consisted of backless stools -- so as I was settling in I leaned back and promptly fell off -- falling flat on my back on the floor. I didn't feel hurt anywhere so, after a couple of kind people helped me up, I continued with my meal. I had a burrito that I thought was very good and Zoe liked her vegetable salad

On the way, home, however, I felt a lot of stabbing pains in my chest and suspected that I had damaged a rib in my fall. Zoe and I however continued our date and had a very nice time for a few hours. It was probably the most congenial time we have spent together. So she want home in a happy state and sent me a very affectionate email when she got home.

So I was and still am feeling very happy about my relationship with her. I suspect that we have now done the hard yards and we will be happy together fairly permanently from now on. I really have begun a good new relationship at age 78.

The downside was however my injury. Jenny took me to the Wesley this morning for a scan and they confirmed that I have a small rib break on the upper left near my shoulder So it is not very serious and should heal well enough on its own. They think that I will be pain-free in a couple of weeks.

So it was good to establish a warm relationship with Zoe but bad that I broke a rib. If I move carefully, I can avoid much pain from the break.



15 April, 2022

I seem to have got my little Serb back

Which I am very glad about. I do appreciate her. She enlivens my life

Zoe and I had a bust-up recently but I persuaded her to have lunch with me today. As most restaurants close on Good Friday, we had the meal at home.

Two things made a good impression on her. I provided a lettuce for the salad instead of our usual spinach and I greeted her in good Russian when she arrived . Serbs like Russians and vice versa. Zoe learnt Russian at school.

Our time together went well and we have another date for Sunday lunch so I think we are back together. There were sighs of contentment from her at a couple of points so I liked that.



3 April, 2022

Good duck

The duck is a very tasty bird but also is rather skinny. There is not much meat on a duck. I am always on the lookout for a good duck cook but mostly I find that the offering is both not very tasty and rather small.

Today however Zoe and I went to the Burmese restaurant at Stones Corner for lunch and I got quite a good meal of duck. It tasted ducky and there was plenty of it. Zoe just had salad in her usual way.

As I have a small break in my anke from a recent fall, I cannot drive -- but Zoe got me into her SUV and drove us both there. I use just a moon boot to get around at the moment. I no longer use crutches or a walking stick. Both Jenny and Anne also drive me around on occasions so my life is pretty close to normal. I don't like driving anyway. Joe drove the two of us to the pie shop as usual this morning.



March 28, 2022

Recovery

I am still taking it very carefully but have gradually become more able to get about without pain. I mostly walk about the house using one crutch and with the boot on. The boot is a bit uncomfortable but appears to have had a big role in healing. I can and do walk short distances without it now with no pain. I take it off at night so I can sleep in some comfort so I do some very short walks at that time. I can now actually get into my shower cubicle with neither crutch nor boot and no pain -- so that is a blessing.

My life has not been greatly disrupted by my fall. I usually spend most of my day at my computer and I can still do that. And last Sunday I made it to my usual Sunday breakfast at the pie-shop with Joe. Joe has been enormously helpful in dealing with my temporary disability.

Zoe initially was upset by the change to our relationship caused by my fall but we have in fact continued our usual routine of Wednesday, Friday and Sunday dinners. As usual, we had the dinners at my place with both of us contributing in various ways.

Last night was a particularly pleasant night, with Zoe telling me about her past encounters with Serbian politics. She strongly supported opposition to former President Boris Tadi? (2004 to 2012) and felt unsafe in Serbia because of that. Living in Australia allays such concerns.



March 23, 2022

A pesky episode

I have been having some arthritic pain in my right knee. It comes and goes and is generally no great problem. It became a problem last Saturday morning (19th), however. As I was going down my front stairs, my knee suddenly "went" on me. So I fell over abruptly and hurt my ankle. Falling on hardwood stairs is not a good thing to do so I had at least a sprained ankle and could only walk painfully from that point on.

So next day I arrived with Joe at the emergency department of the Wesley hospital seeking an x-ray to check for any broken bones. One gets first class treatment at the Wesley with no waiting. It costs rather a lot but I always go there if I can because I like the friendly and polite way I am treated there. I saw an emergency physician who was very communicative and attentive and the x-rays were promptly ordered and carried out.

