I need a restful break!

For several weeks now I have been working on thousands of slides which I’ve taken over the years and never got around to cataloging properly. I need a break, so I thought that I would show you a few sun scenes from where we live. The one which I always put at the top is from Ethiopia but the following are all from around our property where we live now in a place called Oak Valley. There is no touching up applied. Just as they were.

I could go on with more but I think that’s enough for today. I think the Creator is a Master Painter!

Dominic Cartier

Walking Down Memory Lane

African sunset

I try not to just live on memories. But I sleep a lot; walk slowly with a stick; or if the family goes out together they take me in a wheelchair to speed things up. I still can think clearly (or so I think) and I don’t find it easy to hand over all the control to a son who does almost everything about the place. He’s gracious and I’m trying – maybe in two senses of the word!

But memory lane is mostly pleasant to walk down. I’ve been transferring slides and photographs onto my computer and it has been a bit tedious but full of memories. Here are a few of them.

OV dams from hill copy

I used to own much of the land seen in this photo, but most of it is now sold. Some of the money enables us to live, but much has been invested in lives in Ethiopia. Those lives are very pleasant to remember and the memories give great joy. Some were sick; some were destitute; some needed education, but all were real people, and needed loving. Not always emotional love, but rather helping love. Some are dead already, I guess, but the money and effort was not wasted.

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When I was in Australia for several years, about 35 years ago, I bought this old house for $3,000 and we had it transported. It still stands today looking much better and surrounded by trees. 

My computer collection of pictures begins from over sixty five years ago. I didn’t get a camera until I was in my older teens, so although there are a few photos of even great grandparents, mostly the photos start from when I met an amazingly beautiful young teenager. I started to ‘chase’ her from the day I first met her! We will have been married for fifty eight years come December. I’ve got about two thousand more slides and many photos to go through. What a lot of memories still to come!

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Sorry about the focus, but these are the street huts people were living in on the street opposite the main government hospital in Addis Ababa.

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And this was one of the operating rooms that first greeted me in 1994

a day's operating copy
This is a list of one day’s emergency surgical admissions. The writing is terrible, but listed below it reads disease-wise ….

appendicitis; intestinal obstruction; intestinal obstruction, volvulus; acute appendicitis; Peritonitis from perforated duodenal ulcer; appendiceal abscess; stab wound to the abdomen; rectal fistula; oesophageal cancer; penetrating abdominal knife wound. Most of these would have needed surgery the same day except the oesophageal cancer which would need work up and time.

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As a baby I found him, deserted,  being swept around on the floor of the paediatric ward.

Now he has a tertiary education and this should mean a satisfying life.

Money is useful if you use it wisely. Memories are more precious!

Dominic Cartier

Tom is Alive

African sunset

None of us men could even begin to imagine what it would be like. Maybe you ladies could. Try to imagine living in a family; being the first of four wives all living in the same compound; there are plenty of kids from babies to teenagers; you’ve delivered fourteen babies and they’re all dead.

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Usually the husband had the largest house and each wife with her children had a smaller one.

Now you’re pregnant again and your heart is so full of hope!

Your husband loves you, but you share that love with three other wives. The months go past, your belly fattens, the kicks start coming, your hope and your fears grow and jostle in your mind. Seven months gone, only two more to go. A few days pass and your waters break. Oh, no, surely not another so tiny that it won’t survive,

But your husband loves you, so, although babies are usually born at home, he gets a horse and cart and takes you to the nearby infidel’s hospital so that maybe you’ll get a live one at last. He does really love you.

They have funny customs, but they look after you and you deliver a scrap that when you see him you can’t believe that he can live, and he certainly wouldn’t have in your home. They take him away from you. Not to say they are nasty, they care for you, express your breasts (both of them) and feed him through a little tube down his nose. They make another uterus for him out of a card-board box lined with cotton wool. They put an electric light in the end to keep his new home warm. They run oxygen into the box at first but after a few weeks decide he doesn’t need it any more.

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About this size he was taken home.

One of the foreign women takes him to her house each night because she explains that she wants to make sure he gets his 2-hourly feeds at night. You can see she loves both of us and wants him to live. You learn her name is ‘Hirut’ but lots call her ‘Ruth’. Her own two boys love to come and watch him with you. They love him, you can see, like a brother.

Gradually they teach you to sponge him down, and to feed your own milk down the little tube. Eventually you’re allowed to hold him for a while. He holds your finger; he pees into your face as only little boys can; he takes your heart in his hands and your hope grows. But then goes back into his box.

Then your breasts dry up and they start to feed him in a powder from a tin which they mixed with boiled water and let him drink from a bottle with a breast slipped over the end. They teach you to test the warmth of the milk substitute by dropping a bit onto your wrist. They always clean up the bottle and the little ’breast’. They explain this is necessary and teach you how to do it properly. They explain it is very necessary to do all this.

