Pop-Star’s nephew Dan, wife and two children are fortunate fellow Adelaide Hills residents. Music is part of their home, and both children show talent beyond their years with their violins.
Dan acquired a love of fiddling from his father Tony, and not surprisingly he and the young musicians were early applicants for the weekend fiddle workshop at Strathalbyn.
Pop-Star and the good Mrs Pop-Star were invitees to the climax of the weekend, a concert by performers and mentors held in the hall of Strathalbyn’s well known and loved St. Andrews Church.
It was a delightful evening to set feet a-jigging. The video of one of the pieces was kindly taken on Pop-Star’s iPhone 5 by Dan’s mother-in law Sonya.
Vivacious Adelaide Hills musician Catherine Fraser is keeping alive the delights of Irish and Scottish Fiddling music.
For a second year she has conducted a workshop for musicians young and old at the Glenbarr Camp and Conference Centre in Strathalbyn, South Australia. Guest presenter for the four day event from Oct 9 2014 was Irish fiddle expert Tim Whelan. Also assisting were musicians Hugh Gordon and Janet Gordon.
Pop-Star is grateful that there are talented musicians dedicated to the preservation of Celtic music in remote South Australia.
Mary and daughter Dr Genevieve watch a young girl play hopscotch in the hospital grounds, at the start of the increasingly steep path that wound down to the water-front.
This is another moving short story, written by Mary Gabb.
Gracie was eleven years old, but seemed much older. She was a nut-brown child, half maori, blessed with an uncontrollable shock of frizzy marmalade coloured hair. She constantly wore a brownish toned floral dress, with a mismatched cardigan of uncertain colour and she sang like a lark. Rarely could she be separated from her ukulele which was permanently slung around her neck. Often she would add to her costume a frilly pink plastic lei, and pick a flower to tuck behind her ear.
Gracie had a distinctive gait, mechanical and shuffling like a clockwork doll. She wore callipers attached to her boots and stiff leather cuffs buckled just below each knee connected sturdy steel rods to her boots. A strong spring attached to the toe of each boot corrected her foot drop and kept her from tripping over her feet; the wasted weak muscles a trophy of a polio epidemic.
The Home for Crippled Children was Gracie’s home, as it was for thirty other children. It was a magnificently gracious establishment set on acres, beautifully landscaped with rhododendrons, camellias and roses, and graced with an enormous mosaic tiled lily pond. A long sweeping semi-circular driveway threaded through the tree studded gardens and led to the entrance of the Home. It was a prime piece of real estate, with a coastal frontage, and it had been bequeathed to the city by its former owners for the purpose of housing and caring for crippled children. It had breathtaking sea views.
The outlook from the elevated, open verandahs at the rear of the Home was like a fine piece of art, a million dollar view. Dominating the scene, a sleek mysterious island with pubescent female lines, lay tantalizingly close and seemed to float on the glittering sea. Rangitoto Island! It looked so close it seemed that you could reach out and touch it. It drew Gracie’s gaze as she sang accompanying herself on her beloved uke. “Oh, I wish I had someone to love me, someone to call me their own. Oh I wish I had someone to live with, for I’m tired of living alone. If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls would I fly………” Her singing so sweet and soulful, was a prayer for a miracle; perhaps that the sea breezes would carry her voice to some angel who might hear and respond.
Gracie never had visitors, and on visiting days was left to her own devices. The existence of a track to the beach down a precipitous cliff face was never revealed to the children. But with the unerring intuition of a child, everyone knew that it was there and it began inside the conservatory which was definitely ‘Out of Bounds’. Rumour had it that the track was steep and dangerous. One visiting day, when with the distraction of visitors she knew she would be unnoticed, Gracie slipped quietly past the glittering lily pond. Mingling with and leap-frogging the groups of visitors who were fully absorbed in their own resident child, she made her way unobtrusively, to the entrance of the conservatory. Once inside the conservatory she was concealed from view by the tangled lush growth of trees and ferns. Just a closer look at Rangitoto; she wanted that so badly. The track beckoned her on, through the fernery filled with pungas (tree fern) with their furry brown snake-like fronds all curiously curled, and underneath them the unruly growth of maidenhair and sword fern.