It turned out that I had broken a small bone in my foot. The doctor bandaged it up firmly and referred me to get a surgical "boot", which I did the next day. So I am hobbling along on crutches, greatly limiting what I can do. Rather disrupting things I had planned



March 18, 2022

Beside the seaside

Z asked me to take her to the beach. Such a request in Brisbane would normally elicit a trip "down the coast" to Surfers Paradise, Greenmount, Currumbin etc. And in the days of my youth, I often pointed my sky-blue VW beetle in that direction.

It is now many years since I have been there however and in my declining years I have a considerable aversion to sitting in traffic for the hour or so that such a trip entails.

So I took Z to the beach at Manly, which is only half an hour's drive from where I live. It's not much of a beach but it is a reasonable venue for a picnic lunch, which is how I approached it. Z was not too disappointed by it and we managed to have one of the raw food lunches that Z insists on.

After lunch was the big test however. Z wanted me to join her sunbaking on the beach. Given what the sun has given me in the form of skin cancer, however it is many years since I have exposed my lily-white skin to the sun.

But I am a reformed man these days. Instead of frequently saying No to outing requests from a female partner, I am these days doing what I can to oblige. So I agreed to join Z in the sun but added a warning that I doubted my ability to get up from lying on the beach.

And so it was. In my elderly State I was unable to get up even if Z lent me a hand. There was a fit young man nearby however so Z asked him for help. He obliged and I was able to stand up in a rather wobbly state.

So Z did get a bit of time sunbaking but not much. With her trim and tanned little body she looked a real surfer chick.

On the way home my driving scared the wits out of Z a few times but no harm befell us.



Thursday, March 17, 2022

A rogues gallery

Some pictures of me in the last few years: Most recent last. My blotches have receded a lot in recent years





16 March, 2022

A small but amusing episode

It was rather warm this afternoon so Zoe and I were lying together in bed with an airconditioner above us putting out a pretty good icy blast.

At one point I leant over to give Z a kiss, which was of course welcomed. When I pulled away from the kiss, Z said, "You are cold like a snake" -- which cracked me up. She was referring to my face being cold from the airconditioner blowing on it. I said, "That's a strange thing to say to a man who has just given you a kiss."

She saw the point and said. "It's my autism" -- which it was. Being autistic myself I am well used to autistic bluntness. I often sabotage myself that way. I once lost a lover because of it

Anyway, a picture of the guilty party below. Like a lot of ladies she is into clothes and, fortunately, I like her taste. I thought the blouse below was particularly pretty.





11 March, 2022

To Nandos with Zoe

I have eaten out a lot in my life but with Z we mostly eat at home. She likes uncooked food so that limits restaurant options. But Nandos do offer a couple of salads and that suits Z well enough. So we decided to go there tonight.

I was under strict orders from Z that I must have some salad. So Z had the Continental salad and I had the same plus chicken. I have had rather a lot of chicken lately so friends should not be surprised if I start going cock-a-doodle-do occasionally

Z dressed for going out and as usual got a good result. I thought she looked quite pretty in her outfit. The yellows and browns went with her tanned skin, She has a good figure so she wears clothes well.

The pic below was taken in night light so is a bit dark



I supppose it must seem a bit soppy of me to put up pix of Z so often. Truth be told, I am really pleased to have a presentable girlfriend when we are both in our '70s. It's partly due to the fact that she works on her health and fitness. She RUNS several miles most days for exercise



2 March, 2022

Living with Zoe

By the skin of her teeth Zoe managed to bypass the floods on Sunday and got over to my place via Ipswich Rd. But she could not get back. So here she stayed until around 5pm today, Wednesday. And even then it took her 2 hours to get home via various detours.

So we were suddenly living together for 4 days, something unforeseen by us both. We did have some frictions but we also had a lot of laughs so it all went reasonably well. She went home in a high mood.

While she was here, she had a field day bullying me into eating raw food (fruit and salads) for my meals. I didn't give in entirely however. I had sausage rolls from time to time to meet my need for junk food.