He’s soon no longer living in his box. They teach you to do it all so well. He grows so beautiful. You see Hirut would love to keep him, she has spent so many nights and so much effort, but she just encourages you and gives him lots of little clothes that her own boys wore. All the hospital love and they call him Tom. He kicks, he laughs, he cries, He’s beautiful. It’s time to take him home. The nurses give you a little party and then your loving man takes you home. Everyone there is excited for you and they love him.

Five days later, he’s running a temperature; another two days later little Tom is dead.

No one at home boiled bottles and their water came from the creek in which people bathed and near which they did their ‘business’. He got diarrhoea, started vomiting and died.

Later you got the courage to go back to the hospital and told them the news – they cried with you, and hugged you and loved you. As you left you missed hearing them say to one another ‘It was all our fault. We should never have been so clean.’

But sadly, Tom is dead.

I’m feeling sad!

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what was

Why sad? I’ve so much to be glad about. My wife loves me; I love her. My dogs are lying at my feet. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee.

But I love trees and today we had eight cut down and their roots ground out. They took many years to grow. They weren’t sick. They were in the way. Electricity has become so expensive that we’ve had solar panels installed, and they stopped the sun shining onto the panels in the afternoons.

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We have a heap of mulch which will make my gardening wife happy, but I’m sad

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The top branch of the last tree

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It looks bare!

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what is!

I guess that in the long run it is for the best; but I’m still sad!

Dominic Cartier

A day in the bush

I had an appointment to see my doctor yesterday morning. In conversation I mentioned that my wife and I, in spite of our age and my walking difficulties, intended to continue living where we do, some kilometres outside the city limit on a small 40 hectare (100 acre) property. We live upstairs with a grandson and  two of our sons live downstairs in a granny flat. The doctor laughingly declared us ‘mad’ as there is so little to do ‘way out there’.

It made me think of what  happened here yesterday. Was he correct in his statement? As I said earlier, we are five at the moment – my wife and I, 2 sons, one in his mid 50s and one in his early 20s and a grandson a few weeks older than his young uncle. So I’ll try and list what happened in this out-of-the-way, boring place.

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We like what our neighbours look like.

My wife and I, in this cold spell, slept in a bit late. Excusable I think at our ages. Then she got up and worked in the garden for a while, while I did a bit of clearing around the inside. We both went together to my doctor’s appointment as she likes to check that I tell him everything. But she wasn’t let in because of social distancing, only the patient could enter the waiting room. So instead she went window shopping. The doctor had been one of my interns when I was director of surgery here so my visits are always interesting. He decided that I was still alive and I left with a few renewed scripts.

My wife was waiting at the door and led my off to buy something she had seen, for our kitchen. Having made the purchase, we were on our way home when she realised that she had left my prescriptions on the desk when she had paid for the new ‘thingamebob’. So we returned and while she went inside I had a call from our older son asking us to buy some masking tape for his painting job. So we had a trip to the hardware store. We got home just in time for lunch; then

  • I worked on the revision of a small book I wrote a few years ago for the medical students in Arba Mintch. It’s taking a while as now I’m planning a wider distribution, probably as an e-book.
  • my wife replied to email notes and wrote letters.
  • I had a return call from my tax man, which didn’t give me the answer I desired. C’est la vie.
  • I received a quote for a lift to help me up the stairs; I don’t like the idea but getting up and down them is getting harder. Not cheap but maybe necessary.
  • We got an email electricity bill. Our new solar system has cut two thirds off the last bill.
  • We had a lovely email from the mother of the adopted little baby about whom I wrote a post earlier. A baby is born
  • I had a discussion with the sales person about a water pump. I need to get water pumped from the dam to our house – about 500 metres, but fortunately over pretty flat ground, so there is not a great height to lift the water. It’ll need to be sorted out soon if we want to keep some green grass around the house.

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  • Then my wife took our grandson for a driving lesson. He has never wanted to learn but if he is going to live here he’s going to have to become independent, we can’t spend the time taking him everywhere he needs to go.
  • My older son and our grandson spent most of the day painting. Then our son went to do some basic preparatory work to prepare for a fencing project starting with our neighbour on Saturday, on a boundary fence.
  • Our grandson  spent hours after the evening meal writing music. He’s good at it and beginning to get some sales now.
  • Our younger son is an apprentice mechanic so he spent his day at work. When he came home he did some work renewing the thermostat in our farm Patrol vehicle.
  • After the evening meal, a short Bible reading and prayer. While the others scattered to their various activities I sat down to watch the next episode of Judge John Deed. I don’t think much of his sex life, but appreciate his stand for justice.

So Doc, I think there’s enough to do here! Maybe if we moved to town we’d be bored!

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We like the morning and evening ‘paintings’

Dominic Cartier