Once out of the conservatory, steps appeared cut into the steep escarpment leading to the beach below. At first they were quite regular and zig-zagged steeply through the tangle of native bush. Intermittent landings gave a sense of safety and the steps were not difficult to negotiate. Gracie’s confidence grew. But soon the steps became irregular and some were shored up with wood in an attempt to halt the erosion caused by wind and rain. The descent was longer and steeper than she had imagined. There were no landings now; each step seemed a precipitous drop down the sandy cliff. Gracie wondered if she should turn back, but now she was halfway there and it was unthinkable to retreat without achieving her goal. The going got more difficult and more treacherous, and to make progress she was obliged to sit down on each step and carefully lower herself to the next one, steadying herself by clutching at the tangle of weeds and beach grass growing within reach. It was a tiring and frightening adventure but each step was a triumph. She gloated and wondered what the other kids would think if they could see her. But in sight of the beach, so close to her goal, a step unexpectedly gave way under her feet and threw her forwards. Overbalancing, she tumbled headlong down the last few steps onto the coarse, damp grey sand.
Just a small fringe of a beach it was, with native bush and tree ferns scrambling right down to the deserted beach margin. There, only feet away was the dazzling blue sea, and serenely floating on top of it was her Island. Rangitoto, so close and even more magically calling to her now! She struggled to her feet shaken but uninjured and dusted away the wet sand from her body. The isolation was eerie, not a sound or sight of any other person in the whole world. She had done it! And the tranquillity and splendour of her surroundings both awed and unnerved her. She was alone in the world and free! Surprise and elation made her feel proud and invincible. She wondered if she had been missed.
Gracie took a few tentative and awkward steps in the soft sand to the water’s edge, and with each step her boots sank deeper into the sand. The benign and gentle waves lapped over the toes of her boots. With her eyes fixed on the magical island, she stumbled on the uneven sea floor and fell. Her wet heavy boots held her fast. The water was so cool and caressing. ‘I would fly to the arms of my darling, and there I’d be willing to die’……..
Brain exercise vital: Use it or lose it, visiting expert Dr Michael Merzenich warns Australians
A neuroscientist is warning people need regular brain exercise to help ward off health risks such as senility as they age.
Australians generally are living longer, healthier lives than ever before but visiting American neuroscientist Michael Merzenich warns work is needed to maintain functioning into old age.
Dr Merzenich, emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of California, says the burden of rising demands on the health system could become economically and socially unsupportable.
“By the time you reach your 85th birthday about half of us will need continuous care, [so] have to think about maintaining our abilities and capacities,” he said.
I think it is possible to keep most people in good stead from brain health to the point where their brain span can equal their life spanDr Michael Merzenich
On a visit to South Australia, Dr Merzenich warned medical advances of the past century had dramatically increased the average life span but had largely ignored brain function.
His research has found people who frequently exercise both physically and mentally can maintain healthy functions deep into retirement.
“We are in the middle of a grand experiment,” he said of the ageing population.
“I think it is possible to keep most people in good stead from brain health to the point where their brain span can equal their life span.”
Dr Merzenich has pointed to his Australian friend Rex Lipman, now in his 90s and still working.
To keep physically fit, Mr Lipman plays tennis but twice per day he also takes time to exercise his brain, doing online puzzles and problem-solving.
“It exercises the neurons of the brain, making them move,” Dr Merzenich said.
“Loss of cognitive response is caused by neurons that are no longer healthy and growing and instead of being plastic and soft like when we were young, they get hard and stiff and we don’t hear as well, see as well or taste as well.”
Dr Merzenich says Mr Lipman is “an Australian treasure” and has applauded his friend’s zeal for preaching the value of regular brain exercise.
In recent days in Adelaide, the pair have been taking their message to high school students, staff and students of the University of Adelaide and a gathering the science hub, RiAus, the Royal Institution of Australia.
South Australia tightens the licence requirements for elderly drivers
An article in Adelaide’s The Advertiser on September 4, 2013, written by Police Reporter Ben Hyde, stimulated much debate all-day on talk-back radio station 5AA.
South Australian Motorists over the age of 70 must pass an annual medical and eyesight examination, and receive a certificate of fitness to drive. Of particular concern to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) of the SA government, are medical conditions that might adversely affect competence to drive safely.