Being confined by the floods she didn't have much to do for a lot of the time here so she unleashed a cleaning blitz on my place. Some places got cleaned that had not been cleaned for years, given my bachelor habits. She even cleaned my assortment of power boards

This afternoon we undertook a short outing to Kangaroo Pt. to look at the flooded river. It was indeed wide but still well below where we were standing. See below



ADDENDUM

While Zoe was "housekeeping" at my place she showed a rare talent for Ikebana. Below are two lettuces in one of my vases





26 February, 2022

Life goes on

Zoe and I are still getting used to one another amid a lot of positives. Being involved with a passionate Southern European is a new experience for me but we have a lot in common and she is very bright and very feminine so it works.

It is however a great departure from the meek and orderly Australian women I am used to. Zoe arrived for lunch at 3pm yesterday, which might give you an idea of the difference. I just rolled with it however. No recriminations.

She lives out Ipswich way but drove to my place at the Gabba amid all the bad weather -- so that was impressive.

A picture below of her bringing cups of tea from the kitchen. I liked the pale blue blouse she was wearing. She dresses very well.



"And now for something completely different"



Zoe at the most recent "Pro-choice" demonstration in Brisbane. She and I both believe that taking the Covid vaccine should be a matter of personal choice, not compelled by any kind of government mandate or pressure.



24 February, 2022

A lesson about depression

I am almost always buoyant in mood: Nothing gets me down, almost. I didn't know the meaning of the word "depression" until I was in my 40s. But I have not escaped so lightly since.

Being a high-functioning autistic, I have always found it easy to interest intelligent single women. My diversity in attitudes can generate a certain fascination. But it doesn't last. I have had a lot of relationships but the ladies eventually walk away. My communication deficits emerge and generate dissatisfaction.

That has rarely bothered me. In no time at all I just waltz into a new relationship feeling totally carefree. No moping or reflecting at all. But every suit of armour has its chinks and I have twice been very upset about losing a long relationship. And that has led to serious depression, complete with the suicidal thoughts that usually accompany depression. So I now know what depression is all about.

But the thought that has always sustained me at such times is an awareness that brighter times lie ahead. If I were to commit suicide I know that I would miss out on many happy times that lie ahead for me. And so it has happened.

I had quite a bit of depression at the time of my near-fatal encounter with cancer last year. But the happy times are now back. My health is very good, my friendship with Anne is now warmer than ever, Zoe has stopped nagging me about my omnivorous diet and Jenny has come through her encounter with the dreaded virus in good shape. And my relationship with Zoe is filled with lots of laughs. I am a lucky man.



February 17, 2022

Elderly outings

I am the elderly one. Zoe walks miles at the drop of a hat. So I rarely drop hats.

We have started to have some sedate outings together. Below is from an outing to Mowbray Park.



Note the undropped hat



Isn't she gorgeous?



February 15, 2022

Envy



I wonder what the average man thinks when he sees what attractive women rich and famous sportsmen can have in their lives. See Keely Hannah above. Envy is an understandable response.

But at 78, I actually don't feel envious. I look back and remember some very good-looking women I have had in my life over the years and see myself as having had my share of such women. I see it as mere justice that my choices now are much more limited. I accept that I cannot now aspire to having in my life such knockout women as the one above

And it helps that my girlfriend is pretty nice looking in the context of her and my present age. I suspect that Zoe is pretty close to as good as you get among women in their mid 70s

Original article here:

https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/celebrity/who-is-keely-hannah-bernard-tomics-new-girlfriend/news-story/3717452c1f7cb972bf3499a59b49688d



February 14, 2022

V-day

My valentine this year was Zoe. At her request she got her red roses and card the day before (Sun. 13). She stayed for both lunch and dinner that day. We also dined together on 14th. She contributed some good cakes. We had some good conversation so she stayed rather later than she had intended



February 12, 2022

My Lesbian sister

All the people in the note below are now deceased so I think I can safely say something about them now

My sister Jacqueline was two years younger than me -- born 14.9.1945 -- and was always from childhood on known as "Jack" -- an omen of things to come


As we were


"Jack" as a kid

She died in her '60s and had no children. She died on July 4 2009 of the family illness -- breast cancer. Her death was expected and both her female companion and her ex-husband were with her until the end.

She was in general a good and kind person and remained good friends with Gary Ward, her ex-husband, for the whole of her life. So I am not the only one in the famiy who keeps good relationships with former partners. My other two siblings are still with their original partners.

