Thursday, October 16, 2008

Art reflects journey of hope

This column has appeared in the Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland City, Queensland, Australia.

A JOURNEY of hope begins every day from Redland Bay, only to end just a few kilometres away in disappointment. Norm Lutton, 84, carefully times the daily mission to the Victoria Point nursing home that cares for his wife of 42 years, Margaret. The drive takes only about five minutes, then Norm sits with Margaret at lunch time. "She doesn’t recognise me any longer," he says. "At this time of day when she is most alert there is a better chance she will recognise me."

NORM lives in desperate hope that for even a second or two Alzheimer’s disease will release its grip on his wife’s memory. He says the experience of becoming a stranger to her, as the disease progressed during the past five years since the diagnosis, has been devastating. But Norm obviously has a lot of inner strength to help him get through. Born in Hurstville, he trained three and a half years as an aircraft engineer with the Royal Australian Air Force, before working in civil aviation with TAA then Qantas at Mascot. "There were too many strikes – I needed to get on with other things," he says.

THE couple bred Charolais cattle at Dorrigo on the NSW north coast before moving to Queensland 35 years ago, with Norm blaming the Whitlam Government for "buggering up" the beef export market. "My latest job was professional punter but I have had a lot of jobs," he says. "I sold real estate for some years." Norm says he was able to look after Margaret at home until about five years ago. As she became more difficult to live with he found a refuge far enough to give him some isolation but close enough to allow a quick return when necessary. "I used to sit up in the back shed to get out of her road," he says.

DURING the respite, inspiration dawned. Norm had a vision of mosaic patterns giving colour to gardens, "in some cases taking the place of flowers" and using tiles that usually become landfill after building projects. He "pottered around", creating patterns on terracotta pots and other surfaces around his Penzance Drive home. Some of his favourites have been giant "mushrooms" in bright colours. "I have done all sorts of things," Norm says. "I have so many around the place my daughters have said, ‘Don’t make any more’."

THAT is why Norm Lutton advertised "Mosaic designs to add colour to your garden, affordably priced. Ph 3829 1092." He says he simply wants to recoup the cost of materials. Such art from the heart has been a great place for this column’s return after my own recent medical issues. I thank the Redland Times, particularly Kylie Hogan and Brian Hurst, for supporting my talks with the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising and promise readers to keep up to date with the posts at

Now, an attack on the backlog of Classie Corner stories that have featured this year:

Fairtime favourite full of surprises
THE "lucky dip" -- a fairtime favourite for as long as apples have had sticky skins - has found its way on to the garage sale scene. Sellers rather than buyers get the surprises, however, at one annual garage sale. Excitement certainly must be building among the dedicated band of professional women in the Zonta Club of Wynnum Redland before its "monster" sale tomorrow at Cleveland State High School community hall.

LATE this afternoon as the students rush off for weekend fun the Zontians will arrive in maybe half a dozen cars, packed with bags of mystery. The women, since last year under the direction of the club's chair of fundraising and services, Marilyn Steenland, will have the duty of opening bags of donated sale items, setting the prices and putting everything on display.The bags have mounted up in club members' homes for almost 12 months.

MARILYN promises a huge collection of clothing, bric a brac and household items "all at bargain prices" when the doors open at 7am tomorrow.The set-up today certainly will be a "lucky dip" for Zonta's charitable causes. The club's fundraising emphasis is on helping women in distress and children, Marilyn says. Beneficiaries of its fundraising include two providers of accommodation for victims of domestic violence in the bayside districts. However, it also awards bursaries for university students, helps women with work-related training and supports Redlands Hospital psychiatric unit, and also backs international aid programs, such as that after the 2004 tsunami.

THE club, which formed almost 30 years ago, has 24 members, whose ages range from the mid-30s to over 80, Marilyn says. Its active membership has fallen by half a dozen in the past year, through illness, retirement and other commitments. The age span means the younger group is still bringing up their children, while the seniors may decrease their involvement in their latter years, she says.The garage sale will be one of the club's few major public events in 2008 but Saturday, May 31, shoppers can expect to see the Zonta banner at the Bunnings Victoria Point sausage sizzle. Marilyn says the club raised about $4000 for its causes last year, when an art show was also on the program.

This column appeared in the Redland Times in May 2008.

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