Examples include diminished visual acuity, sleep disorders, attention deficit disorder and other psychiatric problems, degenerative neurological disorders e.g. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, epilepsy, diabetes, drug dependency, and heart disease.
All drivers, whatever their age, have a duty to report any condition that might affect their fitness to drive. Because of the increased incidence of medical disorders with age, an annual medical examination is appropriate for those over 70.
The New Certificate of Fitness Assessment Form
There has been a concern with the standard of medical information provided by some doctors completing the current assessment forms. This has prompted, according to the Road Safety Minister Michael O’Brien, the design of a more detailed document with a comprehensive patient questionnaire and examination report, to be completed by the driver and the medical examiner.
The new form complies with national guidelines in assessing fitness to drive. It is not aimed at increasing driver suspensions which have increased from 1416 in 2010/11, to 1541 in 2011/12, and now in 2012/13 to 2016, a jump of 30%. There are 117,000 licence holders in South Australia who are 70 or older.
In addition to those loosing their licence, an extra 816 drivers had restrictions placed on their licence. This was up from 645 in 2011/12 and 381 in 2010/11. This rapid increase is in part due to ageing of the population, but may also be a function of improved reporting.
The intention of the government is to reduce the high incidence of over 70-year-old drivers involved in fatal collisions. This year 17 of 74 road deaths have been in this age group. This statistic does not differentiate between the age group of the drivers mostly responsible for the accident.
By drawing attention to driving competency from medical causes, and placing restrictions when appropriate, the measures may in fact prolong driving longevity for the elderly.
The Victorian Approach
- Early hours curfew plan for young South Australian drivers (abc.net.au)
- Moving right along helping older drivers (wattlerangenow.com.au)
I came across this article written by Kiro Nic in Life Starts at Sixty today. It sounds good. Do spread the news!!
For the love of chocolate
POSTED BY KIRO NIC | AUG 06, 2013
I am a passionate chocolate lover and have recently come across some excellent news. Apparently, consuming a small amount of dark chocolate 3 – 4 times a week lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease.
When I heard about this I had to do some more digging to find out if this was true!
The research suggests that consuming a small amount of plain dark chocolate, that contains at least 80-90% of cocoa, could lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. It could also improve blood flow and may help with the prevention of blood clots.
So how could this occur? Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which help reduce insulin resistance by assisting cells to function normally and helps them to regain the ability to use the body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate has a low glycemic index, which means it will not create huge spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Also, chocolate contains Phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you are falling in love. So no wonder I LOVE chocolate so much! PEA tells the brain to release endorphins, which makes you feel happy. So it really is ok to love chocolate!
In addition to all of this, vitamins and minerals can be found in dark chocolate. These include potassium and copper which help prevent against stoke and cardiovascular ailments, iron which protects against anaemia and magnesium to help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
The recommended amount is about 1-2 squares of chocolate a few times a week. Naturally, eating any food in excess will have a negative effect, including an expanding waist line which can lead to heart disease.
As with all things it is all about balance. I spend an incredible amount of time creating new recipes (which involves lots of sampling!)and I try to balance my non-review days eating really clean and doing lots of exercise to counter balance it all.
Find your balance and stay happy and healthy. Food is an important part of our lives so remember to enjoy it and have a good time with it, even if it is in moderation!
All this research consensus in the references appended, it must be true!!
Unfortunately Pop-Star’s present weight precludes over-indulgence.
- Fall in Love with Dark Chocolate (samiamwhatieat.wordpress.com)
- Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (cottesg.wordpress.com)
- Can Chocolate Give You Youthful Skin? (news.health.com)
- Awesone Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate (howtolookpretty.wordpress.com)
- Chocolate: The latest superfood (express.co.uk)
- Chocolate May Reduce Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Risk (123mymd.wordpress.com)
- 7 Dark Chocolate Health Benefits (zen-haven.com)
- Health Benefits of CHOCOLATE!! (modernchic25.wordpress.com)
- 6 Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate (smittennutrition.com)
Mrs Pop-Star’s cousin Wayne was a family favourite. Like many Aussie blokes he was chatty, easy-going, and genial. His physical presence was imposing; tall and a little overweight, like his father. He enjoyed a beer, but did not drink to excess, nor did he smoke.