She was always attracted to other females but made the effort to try a conventional marriage by marrying her good friend Gary Ward. Gary was a very masculine man, a truck driver and at one time a policeman. And Jack had a lot of masculine attitudes so it could have worked. And they did try all the possibilities in bed in an effort to make it work. But it was no good. She left Gary for another woman. They never ceased to be friends however, through all the ups and downs of their subsequent lives. Gary did after a while marry a real woman and had kids but he still remained friends with "old Jack" as he called her.

It is actually wonderful thing that they always had one another as supportive friends. It must have been a great emotional strength to them

Another support for Jack is a somewhat surprising one: Her mother. My mother was always scornful of men and was a women's liberationist before that was common. She was an admirer of the suffragettes. I think it is pretty clear that she would have been a lesbian if born 40 years later.

Anyway our mother was not at all put out by Jack becoming a lesbian. After "coming out" Jack described herself and her mother as "getting along like a house on fire".

So she didn't have a bad life. She missed out on the joy of having children but I doubt that she was much bothered by that

I saw little of Jack during our adult lives. One might have thought that as we were both interested in women we should have had a lot in common. But we were of course interested in a different sort of woman. Jack's women seemed to me to be pretty rough whereas I like traditionally feminine women.

I think I got some masculine characteristics from my mother as well as from my father. I think I got a certain degree of aggression and great self-confidence from her. So I was well equipped to get on with traditional women. Real men like real women and vice versa



February 10, 2022

La Belle Dame sans Merci

Autism can be both a blessing and a curse and I have had both. But two autistics together can work rather well. Zoe is also a high-functioning autistic. And that seems to facilitate our understanding of one-another. It was a bit amusing recently when I bought her a small gift and she simply rejected it outright and without apology. She just said she did not want it.

A normal lady would have politely accepted it out of respect for the giver if not out of respect for the gift. But tactless bluntness is a major fault of autism so I was not at all offended. I have myself too often offended in that way. I am inclined to suspect that our shared high-functioning autism is what draws Zoe and me to one-another. She slept in my arms last night so we are obviously pretty relaxed with one-another. Long may it continue.

Did you get the classical allusion in the title of this post? It is copied from a famous poem by Keats. It means "the beautiful but thankless lady". Keats had a rough time with the ladies. The poem includes an example of spondee rhythm, for anybody who takes an interest in such things


The latest picture of La belle dame. She is only 5'1" but very lively



A pain in the neck

Sore joints (arthritis) seem to be a universal companion of old age. Two ladies in their '70s that I know have had great problems with it. One has had both knees replaced and the other has had both hips replaced: Pretty gruesome but better than arthritic pain. My problem is cancer -- now all under control -- but I was probably doomed to get arthritis too.

I did. I have had an arthritic neck for over a year. I had a way of coping with it that worked well for a while but that gradually faded out and I was left with a very painful neck when I woke up in the morning. Aspirin fixed it but I had to wait a little while until the aspirin was absorbed.

So I tried something else. I took Ibuprofen, which is basically an anti-inflammatory medication. I took it as I went to bed. It was a miracle. I woke up pain free.

I have a long record of never taking any pills for my health or anything else, however, so I looked askance at taking Ibuprofen long term. So I experimented. For the last two nights I have taken NO analgesics. And for two mornings I have awoken with only trivial neck pain. My pain in the neck has just about vanished

How come? I can only guess the answer to that. My preferred explanation is that the Ibuprofen permanently reduced the inflammation in my neck. My second theory is that I have been doing a physiotherapy exercise with some frequency lately and that should have helped. And my third theory is that maybe the steroid injections into my neck that I had three weeks ago have finally cut in

But maybe the pain will return and all three of those explanations will be knocked into a cocked hat. I will continue my exercises, though.



February 9, 2022

A first dinner

I met Zoe at the very end of last year. Both of us had advertised on a dating site called Match.com. She liked the older of several pictures that I had up there so ticked me with a "like". But she thought that might be misinterpreted as a general endorsement so on Christmas day, 2021, she sent me an explanatory message as follows.

"Hi, I like your photos from earlier age. I would be in love with you. But you can still return your clock back if you go to healthy nutrition. That means go to 80,10,10 raw vegan diet, means not cooked food and no food from animals. Maybe you can go and with just fruit diet. Regards Zoe"

A rather mixed message but a nice Christmas present. Her self-summary was:

"I am an honest person, intellectual, curious, want to learn new things. I believe in nature and God"

The picture that she particularly liked. She says she liked my broad forehead. It is a picture from my 70th birthday



Below is the picture of herself that she supplied. Note: No wrinkles, not bad for a lady in her 70s.