It was surprising perhaps, but despite having girl-friends over the years, he had never married. He lived in a bachelor pad at prestigious seaside resort suburb Glenelg, working as a printer at Adelaide’s Griffin Press, before a career change to an Insurance salesperson.
When his father died, he shifted back to live with his adoring mother Dawn, to keep her company in the spacious family home. “Wayney” as Dawn like to call him, was 39, and provided her with the company and support she needed.
It was a cool but sunny spring morning in early September 1990. Breakfast over she went outside into their leafy garden to tend the ferns in the shade-house, and under the canopy of stately mature trees.
When she was finished, she came inside to tidy the kitchen. Entering the hallway, to her horror, there sprawled on the floor in his bedroom doorway was the motionless form of her precious son. There had been no cry of pain that she had heard. Oh why had she been outside when he needed her! It all came without premonition or warning of which she was aware. She was desolate. To lose a child is the most excruciatingly painful event that can befall any parent.
It was not until later that Gastrogel, and antacid tablets were found in the glove-box of his car, that we made sense of his recent medical appointment.
Don’t ignore symptoms such as chest pain, even if you are still young.
Reflux, and peptic ulcers of both the stomach and duodenum at that time were the commonest cause of pain in the chest and upper abdomen in patients under 40. This was in the days before Adelaide trained bacteriologist Robin Warren co-discovered that peptic ulcers, considered a surgical disease, were caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, and could be treated medically with antibiotics. For this discovery he received a Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Not always does a heart attack present with agonizing chest pain. Such pain suggests a massive heart attack which could prove fatal.
Frequently before this the patient will have had symptoms that may not have been severe, indeed quite mild, and have perhaps been ignored. With CHD occurring increasingly in younger age groups, it is important that any unexplained chest pain is properly investigated. Remember too that CHD is a common cause of death in women, as well as in men.
This story illustrates how important it is to not ignore one’s symptoms and to seek prompt treatment, particularly now that there are so many interventions available to clear the blockages. Hopefully some readers will take note and visit the website for the Heart Foundation, to become familiar with the symptoms, prevention and management of Coronary Artery Disease.
A little information about the Coronary Arteries
There are two coronary arteries, right and left, that lie on the surface of the heart, sending branches deeply into the heart muscle. Although the four heart chambers are full of blood to be pumped to the rest of the body, none of this is available to nourish the muscle of the heart itself. Instead, these two arteries arise where the main artery, the aorta, starts at the outlet of the left ventricle.
For superb illustrations of coronary artery anatomy please click on the link:
There is little overlap of the circulation between the two arteries. Blockage occurs when atheroma deposits of cholesterol form in the artery wall, distorting blood flow, and initiating the formation of blood clots. The heart muscle, starved of blood will die and be replaced with scar tissue that weakens the pumping action of the heart.
- What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity? (fatwacker.wordpress.com)
- Women With Coronary Artery Disease Not Given the Same Level of Preventive Recommendations as Men (medindia.net)
- Coronary artery disease continues to be neglected in women, despite it killing at least as many women as men (eurekalert.org)
- Obesity for a Prolonged Period Enhances the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease (medindia.net)
It was not until his last year of study at the Adelaide Boys’ High School that Pop-Star discovered a love for the English language. He was always a “steady” rather than a “bright” student; until then it was the science subjects, Physics and Chemistry where he gained his best results.
His ambition was to study Medicine, and at that time Latin was a prerequisite for entry to the School of Medicine in South Australia. In his earlier years English, and particularly English poetry had seemed incomprehensible and as lacking in interest and relevance as the study of Latin. English was just another discipline in which Pop-Star had to become proficient.
Pop-Star never fully mastered all grammatical detail, or understood the various structures of poetical expression. Even spelling errors crept into his literary efforts. He never really became as fluent as he would have liked in his writing and in his speech. He did however come to love carefully chosen words and to appreciate the human emotions they expressed.