A surprising thing I found is that she is a Serb and that her degree is in mechanical engineering from the University of Belgrade . That is quite a departure. Nearly all of the ladies in my past have very much been from my own community. Though she and I might at a stretch be said to belong to the same Volk. She certainly thinks we do. She says that my very Northern colouring -- blue eyes and fair skin -- make me a "good Serb". She herself has rather Mediterranean colouring.

We actually met over lunch at my favourite coffee lounge on New Year's Eve, which is sort of prophetic.

We went on to have various lunches at my place, with me supplying raw food, as requested. For a while we had lunches only as her weight control discipline is to have breakfast and lunch only: No dinner. But my bedroom was next door the lunch table so the time of the day did not matter much. We were soon lovers.

But last night for various reasons she for the first time came over for dinner instead of lunch and that went very well. Several happy sighs from her while we were in bed together spoke volumes to me

Two pictures of her at my place below:







February 2, 2022

The spoilt man


Zoe still seems to be strongly attached to me despite my refusal to adopt her unusual dietary and medical beliefs. So I suspect we are together for the long haul.  I will certainly do nothing to hinder that.  I am normally quite faithful to the lady in my life so that will be true again

So I now have three ladies that I see regularly, an ex-wife, an ex-girlfriend and Zoe.  I value them all greatly as they all contribute great positivities to my life. So with three ladies helping with my various needs, I should be a happy man, should I not? Surely only an ungrateful wretch would ask for more!

But I would like more, which is not the same as getting it, of course.  I have a need for very intellectual discourse.  Since my autism makes me freakishly intellectual, however, I  have always accepted that no lady in my life could provide that.  Fortunately, however, there was one occasion where my wishes of that sort were met. With JHM I did have an intellectual peer in my life. I don't ever expect to have that again but it would be very nice if I did.

Mind you, Zoe did today mention both Herodotus and Oedipus so that looks like an unusual familiarity with high culture


Update of 13 Feb.: When Zoe wanted to mock me as being idle (I am) she quite appositely referred to me as being an Oblomov, which is an allusion to a classic 19th century Russian novel. So her cultural level seems quite high, though with different reference points to mine.

Serbian has a lot of similarities to Russian so Russian is an easy language for a Serb to learn. So a primary awareness of Russian literature is to be expected in a Serb. Whereas my orientation is of course to English literature, with a bit of German thrown in.



January 31, 2022

Musical compatibility

I have always been a classical music devotee.  I get a lot out of it and greatly dislike most popular music.  And that creates problems for me in  relationships.  I need the lady in my life to be able at least to tolerate classical music.  And where both of us are aficionados, it is a tie that binds.

So when Anne downgraded our relationship in March 2020 I went on dating sites to find another lady  --with the stipulation that she should like classical music. That ruled out 99% of the available possibilities so it took me a long time to find another partner.

So when Zoe contacted me I was pleased that she liked Bach. Bach does things to me. And during our afternoon together yesterday, she asked me to put on some Schumann -- which I was delighted to do. I put on my favourite Schumann: Kinderszenen. You have to be a real classical devotee to have heard of Schumann so Zoe and I are very compatible musically. She makes me a happy man

She has a very trim figure  too, not bad for a lady in her 70s



January 29, 2022

A virus attack

I had a slight cold a few days ago.  Sniffles and a slightly sore throat.  I had to take cold medicine  -- Codral -- for the sniffles but I did that for only two days.  I have been back to normal for a few days now.  The big easing of Covid-motivated  restrictions would appear to have allowed all the usual viruses to spread again.  My symptoms were nothing like Covid.  No headache, no high temperature etc.  And I don't think even a runny nose is a usual Covid symptom.

People respond to Covid in different ways, however.  Some are infected but show no symptoms at all.  So, to be on the safe side,  when Anne and I had our usual Saturday brekkie we did not kiss or hold hands and sat in a semi-outdoor place. We still fitted in our usual visit to Vinnies, however and Anne came away with a small trophy.