The poet who most impressed the young Pop-Star was John Keats. You may be surprised to learn that he had no formal literary education. In fact he trained at Guy’s Hospital in London as a surgeon only to die at just 25, of pulmonary tuberculosis. In a few short years, in spite of his illness, he managed to write 54 poems that have brought him the fame and acclaim that he feared he would never achieve. His poem “When I have fears that I may cease to be” expressed this, together with a deeper regret on the loss of experiences of beauty and love, as they faded into insignificance, with his declining health.
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
Pop-Star liked his euphemism for death. “when I may cease to be”.
In our youth, we fear and dread death and shun even its mention.
Age softens our attitude to death, from a topic not to be discussed, to acceptance, and eventually to an event to be welcomed, and planned for.
Indeed it may be that it is “Life’s Last Adventure”
Herpes zoster is commonly known Shingles, the name being derived from the Latin word Cingulum meaning a girdle or band reflecting the band like distribution of the painful rash which encircles one side of the body.
It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which earlier in life causes chicken-pox, but may lie dormant in some nerve roots of the spinal cord for years before being activated when disease, stress or old age lower the body’s immunity.
Pop-Star had chicken-pox when he was 12. “Monoclonal B cell lymphocytosis“, an early asymptomatic form of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia may have affected his immunity.
Since the virus spreads along the nerves damaging them, it causes constant painful sensations which range from a constant ache, sharp stabbing pains, creepy crawly feelings, a painful itch, at times hot boring pain, and intense sensitivity.
Since it is not often life-endangering, it is a condition that is not particularly news-worthy; but it can plague the lives of the elderly for a long time, at a time when their health is already compromised.
In the early stages of the rash when little vesicles or blisters are forming, the patient may pass on the virus to others, but surprisingly, if infected chicken-pox not shingles is the outcome.
Shingles can involve almost any region of the body, but most commonly the chest or the abdomen. Less commonly the trigeminal nerve of the face can be involved. The characteristic features of the condition are that the rash is painful and always confined to just one side of the body.
- The Pop-stars Gold Anniversary (tedablog.com)
- Shingles… but not the roofing kind! (edebock.wordpress.com)
- Taking Care of Shingles at Home – Stay away from Chicken Pox Virus (drsnooze13.wordpress.com)
- Shingles (philipskelding.com)
- Herpes… for the eye? (visionmd.org)
50 years of marriage! Fancy the old couple still being around together in their mid-seventies, into their second decade of retirement; a decade when the quality of life is increasingly impacted by losses!
Losses such as the big five f’s: friends and family, finances, figure and fitness; not to mention health and memory; but not necessarily their libido and enjoyment of life.
There are some great advantages is still being together at this age, although so often this is not possible e.g.
• Companionship in sharing life’s experiences when many friends have died and other friendships have waned.
• Someone to share love and passion, when safe and intimate relationships are hard or impossible to form.
• Someone with whom one can seek and give support and assistance.
• Someone who understands how one feels, and compensates for one’s own inadequacies.
The wedding vow “In sickness and in health” had real significance for Pop-Star as their anniversary approached.
Just before going to bed ten days before the big event, Pop-Star had an ache in the front of his chest. It was not severe but was still there in the morning. With a prior history of coronary artery disease Pop-Star thought he should be checked out as he might be having a heart attack.
Mrs. Pop-Star took him to hospital where he was admitted for tests. A heart attack was ruled out but it wasn’t until two nights after discharge back home that the diagnosis became evident.
Overnight the pain was worse and an exquisitely sensitive rash in a band three inches wide appeared on only the left side of his chest, just below his left nipple.
A diagnosis of shingles was obvious and he was started on the anti-viral drug (Famcyclovir) and medication for the pain.
Although relieved that it was not a heart attack, he was to find out it is an incredibly painful affliction with neuralgia that can linger for months or even years after the rash disappears in 1-2 months.
The Gold Anniversary that proved to be a Non-event
Mrs. Pop-Star also has medical issues. Foremost is painful disabling osteoarthritis of both knees. Indeed she was booked for knee replacement surgery three days before the Anniversary. It was the earliest appointment she could get with her Orthopaedic Surgeon. Her attitude was “what better present could I have for the occasion than a new knee”?
Disappointingly the Anniversary was a non-event apart from the promised extended cuddle. They were just grateful to still be alive and together.
Selflessly MPS postponed her surgery for the present to look after him.