January 16, 2022

A new friend

Since early 2020 I have been in two semi-relationships -- with my ex wife Jenny and my ex-girlfriend Anne.  Both are very congenial arrangements that I probably should be completely happy with but I would like a little more. And both ladies are happy about me seeking a little more.  So it is hopeful that I have recently had a few lunches with "Zoe".  She has declared feelings for me and later today there is a development that may be significant.  She has asked to see me more than once a week so we will now be lunching on Sunday as well as Wednesday

Zoe is from Southern Europe and is around my age but very fit. She does however speak English with an accent that does give me trouble understanding her at times. She is however clearly intelligent, is a very independent thinker, takes an interest in history and likes Bach.  Those are all big pluses from my viewpoint.

She also has strong food preferences.  She eats raw food only: uncooked fruit and veg.  I of course am a normal human omnivore.  I have however made some concessions to her wishes in regard to food.  I have so far provided all the lunches and have offered only uncooked fruit and vegetables for us both to eat. She wants me to convert to a total raw food diet but I have said No.  She says a raw food diet would make me young again. If only....

Anyway we do appear to be advancing towards a real relationship.  But only time will tell, of course


UPDATE of 29th

Zoe and I became lovers on our fourth meeting. Quite respectable, I think. She is a passsionate Serb however so storms soon ensued. I dealt with the storms with my usual Anglo-Saxon calm, however, so all is now serene. Even the dreaded M-word has been mentioned



A new computer

In June of 2020, I rejigged my living room.  I bought an old but large TV unit with lots of drawers to sit a TV on and and I bought a largeish new TV and and a very comfortable new sofa.  Sofa below.


I rarely watch TV so I wanted one primarily to play classical music videos on YouTube.  Watching a performance as well as hearing it does add something.  So I needed a computer to hook up to the TV.  I had an old office computer which slotted well into the TV unit so I decided to use that. Its output was VGA only and my new TV of course took HDMI only.  I circumvented that problem by buying a small converter from Jaycar.  It worked.

But recently it stopped working. When I turned the computer on one morning the TV reported no signal.   I thought at first that the old computer had finally died but then it occurred to me that the VGA to HDMI gadget might have died.  I have found that Jaycar sells a lot of Chinese rubbish these days.  And so it was.  I took the computer downstairs to the garage and hooked it up to an old VGA monitor I had there.  Everything worked perfectly! The computer was OK after all.

But since I no longer could use it to drive my TV, I had to get a new computer.  I chose one of the cheapest laptop computers Officeworks was selling - for $347.  As I just wanted it for one thing, that should have been fine.  It wasn't.  After I had gone through the enormously complicated process of getting it up and running, it ran for only one day.  Next day it would not recognize its own keyboard!  It was a Lenovo product which I had expected better of.  

So I took it back to Officeworks in a very disgruntled state and swapped it for a slightly dearer one -- another Lenovo. So I had to go through the agony of setting up another computer.   But I got it going and it has been fine since.  It's a pretty minimal computer with a small hard drive, only two USB ports and no cable connection for the router. I could have just relied on WiFi to get the internet from the router but I had a cable to USB converter so it is now something a bit unusual for a laptop: one connected directly to the router.  It should be a bit faster that way.

So I used the two  USB ports to connect the router and a mouse.  So I was up and running.  I wanted to connect a couple  of extra things, however:  A regular keyboard and a USB drive to facilitate file transfers.  I had a hub so I plugged the hub into the mouse port which made the El-cheapo computer more versatile. It now has 5 USB ports.

I was not in a great hurry to buy a new keyboard so I was a bit lucky to find a Lenovo keyboard for $5 in an OpShop. It is nice to use but is a bit non-standard in that it has some sort of proprietary keys on top of the F keys. But is does the letters and numbers as usual so that is all I want for watching videos. The laptop has similar keys on top of the F keys so I obviously have something to learn about that



The TV unit accomodates the laptop nicely -- and unobtrusively



UPDATE: Joe has explained the expanded F key identities to me as facilities for dealing with videos. Seeing that I want to use the computer to play videos, that might be useful. So my $5 keyboard is in fact completely up to date



For posts on this blog in 2021, see here



For posts on this blog in 2020, see here






Brief bio


My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 77 at the time of writing in early 2021. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. I am Australian born of working class origins and British ancestry. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools.



See here for more of the notes and pix occurring in the side column of the original memoirs blog



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